Month: September 2015

Being Assertive Takes Courage. What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

ImageWe often think of courage as a quality that people demonstrate when they climb a mountain, rescue someone from a burning building or skydive. It’s true, they are all acts of courage. But bravery doesn’t only include physical risk.

Another type of courage is that needed when we decide to change our behaviour. The behaviour we have now is what we are familiar with. It may or may not serve us well, but we accept it as ‘who we are’.

Changing behaviour takes courage. If you have previously dealt with frustrating situations by losing your temper, it takes courage to stop yourself, calm yourself down and act assertively.

Perhaps you’ve done the opposite, avoiding confrontational situations altogether, by being accommodating to everyone, even at your own expense. If so, it takes courage to plan how to deal with the situation assertively to do it. Real courage.

So let’s think about your own courage.

What would you do differently if you weren’t afraid?

What would you try?

What would you stop doing?

*** Try This! ***

Read a biography of someone whose courage inspires you. Ask yourself what you can learn from their attitude. How can you make that attitude your own, applying it to your wish to be more assertive?

I’d love to know how you have courageously taken a step towards being assertive. Let me know in the comments box below.


c8506fb51baf669ebe115f685b79baa5I love helping people to enjoy life more through communicating assertively for others. I’ve been a freelance trainer for more than 20 years and have run more assertiveness courses than I can remember. One fascinating thing – almost all the course participants were lovely people. I can barely remember anyone who wasn’t.

These days I spend more time being a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and writing. I’ve written 11 self-help books and training manuals and one novel Winner Takes All. I also write blogs for two companies. I’ve successfully completed two Creative Writing courses with the Open University and am currently a student on an MA in Professional Writing, taking the fiction options.

I live in Cambridge with my husband Rick, who is a constant source of support and inspiration in my writing. And I’m fortunate that my two daughters and three grandchildren all live close by.

I am a volunteer for Addenbrookes Charitable Trust. I get to do all sorts of things for them – write patients’ success stories for their publicity, have my photo taken collecting those big cheques you see in newspapers, selling goods on their stall in out-patients and all sorts of odd jobs.

You can  see more of my work on my website Hope to see you there.

Nine ways to be happier

Image of happy woman with outstretched arms standing in field
Want to feel this good? Follow these easy steps.

You may be wondering why I am writing about happiness when this is a blog on assertiveness. The truth is that it’s easier to be assertive when you are feeling good. It gives you an inner strength, a resilience that supports you through even difficult conversations. Which of these suggestions can you use?

Be Sociable – spend time with people who make you feel good. Make face to face connections with colleagues, friends and family. Try to stop seeing people who make you feel bad.

Look after your body – it’s hard to feel happy if you are feeling unwell, sluggish or have regular hangovers. Eat well, drink alcohol in moderation.

Exercise – some people think this means going to the gym or doing a marathon, but that’s not the case. Just get moving. If your job is sedentary, get up about once an hour and walk around, have a good stretch. Go for a walk in your lunch break. Take the dog for a walk. Walk up stairs instead of taking the lift.

Sleep Well – follow a sleep routine to get 7 to 8 hours sleep each night. No screens of any sort for an hour before bedtime. A dark bedroom with a comfortable temperature. No alcohol (it may make you fall asleep but you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep)

Have goals for your life – these can be small goals like getting a piece of work done, bigger goals like getting fit or losing weight, or life changing goals like finding a new partner or a new job. Write your goals somewhere where you can see them regularly. Imagine what life will be like when you’ve achieved them then work backwards step by step drawing up your action plan.

Spent time in nature – do some gardening, take a walk in your lunch break, go hiking at weekends. Take time to enjoy what you see in nature.

Relax – download a meditation or hypnotic recording. Learn some relaxation techniques. A great one is to relax your shoulders and then breath in as you slowly count to five and out as you count to seven at the same speed. Repeat a few times.

Give back – research shows that helping others not only makes us feel better but it boosts our immune system. So help others, volunteer, give to charity, do whatever you can do to give back.

Laugh – watch comedies, go to comedy films, spend time with people who make you laugh.

OVER TO YOU – do you have any tricks you use to feel good? I’d love to know them. Tell me in the comments box.

Interesting article on Assertiveness in

What did you think of the article? I know that so many people worry that if they assertively state their needs they won’t be liked any more or will feel as if they are being selfish. But remember to treat yourself with the same respect you would treat others and you won’t go far wrong.

You’ll find many more tips in my book ‘How to be Assertive’, you’ll find it here..

Listening Cheat Sheet – 10 vital tips

Girl Telling A Secret To Her Friend

It’s impossible to be assertive if we are not listening well to what the other person says. These tips will help to keep you focussed. The conversation is much more likely to go well when you are listening.

  • Listen for the feelings, not just the words. These may show in body posture or facial expressions.
  • Avoid internal distractions so that you can give all your attention to listening to the other person.
  • Maintain good eye contact. It is normal for the listener to do more looking at the other person than the speaker. Speakers normally look away from time to time to think what to say next.
  • Reflect back what you understand them to have said. A simple ‘Can I just check I’ve understood that correctly. You’re saying that…’ is enough.
  • Don’t be judgemental or jump to conclusions about what the speaker means.
  • Choose a quiet time and place to speak. Turn off phones, music, screens, etc.
  • Show you’re listening by nodding and making small comments such as ‘mmm’, ‘I see’, ‘tell me more.’
  • Don’t rush to defend yourself if you are being criticised. Take deep breaths to keep calm. There are tips for dealing with criticism in my book ‘’How to be Assertive’
  • Ask questions that show that you have listened properly and are interested in what the other person has to say.
  • Practice, practice, practice.


This Cheat Sheet shows you how to handle conflict confidently and alternatively
This Cheat Sheet shows you how to handle conflict confidently and alternatively

How to Resolve Conflicts Assertively

Be willing to deal professionally with conflict situations even if you feel uncomfortable. Work towards a resolution acceptable to all.

Decide your goal – Give the other person a brief outline of what you want to discuss.

If at all possible, have the conversation face to face. Emails leave a lot of possibility for confusion.

Keep calm – use deep breathing where you breath in for the count of 5 and out for the count of 7. Relax your shoulders. These two steps should keep you in control.

Focus only on the current issue – don’t go throwing in old wounds.

Assume that the other person will co-operate. They may or may not, but if you go in assuming they will not, your approach, tone and body language will be unhelpful (even if you don’t realise it)

Use this format to express your concerns:

  • When you…  (state the behaviour which you want to discuss)
  • I feel… (state your feelings simply)
  • Because … (say why you feel this way)
  • In future I would like… (state clearly what it is you want)

Stick to the point, always in a constructive way. Think of it as two people trying to resolve a problem together.

Be open to suggestions the other person might make – they may contain something you hadn’t thought of.

At the end of the discussion, summarise agreed actions. Plan a review date if necessary.

Want to know more? You’ll find many ideas in my book How to be Assertive. You’ll find it here –