How to Be Assertive Without Alienating Others
Asking for what you want and need—and setting boundaries around what you don’t want—is a key life skill. But sometimes in our enthusiasm to practice this skill, we over-do our own assertiveness and end up with a partner, family member or friend who shuts down, gets angry or feels resentful. Don’t let the stress of the holidays cause issues. Here are four tips for developing your assertiveness in a way that will actually strengthen, deepen and enrich your relationship—thus avoiding the “alienation trap”:
- Get Clear.
Being assertive starts with knowing what you are—and aren’t—willing to be, do, or have. For many of us, coming to this knowledge is a real task unto itself. Here, it may be useful to ask: “In an ideal world, what would I like to happen?” Focusing on an ideal outcome opens our minds, prevents us from falling into passivity or “victim-thinking,” and helps us get really clear on what we want and don’t want.
- Set Boundaries.
Once you know what outcome you need (or want), share it with your family/friend. Pay attention to the way stating your boundary feels in your body. With practice, you can actually sense when you’re hitting the “sweet spot.” It can feel really pleasurable, even exhilarating, to express your needs or desires out loud. Phrases like “such and such doesn’t work for me” are simple ways of being assertive while maintaining connection with the other person.
- Make a Regular Habit of Stating Your Needs and Desires.
You can build your assertiveness the same way you build any muscle: exercise. Practice speaking up about your needs, big or small, on a daily basis. When you speak up about things that are less controversial—such as where to go to dinner, requesting help unloading the dishwasher or what TV program to watch—both you and your family get used to your assertiveness. It becomes easier for you to practice and for your partner to hear. Also, when bigger issues come along, you and your family will have a healthy process in place for dealing with differences in needs, and you’ll have greater confidence in the resilience of your relationship.
- Give as Much as You Get.
Assertiveness is a two-way street. If you want your boundaries to be respected, you must return the courtesy to the other person. When it comes to following through on a person’s reasonable request, actions really do speak louder than words. Please respect each other.
Author’s content used under license, © 2011 Claire Communications
And here are some more ideas to keep in mind this holiday season.
Happiness Comes From Love & Gratitude
Fortunately, happiness is really inexpensive and pretty simple to find, but that doesn’t mean that it comes easily. However, if you’re bold, and truly willing to commit to a few simple steps, happiness will be yours in just a short while.
1. Quit Complaining.
The first step to finding happiness is to stop trying to find what’s wrong with the world around you. There’s plenty to complain about, but if you focus all of your attention there, you’ll never see the good stuff.
2. Choose To Live In Love.
Falling in love with the world (and people) around you is a sure step toward happiness…and it’s easy. Simply accept people for who they are, and choose to see the good in them. Don’t expect it…CHOOSE it…then express it.
3. Appreciate Everything.
Start expressing your gratitude every day. If you’d like, keep a gratitude journal and write down at least 3 things you’re grateful for every morning. Before long, you’ll have more things to appreciate than you can count.
Becoming happy may mean “looking like a fool” or changing A LOT of your current habits, but I promise you…it sure beats the alternative.
What can YOU do to create more happiness in your life TODAY?