We can all think of times where we know we should have stood up for ourselves but we did not because we were caught off guard, afraid to be misinterpreted or even hurt somebody. When we don’t express our needs or boundaries, frustration build up until we explode. As a result we end up feeling […]
We can all think of times where we know we should have stood up for ourselves but we did not because we were caught off guard, afraid to be misinterpreted or even hurt somebody.
When we don’t express our needs or boundaries, frustration build up until we explode. As a result we end up feeling guilty and angry:
Many of us find really hard to put across our point of view in a constructive manner. Learning assertiveness allows our needs to be met and create better relationships in all areas of our life.
In this blog will explain seven proven tips and ways to communicate I have been using as a lawyer with many different clients and in many situations.
Before we dive in I want to remind you that if you want to feel more empowered in life, download the free e-book which will help you focus on what you can control in your environment, which is always is a great place to start.
This is “the” essential component of being authentically more assertive. You need to have figured out for yourself what you want in life. I would recommend you watch my last video on learning how to decide what you want in life.
If you want to stand up for yourself, you have to have your goal and your vision or outcome well laid out and well defined. Then, you need to have a strategy that matches your goals to avoid being with a vague sense of dissatisfaction and frustration, which is very difficult to articulate. If you cannot articulate then you can’t negotiate your position in life. If you know what you want and you know why, then you can make a case for yourself.
People often feel embarrassed because they assume their needs are not valid or not as important as other’s.
What you need to realise is that if you are not used to communicate your needs, then it is not that natural to you. This may require a little bit of work, especially for empaths and co-dependents because we are often programmed to think our needs are not important.
Learning to know what you want and therefore acquire certainty in this respect as mentioned before will greatly improve your sense of self.
Then as you express these needs, which is the practice of becoming assertive, you need to assume they are valid. Start with small needs and easy requests. Give a reasonable explanation when you make a point for yourself.
Let us imagine that your mum is always venting her grievance in front of the kids. You may explain that you are ready to listen to whatever she has to say but you would appreciate she does not criticise you in front of the kids. You prefer to protect them from adult worries they are not equipped to deal with. Also adults’ quarrel negatively impact their perception of family reunions, which in the end does not help anybody.
In this exemple, raising the children’s genuine interest, gives an option to your mum to either respect your limits or to refrain from complaining all together. The obvious interests of the children supersedes your mother’s complaints making your request compelling.
Authentic assertiveness comes from a place of independence. The best mindset to develop is to believe that you don’t really need any specific person and in our previous example you don’t need the other person, your mother, to change her behaviour or even to agree to what you have to say.
Your goal is to:
What matters the most is to know that you will be fine whether the person accepts your point of view or not
Enter the conversation with a few options in mind (and why you don’t need the other person) so that you never walk into a discussion (dating, business or friendship), in a position of neediness, which is the surest way of being walked all over.
The best way to achieve this result is to focus on what you bring to the table that is unique in any interaction. being ready to walk away from any interaction is scary but you do better every single time adopting such mindset.
Being assertive is also about accepting responsibility and consequences of your behaviour, no matter what could be the other’s reaction.
Please remember that negotiations and conflicts are somewhat indistinguishable. Avoiding conflicts in a short term only pushes the issue in the mid and long term but does not preserve you from the inevitable. When something is not right in any project or situation, confronting the issue as soon as possible is probably the only responsible outcome. The pain you are trying to avoid by not doing so will have multiplied ten fold when it eventually comes to the surfaces with many more collateral damages.
Dr Jordan Peterson practices a technique he calls “pacing your reality” where even though he does not share the other person’s opinion, he clearly shows he has acknowledged and even understand their point of view. In my video, I have used an interview where Dr Peterson, who is religious, demonstrates how compelling atheists’ arguments be.
By showing that he has actually considered and even validated the other’s belief (although he still disagrees), Jordan Peterson shows both respect towards the person and confidence in his own opinion.
This “technique” allows people to change their mind. In any conversation, one of the hardest thing is to admit your mistake. People will rather stick to their initial position rather than feeling like an idiot for having it in the first place. Jordan Peterson, while integrating and understanding the other’s point of view, explains why he has come to a different conclusion. This gives the person the opportunity to go a step further in the reasoning rather than denying themselves. This is subtle but strategic to the outcome of the discussion.
Once the person has changed their initial position to adopt a point of view similar to yours, be extra careful not make the person feel stupid about it. Allow people to save face.
Working out win /win outcomes requires some empathy and putting yourself in the other’s shoes.
The idea is to show how your request is going to bring value to the both of you, which creates a more fluid dialogue. Assertiveness is a dialogue. Aggressiveness creates debate. Assertiveness skills are about educating the other person to understand your point of view, which can never be done from a place of righteousness.
Assertiveness in itself is confidence whereas aggressiveness comes from a defensive state of mind and conveys an “I feel threatened” psychology. Aggressiveness is in fact the contrary of assertiveness. Stay calm, articulate, speak slowly. There is no need to do big gesture, to say too much or overdo it. The way you deliver your message is quite important.
Avoid generalisation such as: “you always do this or that” or “ you never do this or that”
Start from your feelings and avoid hijacking other’s experience, “ I feel”, “in my experience” or “according to my observations”, etc.
In the conversation, you explain:
Avoid putting the other in a corner and making him or her feel that he/she has not much of a choice. Maybe you can offer/anticipate a few solutions that would meet both your needs. This also allows the other person to have a say in a discussion.
Showing flexibility does not mean that you will accept everything. Here come the non-negotiable. I sometimes use the “I have a rule” technique to avoid being dragged into situations, I know will be detrimental to me.
If you raise a general boundary, people are more likely to respect it as it applies without distinction and takes the blame away from the other. Also, it will prevent you from having to deal with disturbing behaviours.
Telling a story is a technique you might want to use in a demonstration rather than a simple request.
Being able to make your case while telling a story is very powerful. Ability to tell a good story is very underrated. In my video, Jordan Peterson flows quickly over no less than five different topics all connected to the subject of his demonstration. These next clips were all taken over a span of around 3 min
Dr Peterson also uses another technique that gives him massive charisma: the use of Archetypes.
Archetypes have the power to take a demonstration to another level in people’s imagination because they widely and deeply talk to the human psyche. They are like the building blocks of the human condition, concepts that everybody (whatever their background and social status) understands intuitively. Commonly used in fairy tales and legends as well as folklores, archetypes leave a print within our psyche from our most tender ages. Series like Games of thrones use archetypes for their character. Sometimes the most convincing way of explaining a point of view is through a narrative and the journey of the hero.
Archetypes connect with people on a deeper level, they intuitively feel true and if you can relate a point, a demonstration to something familiar through an archetypal story, you are going to be more persuasive.
At last, I would like to leave you with this thought: you owe to yourself and the world to speak up your truth because if you don’t, you let people come to power who won’t let you speak up. I want for all of us to awaken to our own truth one by one to preserve freedom for the collective.
Aude is an ex corporate Lawyer with a passion for health, self development and independence which lead her to give up her former career to help others through health.
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