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On the Fourth Day of Assertiveness

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On the Fourth Day of Assertiveness

Graham Smith

Throughout these posts we have established that assertiveness shows that you have self- respect, whist still respecting others. For most of us, that means making sure that we deal with our feelings about ourselves, as well as other people, whilst seeking an appropriate end result.

We talked about passive and aggressive behaviour (as well as passive-aggressive) and established that those behaviours have their roots in a lack of self -confidence or fear of the outcomes of situations.

Only you will be able to decide what is assertive for you, depending on those internal feelings. It is also worth remembering that we always have a choice about how we behave and for a variety of reasons, you might decide not to behave assertively in any given situation.

Also, just because you behave assertively, doesn't guarantee that others will do the same, nor will it guarantee that you get the outcome you want. If you follow the process, though, you will feel better about speaking up for yourself and come to realise that actually expressing your feelings is a worthwhile thing to do.

Don't forget, that the more we practice anything, the easier it will get. 

I have previously shared the C.A.L.M. acronym - to help you respond in an assertive way:-

Cool down; Assert yourself; Look them in the eye & Mean what you say.

Being calm when asserting yourself is essential to allow you to express your thoughts, emotions, opinions and beliefs in an assertive, positive way. Your body language needs to reinforce your ability to be assertive. Walk steadily, hold your head up, relax your shoulders and jaw and spread the weight evenly on both feet.

It might help, if you have time before 'entering' the situation, to take three deep breaths - not such a good idea if you are already standing in front of the Boss!

One popular technique to use is called the 'broken record' technique. This involves repeating your point, time and time again, but importantly without raising your voice, become angry, irritated or side tracked. The parents amongst us may well have practised this before.

If you are returning something faulty to a store, it might go like this.

You - "I bought these shoes last week and the sole has come off. I would like a refund please."

Assistant - "It looks like they have had excessive use, they are designed for occasional wear."

You - "They are faulty, I have only had them a week - I would like a refund please."

Assistant - "They have clearly been worn out, I can not give you your money back"

You - "The sole has come away after only a week, I would like a refund please"

Now I could keep that up all day, and it also helps to know your rights in such a situation. The key here is to stay calm and also maintain eye contact. Glancing nervously down and hesitating can result in becoming easily side-tracked or just giving up.

Be clear what you want, stick to your guns, don't give up and be very, very calm. If necessary, practice at home in front of a mirror, so your responses become second nature.

Tomorrow, I'll share a great tip when someone is behaving in an aggressive way and it doesn't involve shouting back!