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Being Assertive with Friends and Family

Sometimes our family and friends can take us down a road of stress and anxiety that keeps relationships strained and our self-esteem lower than it should be. They may seem to have no qualms about getting into your business and taking up your valuable time. A bit of assertiveness on your part could solve the problem. It could be that you’re the problem – not them. You may have trouble being assertive with your family and friends, thinking it will come off as unloving or disrespectful.

Unlike being assertive in the workplace, advancement or success isn’t the outcome you want – harmony is. You want to be understood and respected by your family and enjoy your time with them.

When it comes to developing the skills you need to be assertive with family and friends, remember the following tips:

  • Learn to say No Being assertive with family and friends is sometimes more difficult than being assertive at work. Naturally, love is a strong emotion – much stronger than workplace buddies – and it may be more difficult to find the courage to say, “No.”
  • Be clear rather than confusing. Don’t apologize or be unclear about your intentions when conversing with friends and family. Use verbiage that isn’t rambling, gets to the point and leaves no doubt of your intent. For example, if you’re asked at the last minute to do something that leaves you pressed for time, be clear that you must have more notice.
  • Tell them how you feel. If they don’t know, they’ll keep on treating you as always. They should feel honored that you were honest and forthright enough to give your emotions a voice. Be clear in what you want their relationships with you to be like.
  • Rehearse the conversation. Just as you would with co-workers – rehearse the conversation you’ll have with friends and loved ones in front of a mirror. Practice body language and be sure to look them in the eye when talking.
  • Don’t elaborate on your wishes and concerns. Sometimes, the less said is best. Avoid accusatory words and statements which may change the entire dynamics of the conversation and make them feel defensive.

You can succeed in keeping your personal relationships intact when you approach the situation with courage and determination. Remember, you don’t have to feel apologetic or guilty about expressing your wants and needs.

Complaining Effectively for Better Results

No one likes a whiner – but complaining, when you know how to do it effectively, can make a difference in getting what you want out of life. You may have noticed that some people are great at complaining to a company about something they’re disappointed in and immediately get results. They seem to know exactly how to garner a good outcome from a deal gone bad. When you learn to communicate effectively by flexing your assertive muscles, you’ll experience a boost of self-esteem and personal confidence which will help you succeed in all areas of your life. You’ll learn to be less resentful or feel inadequate or guilty about your decisions and will experience more freedom in your life. But, most of all – the way you communicate will improve your relationships, both at work and at home.

An assertive personality type usually gets what he wants because he knows how to plan the complaint to get results. The aggressive personality tends to shout and express anger in a negative way and the passive personality probably wouldn’t complain in the first place.

To become an effective complainer and get the results you desire, you’ve got to be sure that the person hearing it understands the problem and your feelings about it. Here are some clear-cut rules about complaining effectively:

  1. Know what outcome you desire. What do you want the outcome to be? Plan what you’re going to say so that you can be perfectly clear in your complaint about what you want the outcome to be.
  2. Complain in person, if possible. Meeting a person and facing him eye-to-eye is much better.
  3. Remain calm. Even though you may be angry, try to remain calm and focused in your complaint. Carefully weigh your options for the complaint and make it clear that you expect a resolution that’s mutually beneficial.

If nothing works and you don’t get the desired results, at least you know you’ve taken the assertive approach and stood up for your rights. Your complaint effectiveness will improve over time as you develop your assertive mindset.

Developing an Assertive Mindset

An assertive mindset to deal with relationship problems means that you must feel self-confident about your ability to speak up and solve the problems without feeling guilty or apologetic.

Developing an assertive mindset begins with knowing who you are and appreciating the value you bring to relationships. When you have this understanding, you’ll be able to gather the self-confidence you need to become assertive around family and friends. Being “on call” for your loved ones can be physically and emotionally draining. You need to practice caring for yourself so that healthy relationships are maintained and you don’t lose yourself in the process of caring for others. One word of caution: If you’re dealing with a friend or loved one who is physically abusive, speak to a professional (doctor, psychologist, or counselor) before asserting yourself. A helping hand is important as you navigate difficult relationships.

How to Make Assertive Decisions

Making assertive decisions is not easy for everyone. Some have to work at the trait of being able to effectively express their feelings, wants and needs. Sometimes you may not feel like making a decision, but you must.

The outcomes of your assertive decisions may not always be what you want, but it will put you in control of your own destiny and that’s a good thing. More often than not, the outcome will be positive and your self-esteem will get a much-needed boost. First, you’ve got to change your mind about how “limited” you are and about the negative beliefs that have been instilled in your mindset that keep you from your full potential. Here are some tips that might help in your quest to make more assertive decisions:

  1. Set boundaries as a guide for the future. There are certain behavior patterns that you consider permissible – and some that just aren’t okay with you. These boundaries will go far in helping you decide how far you’ll let people push you without taking a stand.
  2. Let people know your mindset. Immediately speak up if someone pushes past the boundaries you’ve set. You can’t expect others to know what you believe or are thinking, so you’ve got to express yourself one way or the other. Otherwise, you’ll be very unhappy with the relationship in the future.
  3. Assume responsibilities for your own words and actions. If you let problems go on in a relationship, you’ll create an unhappy environment. Your problems are your responsibility, and you must take action and not expect others to “fix” them for you.
  4. Other People are not your problem. Don’t worry about what others think and believe. You can only solve your own problems and begin to make changes to express your personal ideas and beliefs. There may be consequences when you do begin to assert yourself, but it’s better than the stress and anxiety you’ll feel if you don’t speak up.
  5. Dont expect immediate results. It takes time to become the assertive and confident person you want to be. You’ll experience times where you feel you’ve let yourself down – and the other extreme of being happy because your self-esteem suddenly rises to the top of the ladder. Be patient.

Assertive Decisions Keep You from Becoming a Doormat

Assertiveness is the core communication skill that keeps you from becoming a doormat and helps others understand you without judging.

Doormats have a difficult time saying, “No,” and may end up angry and resentful of others. Taking a more assertive stance will free you up to do more of what you want and are meant to do and help you enjoy life more. Since assertiveness is based on mutual respect, it’s an effective way to communicate with others and solve conflicts that are bound to arise in relationships.

When you allow yourself to become a doormat, you’re giving others the ability to manipulate you into doing things you may end up being sorry for. For example, if your boss or co-worker asks you to take on another project that you don’t have time for, you may say yes out of a need to please. Later, you’re faced with long evenings of overtime and weekends that you don’t get to spend with your family. If you’ve been a doormat personality for a long time, you may get some resistance when you begin to make assertive decisions. After all, people around you are used to having you act in a passive way so they can always count on you when they need something done.

As you progress on your assertiveness journey, you’ll find that you’re better able to cope with any problems that come your way. And, you’ll also improve your communication skills with others – from bosses to spouses.

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