Be OK with Speaking Up
“The problem is that people confuse being assertive with being a jerk,” explains Larry Winget, author of “Grow a Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business, and Your Sanity.” “Nothing could be more incorrect.” It’s simply respectful behavior, adds Dr. Joti Samra, a Vancouver-based clinical psychologist and host of OWN’s “Million Dollar Neighbourhood,” balancing your rights with the rights of others without putting one above the other.
Don’t Ignore Your Own Needs
“There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting people to like you or to treat people in a kind way,” says Dr. Samra, “but if you’re ignoring your own needs, and valuing someone else’s needs before your own, that’s a problem.” Like they say, you need to put your oxygen mask on before helping others.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
If you experience any hesitation or are feeling tense, worried or panicky about a request, trust your gut and say “no,” advises Dr. Samra. You may have a habit of always agreeing, but your immediate emotional reaction shouldn’t be ignored and is usually right.
Say No Nicely
If you need (or want) to say “no,” try tempering your response with some detail and add in a reason, suggests Dr. Samra. For example: “I’d love to see you, but I’m going to have to decline. I’ve realized I really need to get a decent night’s sleep before the work week starts, otherwise I’m wrecked for the day! How does the Tuesday early show work?” If you’re dealing with a request from a demanding boss, Winget suggests saying, “Sure, I would love to. What would you like for me to not do in order to have time to do what you need done?”
Lose Your Need to Please
You’ll need to accept the fact that if you say “no” some people will balk and might not like you, warns Dr. Samra, especially if you’re known as a “yes” person. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time. “To constantly seek the approval of others is a losing battle as someone is going to have a problem with you no matter what you do,” adds Winget. And be aware that it may take awhile (months, even years) to reestablish the parameters of the relationship once you start speaking up, says Dr. Samra.
Ditch the Takers
You know those mooching vampiric friends who will bleed you dry? Give them the boot. Dr. Samra suggests evaluating any frustrating relationships, and figuring out what you’re gaining from them in return for your friendship and kindness. “We don’t have to be equal in terms of what we offer each other, but the give-and-take needs to be equal.” Plus, be wary if someone uses anger or tears to get you to do what they want, warns Winget, since those are sure signs of manipulation.
If the word “no” is a foreign language to you, you’ll need to practice it. Dr. Samra suggests visualizing yourself saying it (maybe in front of the mirror), then trying it out in a low-risk situation, like at a restaurant. Just say no to the bread basket. See, that was easy.
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