Tag: communication

Tom can’t button his shirt…

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Sad businessman sitting at workplace and trying to find solution of problem
Life feels heavy at times

Tom struggled to do up his shirt. He needed to connect every button because he couldn’t button the waistband of his trousers and needed to disguise that fact. He breathed in and, struggling, did up the last button. But as he breathed out again he felt it strain. Damn! He’d have to wear a sweater, and he’d be too hot all day. He felt like Mr Blobby.

‘Going back to work after my winter holiday is going to be awful’ he thought. ‘Everyone will notice the extra fat round my middle. They’ll all laugh at me. That girl in the next office, the one I’ve been trying to get to know for a while now, will never look at me. No-one would.’

Inner Critics affect our ability to be Assertive

 Tom’s inner critic was having a field day. It was overgeneralising like mad. ‘Everyone’, ‘all’, ‘never’, ‘no-one’. These are all sweeping generalisations; examples of faulty thinking that affect our self esteem and therefore affect our ability to be assertive.

Do you have an inner critic? If you need to be more assertive, you almost certainly do. That damned voice that nags and complains, telling you how rubbish you are at this or that, or how things will ‘never’ work out for you. Trouble is, we tend to believe that voice.

 You don’t have to believe your thoughts

If you realise that you have an inner critic that stops you behaving assertively, the first step is to acknowledge that it is just an old recording playing in your head like an ear-worm. You don’t have to believe it. Here is a step-by-step approach to changing the recording….

 Step One – Acknowledge the inner critic. Recognise it for what it is. Say to yourself (gently) ‘Oh, there’s that inner critic again.’ If it is using a generalisation like:

‘Everyone’

‘No-one’

‘Always’

‘Never’

challenge that thought. Ask yourself questions like ‘Everyone? Really? Could there ever be an exception?’

Step Two – Allow it to gently drift away. If you get a picture with the thought, make the picture smaller, black and white and let it drift off so far you can’t see it any more. If it’s the voice alone, sing what the critical voice is saying to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday’. I guarantee it will make you laugh and, in doing so, take the sting out of the words.

Step Three – Replace the words with something more positive and empowering. If you can visualise, picture these words being true, even if you don’t believe them yet.

You see, your brain has been wired to repeat those words from the past. Taking these simple steps will start the process of re-wiring. Eventually, your brain will get the message and the new, empowering, thoughts will become automatic.

*** Try This! ***

 Go ahead and try the technique above. You’ll be delighted with the results.

I’d love to what you think of these ideas. Do leave a comment below.

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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.

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.

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.’

Strong Emotions Make You Stupid!

When I was training to be a hypnotherapist, I remember being told Strong Emotions make you stupid!

Now, there’s a thought. It took me a while to think about mistakes I’d made in my life and, sure enough, they’d all been linked to strong emotions (quite a few of them hormonal!). The amygdala, the bit of the brain that regulates our behaviour, gets highjacked by strong emotions. This means that our decisions may be flawed and we may not behave as sensibly or assertively as we would like.

Here’s an example. Tracey and Julie had been friends for many years. Both single, they’d always hoped for the right relationship, but neither had achieved what they wishes.  Still, they enjoyed being young and single and spending time together.

Unexpectedly, Tracey met Mr Right at a conference, and they soon become a couple. Julie was upset; let’s face it, her amygdala was overwhelmed and she became terribly jealous. Her friend was no longer available as readily as before, and Mr Right had to be taken into consideration with all planned get-togethers.

Instead of assertively discussing her fears, and finding a new way for the friendship to continue, Julie acted sulkily and became demanding. Tracey felt torn – her new partner was wonderful company, but she wanted to give Julie attention too. Increasingly, time with Julie was no longer fun. Her sulks and demands made her just hard work. Tracey tried for a long time, and several times tried to address the issue assertively with her friend.

Unfortunately, Julie was not responsive. Eventually, Tracey gave up and withdrew from the friendship. Julie’s lack of assertiveness caused a self-fulfilling prophesy to come true. She lost her good friend. Not because of Mr Right, but because of her own behaviour.

*** Try this***

If you have issues you need to discuss with someone, plan ahead for the conversation. Write yourself a script or practice with a friend or in front of the mirror. Use calming techniques if you need to. Choose a quiet time when you are both calm and unlikely to be interrupted. If you are not sure how to word things, you may well find ideas in my book How to be Assertive, available on kindle. You’ll also find some calming techniques there.

How Vikki’s faulty thinking stopped her finding a man

It 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 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. She went to grab her credit card to sign up to the dating site.

I’ll just have a coffee first, 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 put away her credit card 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 my last 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?

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?

Scary people? Not any more!

I was delivering some team building for a committee recently. The members were incredibly varied.

 

ImageSome were ground floor workers, some were managers and others were directors. One was the managing director. There had been an issue with lack of feedback to senior managers about problems the workers were facing, and the problems were causing low morale.

What, I wondered, caused this lack of communication? Were the managers so busy with their computers, blue sky thinking or whatever that they tended to ignore their staff. Hey, lots of managers do this. People can be a pain – you know – irrational, demanding, difficult. I bet you’ve worked for a boss who thinks like that. They’d rather email people than say ‘Good morning!’

But perhaps that wasn’t the answer, or not the whole answer. Maybe the workers had an ‘us and them’ approach. After all, many people are intimidated by people with a title grander than their own. And many people have been bought up with a ‘respect your elders and betters’ belief. My grandmother regularly used to say, ‘They all go to the toilet like us, dear!’ But at the same time, she would never have dreamed of challenging any professional person on anything at all. In fact, she called them Toffs.

I’ve always noticed how even people in authority are the same as everyone else. A varied bunch: some approachable and kind, some difficult and aloof, others somewhere in between.

If you find yourself hesitating to speak assertively to someone with more professional power than you, you can try this trick…

Get a mental image of the person. 

Got it?

Now give them Mickey Mouse ears and big red nose.

Smiling yet?

Add a revolving bow tie.

What colour was the bow tie?

Now dress them in a big, baggy t-shirt and tight, tight cycle shorts. 

Stomach turning yet?

Odd shoes and socks complete the picture.

How scary are they now? 

If you think this is too disrespectful or might make you laugh at an inconvenient moment, there is an alternative. Simply make your mental image of them black and white, small and distant.