Thursday, 28 February 2013

How to Stop Letting People Walk All Over You

Do you ever feel as if the people in your life walk all over you? Do you wish that you could tell your boss that you don't want to work Saturdays, your friend that you'd like her to listen to you for a change, or those telephone salesmen to leave you alone? Do you find your brain saying "Leave me alone!" but your mouth saying "Yes, of course I will!"?

STOP - I don't want another flyer!
Being clear about what you want and don't want is far harder than it should be. Throughout our lives, we are given confusing messages - don't complain, keep a stiff upper lip, turn the other cheek, but stick up for yourself. While nobody wants to be treated like a doormat, the thought of standing up to others can be terrifying. After all, it might lead to confrontation or cause people to dislike us.

I realised, recently, that I had lived most of my life afraid to speak up for what I wanted. Even the thought of asking somebody to get out of my way on a bus filled me with cold dread.

Monday, 18 February 2013

What's Your Assertiveness Style?

It’s hard to get what we want in life. It’s even harder when we’re so afraid to tell other people what we want that we sit around hoping they’ll read our minds. How often do you have the guts to tell somebody that you want, or don’t want, something? Do you ever feel as if you let people walk all over you? Does the thought of complaining in a restaurant fill you will cold dread?

"Honey, of COURSE I don't mind if you still talk to your
ex every day...." (
It might be something you've never thought about, but picture this: You’re waiting for the bus, trying to balance your take-out coffee in one hand and your mobile in the other. Suddenly, you feel something slamming into you, spilling your coffee and making you drop your phone. You look around and see that a stranger, absorbed in their own phone, just crashed into you without a word of apology. Do you:
a)    Scream at them, telling them to watch where they’re f***ing going!
b)    Silently pick up your coffee and phone, thinking about how much the world steps on you
c)    Say nothing but curse under your breath, perhaps loudly shouting “ouch!”
d)    Approach the stranger and kindly point out what they did

 OK, so this situation obviously depends on a lot of things. You don’t want to miss your bus, and you don’t want to accidentally enrage a stranger, just in case they’re the next serial killer and respond to your “kind” request with a punch in the face, or worse. Besides, they might have a legitimate reason for being in such a hurry, meaning that you’d feel guilty for saying anything. Generally, though, the response you felt the most drawn to gives a clue about how assertive you are.