assertiveness

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

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So now you know what to say it should be easy right? Well, you know what they say, when man makes plans, God laughs. Others may be resistant to the assertive changes within you so let’s discuss what we need to anticipate in those around us this week.

 

What To Expect When You Begin To Assertively Stand Up For Yourself

 

If you are new to assertively standing up for yourself, especially if you have resorted to being passive in the past, you need to anticipate a certain level of resistance from others who have previously taken for granted that they can put you down.

 

Although this makes the process of being assertive harder at first, stick with it – you will get stronger and more confident in asserting yourself if you persist. Remember, the perpetrator is expecting you to back down at the first hurdle and when you don’t you will send a very clear message that you are not going to tolerate being mistreated any longer.

 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that being assertive will be uncomfortable at first. Very uncomfortable even. You might feel anxious, afraid, angry or a mixture of all these emotions. Try your very best to remain calm externally. Your emotions will calm during assertive exchanges once you have more experience of asserting yourself. Be patient with the process, persist in asserting yourself consistently and have confidence that it will get easier.

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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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The Rough Seas of the Roles We Inhabit and How to Calm the Waters Part Four

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Life roles; how to have them serve and support you by bringing the subconscious or unspoken into the conscious and communicated

 

So how do you begin to shape your life roles so they serve and support you? The biggest way is to bring what is usually the subconscious or unspoken into the conscious and communicated. There are many approaches you could use to do this, but as it is an emotionally charged  topic it needs to be handled in a delicate and sensitive way using assertiveness, otherwise it could do more damage than good.

 

Remember, assertiveness is not about winning or getting your own way – it is about working together to find a mutually agreeable solution in such a way that it respects not only your rights but the rights of others.

 

Our rights

 

For a recap on our inherent rights take a look below:

 

“I have the right to state my own needs and set my own priorities as a person, independent from any roles that I may assume in my life.” This right recognizes our existence beyond the roles we inhabit (whether they be that of a husband, wife, mother or father) and accepts we have priorities beyond the realms of those roles. We are all, at our core, individuals and this right highlights we should be treated as such. In truth, to have priorities for ourselves outside of the roles we inhabit is healthy as it promotes a sense of autonomy and individuality.

 

“I have the right to be treated with respect as an intelligent, capable and equal human being.” This is one of our most basic rights and yet one that is violated all too often. Absolutely all of us deserve to be treated with respect.

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The Rough Seas of the Roles We Inhabit and How to Calm the Waters Part Three

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Life role expectations; how to avoid destruction and incompatibility

 

Your own subconscious expectations

 

One of the most subtle but debilitating ways our life roles can destroy us is by the subconscious emotional baggage that each of us carry, suddenly exposed when we take on new roles. I encountered this when in my previous marriage, but only recognized it as such in retrospect.

 

Has anyone ever told you that marriage changes everything? Well, this is what they are referring to, even though they may not be consciously aware of it. In truth, if you are an agnostic or atheist, marriage is just a piece of paper. However, beneath the surface often lies a psychological battle waiting to manifest itself once you sign on the dotted line. The good news? Once you are consciously aware of it, this battle loses all of its power over you, rendering it redundant.

 

The psychological battle and emotional baggage I am referring to? The subconscious expectations you place on yourself for each life role. Naturally you will have conscious expectations as to how the new role will play out however what I am speaking of goes much, much deeper.

 

In the case of marriage it originates from what your notion of a ‘good wife’ or ‘good husband’ is but it doesn’t stop there – the subconscious notions of what constitutes a good wife or husband stem from your parents, from how they modeled this role, to how happy their marriage was and even to how they spoke about it.

 

Indeed, the ways your parents modeled these roles to you have provided you with things you subconsciously believe to be a good wife or husband, or may have given you the belief that in order to be a good wife or husband you must avoid certain behaviors.  If neither of your parents were married, this might have subconsciously modeled indirect messages of what it means to be married, impacting how you see marriage itself.

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Has criticism got you anxious or stressed? How to get back to feeling fab

It’s natural to sometimes feel anxious or stressed when receiving criticism however we should never underestimate the impact anxiety and stress has on us. Both stress and anxiety can have far-reaching effects which can seep into almost all areas of our life, leaving us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

 

I always used to get confused between anxiety and stress but my therapist gave me an insightful way to distinguish between them. Whilst anxiety is invariably related to our perception of the future stress is a reaction to the present.

 

If you think you may be suffering with anxiety or if you often feel anxious when receiving criticism please read my article titled ‘Wars of the mind: How to effectively overcome anxiety’ which uses tried and true cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to help reduce and even overcome anxiety.

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Receiving Criticism in action: Evaluating Negative Assertion

How does imagining your agreement to part or all of what the person said make you feel? Does it leave you feeling awful about yourself or empowered because you have taken control of the conversation? Do you feel optimistic because you now have the opportunity to develop this aspect of your behavior for the better or do you feel overwhelmed? How do you imagine your agreeing with elements of the criticism would have impacted the conversation?

 

It’s worth bearing in mind that if agreeing with criticism leaves you feeling awful about yourself you may have an underlying self-esteem issue whereby you either feel any weakness translates into having less worth or where you cannot accept weaknesses because it is too threatening to your identity. If you feel awful when you recognize possessing a weakness please read my Tiny Buddha article on self-esteem titled ‘Learning to Love Yourself; 3 Steps to Instantly Boost Your Self-Esteem’.

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Receiving Criticism in action: Role Play Using Negative Assertion

Take time to role play how you would have worded your agreement to the person who delivered the criticism, what would you have said and how would you have said it? Think carefully about what body language you would have used, the volume of your voice, your tone and inflection as well as how you would word things in a diplomatic way.

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Receiving Criticism in action: Practicing Negative Assertion

Take your example of a time when someone criticized you and explore if there was anything you agreed with, even if it was just agreeing with the fact you could have spoken softer in the moment.

 

Although it’s often hard to recognize the part we have had to play in high conflict situations or in the areas we are criticized in, the truth is often not so black or white. If you are being criticized about a high conflict situation take the time to reflect as there is usually at least some way we have contributed to the conflict, whether it be in our tone of voice, the things we said or our actions.

 

If the criticism does not concern a high conflict situation it is still just as important to be reflective, trying to see things from the others perspective but taking care not to accept it without careful consideration (after all it may be malicious criticism). Try to be as honest as you can when thinking about whether the criticism you received in the example you chose last week was valid in any way and write down the elements of the criticism you agreed with, if any.

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

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we looked at asking questions to those that criticize us (negative inquiry). This week we explore how to agree with valid criticism, a technique called negative assertion.

 

The following steps are only relevant to situations where you believe the criticism not to be malicious put downs. Remember valid criticism can still be delivered in an accusatory way and that it is the content of what has been said – not the delivery – you need to focus on.

 

Be Honest with Yourself; Negative Assertion

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