2015年1月27日 星期二

You need to be more assertive. Read this article! Right now!【自信】

You need to be more assertive. Read this article! Right now!

Tired of being a doormat? Here are six tips to help you stand up for yourself

Do you struggle to make yourself heard? Photograph: Getty Images
We’d all like to speak up, stand our ground when put upon and express our real feelings and desires. Alas, the reality is often rather different. If you sometimes feel as if you’ve got the word “Welcome” stamped across your forehead, don’t despair. These six tips will help you to push back. 

Listening gives you power

Next time someone asks for an outrageous favour, resist the temptation to immediately yell: “Are you out of your mind? I don’t care, I’m not listening …” Instead pay attention to what they are saying. Ask questions rather than reacting. “If you’re able to listen, it gives you a lot more control and power,” says social anthropologist Gill Hasson, author of How to Deal With Difficult People. “Listening gives you more information to go on – it gives you specific points to argue rather than just ranting, or catastrophising about how they might react if you object.” Hasson observes that certain Question Time panellists have turned this into an art form. “We’ve all seen the ones who say: ‘I understand why you might say X because you say you feel Y but one thing I’d like to make you aware of is Z.’” Cue the person taking control and getting their own argument across smoothly without yelling.

Practise the gracious ‘no’.

“Many people struggle to say no because they haven’t got the language or else they suspect that they’ll look mean,” says Jacqui Marson, psychologist and author of The Curse of Lovely. “People confuse saying ‘no’ with negativity. Know the power of the positive no. You’re declaring, ‘This is who I am,’ you’re being true to yourself. If we can’t say ‘no’ then our ‘yes’ has no meaning. If you say yes to everything, people will begin to wonder, ‘Who is this person?’”
She suggests a three-step process. “First, thank the person who’s made the demand. Rather than launching into a diatribe along the lines of ‘F***ing hell Mum, you know I hate Uncle Keith. Are you out of your mind?’ you might say, ‘That’s so kind of you to remember that he’s on his own and might like some company next weekend.’ That sets a positive mood. Second, buy yourself some time. Say you need to check your diary, give them a definite time-frame for when you’ll get back to them so it doesn’t sound like a fudge. Lastly, decide what you can offer instead of their demand. Eg: ‘OK, I’ve thought about it. I don’t want him in the house all next weekend, but he could come for Sunday lunch.’ The other person might be furious but their emotions are not your responsibility. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t make you a selfish sociopath.”

Avoid extremes

Difficult conversations can trigger a huge amount of stress – which is precisely why some of us avoid such interactions in the first place. “When pushed to our limits, most of us get either compliant or defiant,” says psychologist Sarah Rozenthuler, author of Life-Changing Conversations. This is particularly evident in the workplace, when we’re all increasingly being asked to do more. “It’s helpful to know which end of the spectrum stress drives you to. Neither extreme is helpful. Compliant types are not nearly as popular with managers as you might think – they come across as bland and not adaptable. Defiant types, on the other hand are seen to be overly defensive and not team-players. Recognise your style, then consciously try and steer yourself away from that towards the middle ground.”

Identify social threats

David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, created the Scarf model, which maps out five ways in which a person can be “triggered” in any interaction. These “social threats”, the theory goes, can make us feel just as vulnerable as physical ones. The danger zones are status (which includes the feeling that the other person will criticise you or put you down),certainty (your ability to predict an outcome), autonomy (being able to control events), relatedness (the feeling of exclusion or not belonging) andfairness (the feeling that you’re being taken advantage of). Once you know where you’re particularly sensitive, you’ll be better placed to avoid over-reacting.

Choose your battles

Just because you know how to be assertive doesn’t mean you need to stand your ground over absolutely everything. This is particularly true of personal relationships. “Say your partner always likes to call the shots about how you spend your weekends,” says Hasson. You might tackle that by saying, ‘OK, I’ll go and see Whiplash this weekend because I know you want to, but next week can I have first choice on what we do?’ State your point of view, but then move on – don’t be bitter about it.” This last is easier said than done of, course. We might think that non-verbal grumpiness like eye-rolling or yawning are harmless but, according toresearch by Daniel Ames at Columbia University, expressions of so-called “strategic umbrage” can have a deep negative impact on the victim. Hasson suggests keeping the outright “no” in reserve for the things you really can’t stand doing, be it going to visit your partner’s mother, or a weekend at a rugby club. “You might say, ‘Yes, I know all the other partners are going, but this isn’t one for me’.” Know what your limits are and don’t be afraid to state them – it’ll make everyone much happier in the end.

Say nothing

Our social default setting is to collude with others and agree with the gang. Say you’re at a party and your views don’t chime with the dominant viewpoint on Ukip/Charlie Hebdo/organic quinoa. “The worst case scenario is where you change your viewpoint on crucial issues according to who you’re talking to,” says Marson. Apart from learning not to do that, she suggests: “Sometimes saying nothing is the most assertive position you can adopt. OK, ideally you would always speak up. But that’s hard. Experiment with being 1% different. In this case that might be refusing to agree or even nod. Just keep quiet. It’s a start.”

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