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On the Twelfth Day of Assertiveness...

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On the Twelfth Day of Assertiveness...

Graham Smith

Well here we are, the 12th day... and to finish off our assertiveness techniques, I thought 12 tips to help avoid being a people - pleaser might be useful, especially at holiday time!

As I said in previous posts, we all  have a choice about our communication styles and Christmas time is obviously one when we just might put a few other people first! It's still a good idea though to make sure you are exercising your true choices about assertive communications..

1. Realise you have a choice.

People-pleasers often feel like they have to say yes when someone asks for their help. Remember that you always have a choice to say no.

2. Know your priorities.

Knowing your priorities and values helps you slow up on people-pleasing.  It allows you to really understand when you feel comfortable saying no or saying yes, so ask yourself, “What is most important to me?”

3. Delay.

Whenever someone asks you to do something for them, it’s perfectly okay to say that you’ll need to think about it. This gives you the opportunity to think through whether you have the ability to help them. It is also important is to ask for full disclosure about the commitment!

Consider things such as; how stressful is this going to be? what might I have to give up? am I going to feel under pressure? 

If the person insists on an answer straight away, your automatic answer does not have to be yes. Once you say yes, you’re stuck, but if you say no, automatically, you give yourself an option. It means that you could say yes later if you’ve realised that you’re now available and you want to help out.

4. Set a time limit.

If you do agree to help out, don't leave the timeframe open ended - for example give the time that you would be available such as from 6p.m. to 10 p.m.

5. Consider if someone is taking advantage.

Sometimes, people use manipulation and flattery to get their way. They might say something like; ‘Oh you’re so good at sewing, would you make these curtains for me?’ or ‘I don’t know how to put this furniture together, but you’re so good at that sort of thing, will you give me a hand?"

This type of flattery seeps into your subconscious and before you know what you've done, you find yourself agreeing. Be prepared, stick to what will work for your situation, not theirs.

6. Find a stop sign.

Figure out what you can say to yourself to stop you from automatically people-pleasing. Is there someone who can always catch you out by asking for help when you are off guard? Visualise a neon STOP sign when you see them coming towards you.

7. Say no with purpose.

We have discussed the challenge a simple No can be, but as with most things, practice makes it easier. Remind yourself the reasons that you are saying No, and remember that it will help free up your time to be able to say yes to other situations.

8. Remember to demonstrate that you understand.

Some people often think that being assertive means being selfish and showing no thought for others. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let the person know that you understand their situation, but unfortunately, you can’t help. This shows your respect for them, as well as your respect for others. 

9. Choose your situation.

When asserting yourself, consider the impact on you and whether it is worth it. Just like choosing your battles - It may not be worth telling your Boss about her irritating, but minor habit, but if you are really short of time, it makes sense to tell your colleague that you are not able to go out for that drink after work.

10. Start small.

As I said before, don't rush off to climb Kilimanjaro without training, advice and preparation. (I'm hoping to do that, but giving myself 18months to prepare.) So start small - like any training programme, so if you want a pay rise - talk to your supervisor and practice the scenario with others, before rushing into the Boss with your demands.

11. Don’t apologise, especially if you are not to blame.

People-pleasers, including many, many women are serial apologists. We tend to say sorry as a fill in word - even when someone else bumps into us! Notice how many times you use the 'sorry' word in a day and only apologise if you’re really at fault. Are you actually responsible for the situation? So often this is not the case. 

If you have chosen to say no to a request, don't apologise and then fill in with lots of excuses, the minute you start making excuses, you are just giving the other person lots of room to manoeuvre and  come back with other suggestions that will allow you comply with their request. 

12. Know that you can’t be everything to everyone.

People-pleasers want to make everyone happy and while you might make someone happy in the short term, frequently, it doesn't work in the long term.

The reality is that people who protect their time and energy and don’t say yes to everyone also know that they are not responsible for making other people happy.

In the long term and for our own health and well being, we have to recognise that the only thoughts and feelings we are responsible for are our own.

As all the airline companies say - put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else!

Being assertive, respecting yourself and others is the best oxygen mask there is.

Happy Holidays!

If you want to try some more assertiveness techniques - sign up here and get some more details of our on-line plans for the New Year