How To Halt Put-Downs The Assertive Way
Once time has passed and your emotions have cooled (at least a little) try to get the person in a neutral environment alone. If the person continues to put you down in front of others, maybe consider continuing to address the situation assertively – regardless of who is listening – as outlined below.
Most of all, remember to remain calm (at least on the outside) with a moderated tone of voice and open body language throughout the duration of the conversation, no matter what is being said. Remember, the moment you lose control and get angry or aggressive you give your power to the perpetrator which is exactly what they want.
Step One – Find Out The Intention Behind The Comment, Explain Your Thoughts And Feelings And Say What You Want
Repeat the put-down and then ask…
‘Can you say more about what you meant by that comment?’
The person may then reply by a further put-down such as ‘nothing, you’re overly sensitive’. Repeat the question and if they do not answer continue by saying…
‘I took the comment to mean (x, y, z). Is that what you meant by the comment?’
If they still refuse to answer you say something along the lines of…
‘I thought your comment was disrespectful and it made me very angry. I will no longer accept this treatment, so please refrain from making such comments to me in future’.
If they answer you and it is clear they are suggesting you took the comment to mean something they did not intend say something to the effect of…
‘I am not convinced that the remark was meant in the way you are claiming, regardless of your intentions I find such comments disrespectful and they make me angry. I will not accept this treatment any longer so please refrain from making such comments to me in future.’
Step Two – Negative Enquiry And Negative Assertion
If they do offer further criticism ask for an example of when you have displayed such qualities.
If they give you an example ask if they feel it is an isolated event or part of a pattern.
If part of a pattern ask for further examples.
If they give you further examples, really evaluate yourself honestly, and, if you think they have a valid point, try responding by saying something like…
‘Thank you for talking to me about this. I accept that I have behaved (x, y, z) and I will be more mindful not to act in this way from now on. In future if you have an issue with me I would appreciate it if you spoke to me about it in a direct and constructive way alone. On my side I promise I will genuinely listen to your concerns. I will not accept offhand remarks any longer so please stop making such comments to me’.
If they can’t give you examples try firmly communicating something to the effect of…
‘You can’t offer me any genuine examples to substantiate your claims and I think your criticism is malicious and unfounded. I will not accept this treatment, so please stop making such comments to me in future’.
Stay tuned – next Monday we will explore what to expect when you begin to assert yourself and examine how to navigate the ups and downs of becoming more assertive.
This book has been awarded The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Self-Help Seal of Merit — an award bestowed on outstanding self-help books that are consistent with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) principles and that incorporate scientifically tested strategies for overcoming difficulty.
Did you find the assertive approach scary? How do you think you could overcome your nerves to be more assertive? Do you agree that being assertive is the most effective approach to put-downs? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.