Tag: Communication Skills

Poking around in restaurant kitchens

Canalside, Amiens, France

The sun was glinting off the water as we walked along the canal side in Amiens in search of something to eat. The colourful restaurants all had tempting menus, but too many days of eating the three course ‘menus’ and a tightening waistband meant that I was looking for a smaller lunch.

Then I spotted it – a café that had one of my favourites, something that we rarely find in Britain. Galettes.

The waiter saw me looking and smiled ‘Bonjour Madam’, indicating the favoured waterside seating. But I refused to sit immediately.

Indicating the board displaying their offerings I asked in my best schoolgirl French. ‘Are you absolutely sure that your galettes are 100% buckwheat?’

‘Oui, madam, pas gluten.’ He replied, pulling out a chair for me.

This type of conversation is an everyday event for me. I have to be mindful and assertive to look after my health. Sometimes I even go and look in the restaurant kitchen to make sure the chefs understand how to prepare gluten free food.

I have Coeliac (Celiac) disease and that means I can’t eat even the tiniest amount of gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and any foods made with these grains and any meals made with these foods are out of bounds.

Au revoir Croissant, au revoir bagette, au revoir patisserie. And even goodbye to a whole range of foods and condiments containing ‘hidden’ gluten. These range from some ice creams and milk shakes, beer through to soy sauce.

This set me to pondering how others with this disease who may be less assertive than me, manage. I’m guessing they may sometimes eat meals they aren’t completely convinced are gluten free. Then they spend some time rushing to the loo and wishing they had been more persistent.

I wondered, too, how many other ways lack of assertiveness might effect your health.

Not ‘bothering’ the doctor

Passive people sometimes don’t want to bother the doctor with ‘little’ symptoms. They convince themselves that the doctor is busy and, after all, their symptoms are ‘nothing to worry about.’ Or they do think the symptoms are worrying but leave getting medical attention until things are too late.

Not pushing for appropriate tests

Doctors are busy people and sometimes don’t want to refer patients on for more specialised help. Passive people may sit in their consulting room wanting more but failing to be insistent. Result? They go away with a nagging feeling that more should be done.

Not asking questions

I sometimes wonder if doctors have training on how to get patients out of the door as quickly as possible. It sure seems like it, and that can lead many passive people to scuttle out without their questions asked, much less answered.

How to deal with these situations

My tip is to write down what you want before you leave home. Write down what you want to ask and what you want to happen. If appropriate, do some research beforehand so that you know what is appropriate for your symptoms or condition. And don’t feel you are wasting the doctor’s time. After all, without patients they’d be out of work! Your health is important, look after it.

If you want to know more about how to be assertive you’ll find many tips in my book ‘How to be Assertive’ available through Amazon and other e-book sellers.

* Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t wheat, but part of the rhubarb family and so safe for Coeliacs to eat.

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.

Five Basic Rules for Getting Along with Anyone, Anywhere

I recently read a great blog on this topic by Susan Karauss Whitbourne at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201508/five-basic-rules-getting-along-anyone-anywhere. 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.’

You can Shine

Yesterday somebody reminded me of the speech made by the late Nelson Mandela. It included the words below:

Our Deepest Fear

by Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others’


 This is such a wonderful piece of writing and one you can return to again and again if you hesitate to be assertive. I love the line ‘There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.’  So many people feel that they must fit in; they shouldn’t put themselves forward or stand out. It means that they never show who they really are. They never achieve their full potential.

And isn’t it exhilarating to realise that if we allow ourselves to shine, we give permission for others to do so. Being assertive is not about putting people down, or being aggressive. It’s not about hiding our skills and talents so others don’t have the benefits of sharing them. It’s about owning that side of yourself that is thoughtful, tactful, straightforward, encouraging and positive. Do this and you’ll be a great role model for those around you.

***** Try this! ****

Imagine yourself behaving assertively during the coming week. Note what would be different in how you behave and feel, and how others respond to you. Select one or two events/discussions and actually do it. Choose non-threatening situations where, if you think about it, nothing bad can actually happen. If you are successful, give yourself a huge pat on the back. If it doesn’t go quite to plan, that’s okay. Consider what you can learn from the experience for next time. There is no failure while you are still trying.

I’d love to hear from you

What topics related to assertiveness would you like to see in a future blog? Write to let me know in the comments box below.