Assertiveness

How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Three

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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?’

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How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part Two

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Although being assertive is beneficial, many – including me at times – shy away from it out of fear. Fear of conflict, fear of failure, fear of humiliation or even fear of further put downs. One of my favorite books is called ‘Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway’ so when possible I try to push through my fears because I know what I resist, persists.

 

Trust me, if I can do this, you can too. Just take a look at what you stand to gain below. It’s worth it, I promise.

 

 The benefits of being assertive

 

Assertiveness is all about creating healthy boundaries for how you wish to be treated and should not be confused with aggression which violates others disrespectfully. When we assert ourselves we shift from a victim mentality to an empowered one. We reap the rewards of increased self-esteem when we communicate to others we deserve to be treated with respect because we communicate our inherent worth.

 

Whilst dealing with put-downs is quite a specific area of assertiveness, if you feel you would like to be more assertive in your day to day life, I would suggest reading my other assertiveness articles as featured below:

 

How To Free Yourself And Assert Your Rights

 

A thorough look at the intrinsic rights we are all born with and how to protect them by creating boundaries.

 

Assertiveness: A Journey Worth Taking

 

Examines and explains advanced assertiveness techniques and breaks them down in a manageable and easy way.

 

Sick Of Over-Extending Yourself? Learn How To Say No

 

Explains in depth how to overcome the people-pleasing trap and gives step by step instructions on how to use assertiveness to say no.

 

The criticism quandary; How to handle criticism and emerge bigger and better for it

 

Looks at how to handle criticism in a healthy, constructive and assertive way, enabling you to use it to propel you forward.

 

How To Halt Put-Downs – Immediate Responses

 

The best way to respond to put-downs – at least initially – is with humor. This disarms the perpetrator and fails to give them the reaction they want which is anger, you feeling ashamed or humiliated. A standard and very effective response to almost any put-down is:

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How To Halt Put-downs And Come Out On Top Part One

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‘I felt awful I missed the meeting this morning.’

‘At least you made it into work this time!’

‘Yea, I guess so…’

 

We’ve all experienced the bitter aftertaste of a put-down which caught us completely unawares. How do you typically respond? If you’re anything like me, you’ll think of the perfect response a day late, leaving you feeling frustrated and angry, both at yourself and at the person who delivered the sour remark.

 

Whilst living in shared accommodation in London I had the unfortunate pleasure of sharing with a man who by all means was the king of put-downs. I honestly think he lived his life in a state of constant anger and frustration and the only way he knew how to alleviate his pain was to put others down. Needless to say he was a very unpleasant character.

 

At the time I knew nothing about assertiveness and so had no idea how to reply, leaving me constantly bewildered and feeling attacked. I can see now that my ‘perfect responses’ were actually just put-downs themselves, and would have left me entering into a competition on passive aggression, which he would obviously win.

 

The reality of put-downs is that they are almost always indirect and so virtually impossible to address at the time without resorting to demeaning remarks back. Thankfully, after learning more about assertiveness, I am now better able to defend myself against put downs, but it still takes a great deal of courage to tackle them in a direct way and there have been times when I’ve fallen short of being assertive. Having said that, when I do respond assertively, I feel incredibly empowered, having said I find the behavior unacceptable.

 

Throughout this month’s series we will address how to respond to put-downs in such a way that you too feel empowered; standing up for yourself whilst maintaining your integrity by being respectful, diplomatic and firm.

 

What Is A Put-Down Exactly?

 

Dictionary.com defines a put-down as:

 

“A disparaging, belittling, or snubbing remark. A remark or act intended to humiliate or embarrass

someone.”

 

The Psychological Reasons People Give Put-Downs

 

Often those who use put-downs towards others are very insecure and hide behind them, feeling it the only way they can safely communicate their anger or elevate themselves socially.

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Managing expectations when developing the skill of receiving criticism well

Whenever we are learning a new skill it invariably takes consistent effort and time. When practicing receiving criticism well, be patient with both yourself and the process. Transformation may not come overnight but with consistent effort you’ll reach a stage where you don’t even have to think of it any more and it comes naturally.

 

Look back to last Friday’s post where you were asked to list how you would like to feel after receiving criticism and keep those notes somewhere where you will see them often to motivate you and inspire you to continue with the work.

 

Remember you are working towards an empowered, assertive you whereby no one gets away with mistreating you and you are in control of the conversation! To me that is something worth working towards!

 

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Receiving Criticism: How to keep persisting when times get tough

Let’s be frank – it’s never easy to receive criticism and most of the time it brings up very uncomfortable feelings. The good news is that with practice such as role play (never underestimate its power!) and with doing things such as inviting criticism from people you feel safe with (like friends) you’ll be able to develop your assertiveness and diplomacy skills so that it bothers you less.

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Receiving Criticism in action: How would the steps in this series help you to achieve your aims?

Spend five minutes outlining how, by using the steps outlined in this series, you would be able to feel the way you would like after receiving criticism (as revealed in doing yesterday’s ‘in action’ exercise).

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Receiving Criticism in action: List your aims

How do you want to feel in future after receiving criticism? Take five minutes to list the way you want to feel after receiving criticism in future. For example, do you want to feel empowered, more self-aware, eager to use it as a tool for future development, or even justified, should you have exposed malicious and unconstructive criticism?

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Receiving Criticism in action: Review

How would this week’s steps have helped both parties feel in control and validated?

 

Reflect upon this week’s role play and discuss with your role play partner the ways that – by saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you – you both felt in control of the conversation, validated and heard and mention what was said to make you feel this way. Thinking back was it a cathartic exercise? If not, why not? Can you identify any areas which could be improved upon?

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Receiving Criticism in action: Did you think the role play was realistic?

When you role played saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you did you think the conversation was realistic? If not, why not? How do you think emotion would impact the conversation? Role play again, this time with the person delivering criticism being more harsh and try your best to respond as outlined in Monday’s series post.

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Receiving Criticism In Action: Read Monday’s series post and role play

This week we’re building upon our receiving criticism assertiveness skills by taking our examples of a time when we received criticism and, after reading Monday’s series post, practicing saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you in role play.

 

The aim is that in practicing the often pride-swallowing, cringe-worthy acts of saying sorry, asking for feedback and saying thank you we will better be prepared when a situation arises where we need to draw upon these skills.

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