Increase assertiveness??

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Increase assertiveness??

Post by bonnieUK » Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:02 pm

Hi peeps :)

Various events in my life recently have shown me that I really need to be more assertive. If I'm challenged, criticised or unfairly blamed I just take it quietly, and often let situations like this cause me to doubt myself and my abilities :(

Friends & family have suggested I just go right ahead and confront whoever is bothering me, but they don't realise that this is like asking someone who has never exercised in their life to run a marathon! (also, I've tried this from time to time, only to have it backfire horribly in my face!).

It's kind of like Reinhard's "willpower muscles" analogy i.e. at the moment my assertiveness muscles are practically non existent, so I don't see how I can go from being the way I am to being a strong and confident character overnight - I'm thinking it needs regular small steps, but don't really know what these are.

I was just wondering if anyone has any "system" type ideas on how to do this in a healhty way? I'd love to hear your suggestions! :)

Thanks in anticipation!!

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Post by reinhard » Thu Feb 28, 2008 3:51 pm

Hi Bonnie,

I think a good first step might be just to collect more "data:" Pay close attention for a week or two and make a note of situations in which you feel like you could have/should have been more assertive. I'd actually recommend writing this down so you don't selectively forget.

Then see if you see any patterns, specific situations that come up over again. When you've boiled down your experience to just the problematic situations like this, a solution (to some of these patterns at least) might suggest itself -- if not, feel free to post the raw data here.

I'm not by nature the most assertive person either. One thing I've found helpful, when I'm clear on something I should do that I'm putting off because I'm, well, scared, is to write it down, either on my daily todo card or on my big picture (or both). Now it's an order. Then, in a way, by following it, I'm being submissive by being assertive. It sort of uses my own weakness as an opposite strength. Plus, and perhaps more importantly, once it's been written down I can't conveniently forget.


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Post by kccc » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:19 pm


I'm reading a book recommended to me at a conference that seems to relate. It's called "Crucial Conversations." Here's the link from Amazon.

Not sure if it's exactly what you need, but I'm finding it has some powerful ideas. (Aside - I LOVE it when I find a clear explanation of something that gives me a "schema" to describe things I've seen but not been able to tease out in a descriptive manner. As I was reading, I could find examples of what they were talking about in my own life.)

Hope this is useful.

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Post by navin » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:37 pm

The classic "How to win friends and influence people" by Dale Carnegie is worth reading for these often sticky human interactions.
Before criticizing someone, you should try walking a mile in their shoes. Then you'll be a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

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Post by bonnieUK » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:11 pm

Thanks KCCC! That book looks good, I think I will buy that :)

And thanks Navin - I have just dusted off my copy of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" to read properly (I tried reading it years ago, but somehow didn't find it an easy read, I got impatient with the stories and just wanted him to say "do X, Y and Z and A, B and C will happen" LOL) But I'm reading it now with a more open mind now and hoping the useful stuff will sink in! :)

Thanks also Reinhard, I have been thinking about writing things down as you suggested. I've been a bit reluctant to up to now because I have a policy of forgiving antagonists and releasing hard feelings, regardless of whether I've spoken to them about the issue or not (usually haven't!) and I thought keeping a written log would go against this. However, I suppose I can keep a written log as long as I keep it an objective account of the facts and avoid letting myself get too emotionally intangled in the details! Not sure if that makes sense, but hey, I'll give it a go :)

It's also been suggested I keep a written log of any issues so that if I do need to confront someone, I have facts to refer to so I don't end up backing down because I can't think of a suitable argument.

You're right on the "making it an order" thing too, e.g. if my boss tells me to confront someone about something, say a supplier, I have no problems being assertive at all, because "I've been told to". So that's definitley a strategy that could work for me.

Have a good weekend everyone! :)

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