05/01/2014 11:33 GMT | Updated 05/03/2014 05:59 GMT

Fine Tune Your Assertiveness Skills


"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."

JK Rowling.

JK's quote really resonates with me as I was bullied so much at school I grew up terrified of expressing how I felt in fear of being punished or attacked. I waffled, defended and justified my reasoning or I went to the other extreme and clammed up.

Bottom line was I didn't feel worthy.

I was so afraid of conflict and when I did try to be assertive, I came across as being aggressive. However that's a long time ago before I mastered my communication skills and fine tuned my assertiveness skills.

Understanding the backbone of being assertive just might be the best investment you ever make.

I learned that the backbone of assertiveness means not always expecting to get my own way and also having an 'I like you, but I like me too' approach. Feeling comfortable when facing the other person, and looking them in the eye, keeping an open mind whilst demonstrating open body language and always watching the words I used, for example -swapping 'should' and 'must' to more empowering words like could' and 'might'.

When I fine tuned these skills I felt in control of myself, and much more competent and refused to allow others to manipulate or control me, thus boosting my confidence. I learned the heard way that in order to have others take you seriously you must address issues as they arise, not a week or month after. Now I place high priority on having my rights respected whilst always respecting the rights of others. No longer do I strut around with a sense of entitlement and expectations of everyone meeting my needs, nor do I any longer claim responsibility for how others think and feel.

So, if you want to fine tune your assertiveness skills I suggest you consider your options and process things before replying to an email or a text or a question or a remark from someone. Always respond and never react and definitely do not smile if you are angry. Make sure you don't violate others rights, nor generate fear in anyone. It's crucial always to make sure you are not using shaming language or manipulating others to do what's good for you. Assertiveness is not about being aggressive so don't humiliate others or flag up their shortcomings, and never shout or assassinate their character by taking their inventory.

Here are a few examples :

1. "John, sorry I am not comfortable loaning money but am happy to help you develop a spending plan".

2. "Mum I love to talk with you, but it doesn't work for me to speak after 9pm on week nights".

3. "Janice I find it unacceptable for you to swear in front of my children, please refrain from doing so".

4. "James you need to go watch TV downstairs for an hour, I need space, please do not disturb me".

5. "Thank you for your opinion, but I am not comfortable with doing what you suggest and will do what feels right for me".

6. " If you continue to talk over me and at me I am going to walk away"

7. " I only respond to requests, not to demands"

Final word

You may find you have a little of all of these traits, or some may leap out at you more than others. Hoowever these tips are not a magic formula, you have to make it happen. So what are you waiting for? Fine Tune Your Assertiveness - You'll feel great about yourself'.

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