Category: Relationships

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.

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 –

Five Basic Rules for Getting Along with Anyone, Anywhere

I recently read a great blog on this topic by Susan Karauss Whitbourne at I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too.

The ‘Acid Communication’ style she talks about is the same as the passive/aggressive style you’ll find discussed in my book ‘How to Be Assertive.’

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.