Category: Assertiveness

Do you mind read before a date?

ImageIt was the first day of the new year and Vikki decided she’d been alone for long enough. Divorced for three years, she hadn’t had a single date since. Yet she longed to have a special someone in her life, and her biological clock was ticking so loudly it was deafening at times.

Right, she thought, logging on, I’m going to find me a man.

She signed up to a couple of internet dating sites. Several of her friends had met interesting men through them.

She was surprised with the choice; there were quite a few guys in her age group who lived within an hour of her home. At least half a dozen were worth contacting.

I’ll just have a coffee before I contact them, she thought.

As she sat there sipping her drink, she started to think:

‘He’ll think I’m not attractive enough.’

‘He’s slim and I could do with losing some weight. He won’t fancy me.’

‘He’s sure to think I’m too old for him, even though we’re the same age. Men always want someone younger.’

She closed down the websites with a sigh. This new year she is still single and the biological clock is ticking ever louder.

Vikki had been struck down by another faulty thinking type – Mind Reading.

Knowing very little about the guys on the website she mind read them. She decided that she knew what they would think about her, before they’d even as much as exchanged emails.

Mind reading is an effective way to sabotage yourself. We probably all do it at times, but some people do it so much, it stops them getting on with their life.

Sound like you? Do you hesitate to act assertively because you ‘mind read’ the person you want to speak to, assuming they will be thinking negatively about you?

In an earlier blog, I highlighted some questions that will help you overcome faulty thinking. So, catch your faulty thoughts and ask yourself:

  • Is that true?
  • Is it verifiably true?
  • Would people who care for me say this about me?
  • Is the thought unhelpful, stopping me from doing what I want to do?
  • What would be more empowering to think?

*** Try this! ***

Challenge your thoughts with these questions and you can start to change your beliefs. Consider what you would say to someone who thought these negative things about themselves. What advice would you give them?

Get yourself a notebook, one that is small enough to carry around. Each time someone pays you a compliment, write it down. It doesn’t have to be a big compliment, even a ‘thank you, that’s great’ is an acknowledgement of something you did well. As you write down the compliment, you might feel uncomfortable. That’s okay, you’re just on the road to letting go of old hurtful feelings. Relax your body and repeat the compliment to yourself, out loud or in your head. Do this a few times until you can read it comfortably. If any negative, and contradictory, thoughts pop into your head, gently acknowledge them and let them drift away. Return to your compliment. Keep this practice going until you have filled a notebook, then get another one if you need to. Doing this will help you to appreciate yourself.

Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Do you have any questions about assertiveness? Are there any topics you’d like me to write about? I’d love to hear from you. You can write in the comments box below.

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Is life one catastrophe after another?

Interview and key concept
Keeping cool is the key to great interviews

James opened the letter excitedly. Yes! 

He punched the air triumphantly. He’d done it. He’d got an interview for a job he really wanted. Now for the preparation. He’d already done quite a bit at the application stage. He’d researched the organisation and the vacancy. He’d worked out exactly how his skills matched those they needed. He’d worked out the questions they were likely to ask, based on the Person Specification. And he’d decided how he would answer them.

On the day of the interview, he looked great. Best suit and tie, new haircut, shiny shoes. He sat on the train reading through his notes again, feeling as confident as he could be.

Then the train ground to a halt.

James wasn’t worried, he’d got about half an hour leeway. Nonetheless, he found himself looking at his watch every minute or two. It was fully ten minutes later before an announcement came over the loudspeakers:

We apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen. This is due to an engine failure. Another train is on its way. It should be here in about forty minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Groans were heard from every part of the carriage, James noticed. He also noticed that everyone then got on with what they were doing, reading; chatting; sleeping.

But not him.

His mind went into panic mode. I’ll be late! They’ll think I’m hopeless! If I don’t get this job, I’ll be out of work for years! It’s taken me forty three applications to get this one interview. I’ll never get another! At my age, no-one will want to employ me.

He started to sweat, his breaths became shallower and faster, his heart raced and he felt faint. He couldn’t think straight.

James had been struck by faulty thinking – he was catastrophising.

Because of his negative assumptions that everything would be catastrophic, his thinking went haywire and he assumed the worst. Catastrophic thinking will do that to you.

Eventually, James remembered that he read somewhere that taking a few deep breaths while relaxing his shoulders was a good way to get in control of his feelings. He tried it. To his surprise, it worked. He could think again.

He got out his mobile phone, called the company he was going to see and explained the situation. They were fine with him, and agreed to add him to the end of their list of candidates for the day.

*** Try this! *** 

 If you find yourself catastrophising, catch that thought. It stops you acting logically and assertively. Like James, take some deep breaths while you relax your body. Say to yourself Calm, calm. You’ll soon get back in control. Then you can work out what you can do about the situation.

Ask yourself questions like:

What’s the worst that can happen?

How likely is it that the worst will happen?

What is more likely to happen?

How can I help myself now to deal with this situation?

Using these simple techniques can make your life a lot calmer. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Have you tried these techniques? How did you get on?

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.

Interesting article on Assertiveness in psychcentral.com

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/09/05/assertiveness-the-art-of-respecting-your-needs-while-also-respecting-others-needs/

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.. http://goo.gl/bxQGxT

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.

Sex and Assertive Communication

I was amazed recently that a 24 year old woman I know had unprotected sex on holiday with a man she had just met. She didn’t insist on using condoms because ‘It’s embarrassing to talk about that sort of stuff.’ This professional and intelligent woman was prepared to risk pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases rather than state what she wanted. She’s not alone. Some research by the Assertive Sexual Communication Research Group found that of the students they studied, 33.79% of males and 41.87% of females reported feeling uncomfortable communicating something in a sexual situation. In the first of (at least) two blogs on this topic I list below four key steps to using assertiveness in intimate situations.

Key Step One – You have the right to say ‘No!’ Elizabeth Powell in her excellent book ‘Talking Back to Sexual Pressure’ lists 15 sexual rights we all have. A very important one is the right ‘to refuse any type of sexual contact, regardless of how aroused the partners might be.’ That’s right. Your partner is hot and ready, but that doesn’t mean you have to say ‘Yes’. You still have the right to say ‘no’, even if until then you have been enjoying some heavy petting. This is your right.

Key Step Two – Recognise manipulation I remember as a teenager being told all the tricks guys get up to to get you to agree to sex. Things like:

  • ‘If you love me, you’ll let me have sex,’
  • ‘You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now.’
  • ‘It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex’
  • ‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch.’

Don’t fall for it. It is manipulation. Try these assertive responses:

Their manipulation Your assertive response
If you love me, you’ll let me have sex I can love you, yet choose not to have sex with you.
You got me aroused, you’ve got to have sex with me now. I appreciate you are aroused, but I still don’t have to have sex with you.
It’s not good for a guy to get this horny and not have sex. If you are horny, go somewhere private and deal with it. I don’t want to have sex.
‘If you say no now, you’re a bitch. I’m not a bitch for saying no, and if you continue to call me names, I won’t see you again.

Key Step Three – Avoid risk situations Do you know that after a few drinks you are likely to do things you’ll later regret? If so, don’t drink in a situation where you may later wish you hadn’t had sex. Do you sometimes go to places where you may be unsafe? Walk alone late at night? It’s certainly true that you shouldn’t have to worry about these things, but sadly it is an absolute necessity.

Key Step Four – Ask for what you want If you are in an intimate situation, it’s okay to ask for what you want. Really. So, go ahead and say things like:

  • ‘Move your hand like this’
  • ‘Keep doing that, it’s great’
  • ‘Don’t do that, I don’t like it’
  • ‘Let’s just cuddle tonight’

Remember, while you have the right to make your request, the other person has the right to say ‘no’. The exception to this is if you ask them to stop doing something. Then you have the right to insist.

I’d love to read your comments on this article. Just type them in the box below.

Are you a People Pleaser?

 

How To Be Assertive
How To Be Assertive

Are you someone who loves to please people just because you like them? Or could it be that the real reason you want to please them is because you fear their disapproval?

Many people, especially women, suffer from the ‘please people syndrome’. This means they find it difficult to say ‘no’; to speak their mind when they disagree with others; to challenge people; to ask for what they want.

All this can lead to major stress because the please people person rarely gets their own needs met. This sometimes leads these passive people to get so frustrated that they eventually blow a gasket.

Let’s look at an example. John, that awkward bloke who sits near you at work, never washes up the mugs when it’s his turn. No-one else challenges him, and it’s often you who ends up doing it. Sometimes you become passive-aggressive and sigh loudly, clattering the mugs as you clean them, but you say nothing.

Each time this happens, you put a mental ‘saving stamp’ in a book marked ‘John’. Then one day you are tired or stressed and you notice the mugs need washing. This is the final stamp (read final straw!). You blow up. You shout at John, calling him all the names under the sun. He’s stunned. Okay, so he’s a bit lazy, but more often he’s forgetful.

‘If you’d reminded me, I’d have washing them. Honestly.’ he tells you.

You kind of believe him.

Now you feel bad. You never let John know you were angry with him. You assumed he would read your mind that you were upset, or at least get the idea from your exaggerated sighs. You feel guilty, and John feels hard-done-to.

Trouble is, if you’re a really passive person, you still won’t say anything when he forgets the next week (or the week after that). You’ll be there with your new savings book, putting ‘John’ stamps in it, until you blow up next time.

Solution?

Speak to someone gently as soon as they irritate you. Speaking out early on means that you will be in control of your emotions. They may not change their behaviour, of course. In that case, you may need to speak to them again; find another way round the problem or seek a more considered solution. It will depend on the situation.

Another thing to consider is whether you are sweating the small stuff – worrying about something that just isn’t that important. I used to worry about the loo seat being left up. But, hey, it’s really no big deal. I’ve thrown that stamp away and feel more relaxed for it.

I’d love to know if you are acting more assertively now. Perhaps you have some questions in relation to being assertive or would just like to comment on this blog. Do write in the comment box below.

My best wishes,

Patricia

How James’ faulty thinking made him panic

 

 

James opened the letter excitedly. Yes! 

He punched the air triumphantly. He’d done it. He’d got an interview for a job he really wanted. Now for the preparation. He’d already done quite a bit at the application stage. He’d researched the organisation and the vacancy. He’d worked out exactly how his skills matched those they needed. He’d worked out the questions they were likely to ask, based on the Person Specification. And he’d decided how he would answer them.

On the day of the interview, he looked great. Best suit and tie, new haircut, shiny shoes. He sat on the train reading through his notes again, feeling as confident as he could be.

Then the train ground to a halt.

James wasn’t worried, he’d got about half an hour leeway. Nonetheless, he found himself looking at his watch every minute or two. It was fully ten minutes later before an announcement came over the loudspeakers:

We apologise for the delay, ladies and gentlemen.This is due to an engine failure. Another train is on its way. It should be here in about forty minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Groans were heard from every part of the carriage, James noticed. He also noticed that everyone then got on with what they were doing, reading; chatting; sleeping.

But not him.

His started to panic.

I’ll be late! They’ll think I’m hopeless! If I don’t get this job, I’ll be out of work for years! It’s taken me forty three applications to get this one interview. I’ll never get another! At my age, no-one will want to employ me.

He started to sweat, his breaths became shallower and faster, his heart raced and he felt faint. He couldn’t think straight.

James had been struck by faulty thinking – he was catastrophising.

Because of his negative assumptions that everything would be catastrophic, his thinking went haywire and he assumed the worst.

Catastrophic thinking will do that to you.

Eventually, James remembered that he read somewhere that taking a few deep breaths while relaxing your shoulders was a good way to get in control of your feelings. He tried it. To his surprise, it worked. He could think again.

He got out his mobile phone, called the company he was going to see and explained the situation. They agreed to add him to the end of their list of candidates for the day.

If you find yourself catastrophising, catch that thought. It stops you acting logically and assertively. Like James, take some deep breaths while you relax your body. Say to yourself Calm, calm. You’ll soon get back in control. Then you can work out what you can do about the situation.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What’s the worst that can happen?
  • How likely is it that the worst will happen?
  • What is more likely to happen?
  • How can I help myself now to deal with this situation?

Using these simple techniques can make your life a lot calmer. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?