Last week I covered about assertiveness and how it helps us to have success in our dating lives. So today I’m going to explain a little on how one can develop assertiveness as a life skill.

A quick recap of what we covered last week.

Assertiveness is not to be confused with aggressiveness.

Aggressive behavior is more focused on you winning all the time and does not in to take consideration the feelings of other people involved.

Assertiveness on the other hand is a about maintaining balance. You have to be honest about what you want but at the same time be considerate about the rights, and wants of others.

Some people are naturally assertive and it comes easily to them, but for the rest of us its not so easy but with practice we can get there. 

Step 1: Knowing What You Want

Knowing what your rights are, what you want in life and what behaviors are acceptable and not acceptable to you. I talk about this extensively in my other articles because I feel that the reason a lot of people settle for bad relationships (or anything bad in life) is because they don’t know what it is that they want or rather don’t want in life. Just to be clear, everyone wants to be loved no one grows up thinking they want to be in a dysfunctional relationship.

But not knowing where to draw the line and falling in to the myth of thinking someone else can complete you is what makes us settle toxic relationships. That is why it’s often better to take time to find out who you are and what’s important to you before rushing into a relationship.

If you don’t have a clear definition of what it is that you’re looking for it’s easy to find yourself in situations you don’t desire.

Step 2: What You Want Matters

Know that it’s okay to be who you are, and to want what you want (provided that your needs are grounded in reality that is).

Don’t be ashamed to ask for what you need. Its okay to be upset if you’re needs are not being met. You dont have to over look your emotional needs just to avoid rocking the boat. You you matter, your needs matter and your emotions matter.

Step 3: You Are Only Responsible for Yourself.

You can’t take responsibility for someone else’s thoughts, actions or words. You cannot take responsibility for how they may or may not respond to your request.

But you do have control over how you choose to respond, as long as you are not being disrespectful to the other person then you have the right to speak up for yourself.

Take responsibility for the way you feel and do not blame the other person. It’s important to let the other person know how their actions make you feel but its also important to communicate it in a way that doesn’t make the other person think you’re blaming them.

Remember if their defenses go up, they will most likely not want to listen to you.

Start off with something positive about the other person and let them know you appreciate them (if applicable).

Use “I” statements to convey your message. For e.g “I feel hurt when you do x, y and z, it makes me feel like I am not appreciated.”

Remind them of a time when they did something positive and how that made you feel. This is you positively reinforcing their good behavior. Also make a mental note to compliment them in the future when they do something nice for you, so they know how much they are appreciated.

Step 4: Learning to Listen

Be prepared to hear their side of the story. Learn to accept compliments as well as criticism. Learn to emphasize, and do not become reactive at what they might say. Keep your emotions in check and don’t lose your cool.

Discuss and find something that works for the both of you (for negotiable matters) if it’s non-negotiable weigh your options. Remember you have the right to say “NO” if it doesnt work for you.

Give them a chance to show you they’ve changed but make sure you constantly reinforce your boundaries. It’s one thing to keep saying no but if you feel the other person continuing to disrespect you, then be prepared to walk away. Actions speak louder than words. We teach people how to treat us by what we allow, what we stop and what we reinforce. If you continue to say “no” and still stick around when they make the same mistakes, you’re essentially telling them that you’re okay being treated badly.

Assertiveness is a good life skill to cultivate. It may not always get you what you want, but it gives you an opportunity to respect your own feelings and rights without being disrespectful to others.

Your Turn:

Have you ever said “yes” when you meant to say “no”? What do you think it is that fuels that drive to be a people pleaser?

photo credit: calm waters via photopin (license)

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