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Stop Pleasing Others
If you suffer from the 'disease to please,' saying no can seem intimidating. Reluctantly saying yes however, causes a great deal of stress. Learn how to effectively state your needs without causing trepidation for you or others. Whether you agree because you want to bully or control the situation, or because you don't have the guts to say what you really want, learning to ask for what you want will work to your advantage.
Assertive communication is straightforward, simple and appropriate. If others around you are used to you being unassertive, stating what you want may seem off-putting to them at first. They don't expect it from you. They will come around and realize the comfort zone you create makes you more pleasant to deal with. Passive individuals typically blow-up and become unreasonable after enough people take advantage of their generosity. Caustic relationships make everyone involved feel ill at ease. Asserting yourself keeps you from feeling you've let others walk all over you; feelings of resentment aren't allowed to simmer.
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The Power of No
The first assertive statement tells people no. When someone asks you to do something you really don't want to do, instead of replying the way you think she wants, say, "No, I'm not busy on Wednesday, but I'd like to keep it that way." For a person used to passivity, it may feel odd at the outset, but stick to your guns. After making the statement, if you receive resistance (you may at first simply because people are used to you giving in), simply remain quiet. Don't let anyone draw you into an argument or convince you to relent. Once that individual realizes you mean business, she will stop asking.
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Leaving Your Options Open
Sometimes you'll want to keep your options open. If you're dealing with an especially senstive person, saying no outright may create an enviroment for which you're not yet ready. Use the second assertion. When someone insists on giving you their opinion and you wish to leave your options open say, "Thanks for your suggestion. I'll take that into consideration." Then move to another topic.
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Asserting Yourself Head-On
Certain friends, co-workers or family members who are used to taking advantage of your former passive-self, will need advance warning that you've changed. For them, the third declaration provides just that. Before each of them has a chance to ask for something you know will only put an albatross around your neck, simply approach each one privately and ask, "When is a good time for us to talk about something that has been bothering me?" Put the onus on you. Explain how stressful always saying yes when you want to say no has been for you. Don't place blame. Thank each person in advance for understanding. Refuse to argue and take responsiblity for being too passive in the past. Once each realizes you are serious, it's up to them whether they want to pursue asking for something you no longer want to provide. Again, don't give in.
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Thinking About It
Asserting yourself doesn't mean you can't say yes. Situations arise where you'll want to consider your options. When the mood warrants, the fourth assertive statement works well. "I will have to get back to you about that." Then do precisely that. Don't use it as a stall tactic. When you say it, do it with the intention of getting back to the individual and saying yes or no.
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This last assertion comes into play when you disagree with someone. Many of us are intimidated to have a contrary opinion because we want everyone to like us and feel comfortable. However, we can't provide comfort for others at the expense of our own. Assertive communication allows you to disagree without being unreasonable. When someone states a position that you don't share counter with: "I think I understand what you are saying, but I don't agree." Be prepared to encounter stubborn fanatics so intent on arguing that they refuse to change their minds and refuse to change the subject. Just keep in mind, it takes two people to bicker. Let them argue with the invisible person in the room if they want to, but not with you.
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Communicating effectively is essential when interacting with others. These assertive communication examples help all of us ask for what we need. Even though aggressive or passive behavior may temporarily allow us to reach a goal, in the long-term it often resembles being in a far away land that only offers exotic ways to suffer. Adapting an assertive stance will eventually lead to your own corner of communication paradise.
- "What IS Assertive Communication?", http://www.leehopkins.com/assertive-communication.html
Wellborn, Catherine, "The Line Between Being Aggressive and Being Assertive", http://budtoboss.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/the-line-between-being-assertive-and-being-aggressive/