communication

Stop the bus and leave drama at the next stop! Part Three

When we deal with the drama triangle assertively we often reap countless benefits. We are able to not only refuse disrespectful treatment from others but are also able to remain respectful towards others. In being assertive we can successfully avoid both the victim and prosecutor roles, taking ourselves completely out of the triangle. Once out of the drama triangle we can then engage in more assertive communication, promoting adult exchanges which are both respectful and honest.

 

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Stop the bus and leave drama at the next stop! Part Two

To avoid the vicious drama triangle we can use assertiveness, leaving the rescuer, victim and prosecutor roles behind us. If assertiveness is unfamiliar territory for you then fear not, the basic principles of assertive behaviour are very straight forward. When being assertive there are four key points to address:

 

  1. Acknowledge what has been said. E.g. use statements like ‘I understand’ and ‘I understand what you have said’. 
  2. State the facts about the situation using non-biased language. E.g. ‘It was a gift from everyone’. 
  3. State the impact the situation has had on you, avoiding divisive words like ‘really’, ‘very’ or ‘you’. E.g. I found your statement hurtful and offensive’. 
  4. State what future action you would like to be taken. E.g. ‘I would appreciate it if you could refrain from saying statements like that to me in future’. 

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Stop the bus and leave drama at the next stop! Part One

Recently I found myself in the middle of drama with one of my good friends. The experience was all consuming, one minute I was crying and the next I was angry. During this gut-wrenching conflict I couldn’t eat, I frequently cried myself to sleep and everything in my life seemed to stop. I even stopped training for my 5k run for charity (thankfully I managed to complete the race, albeit with a lot of huffing and puffing). This went on for around a month. What surprised me most was how the situation gained momentum and spiralled out of control so quickly. With no exaggeration, the impact of this conflict was devastating. As I had learned, when we are in conflict with those around us the toll on our lives can be profound. Loss of appetite, acute stress, sleep disturbance and depression can all result from intense conflict. If I was ever to escape this drama and all the stress it had caused me, I knew I had to get off the bus at the next stop.

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Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say No; Part Three

Like any new skill, it takes time to develop the ability to say no. Keep in mind that any failed attempts are still worthwhile and contribute towards good experience and practise. Remember to be patient with yourself. It will be unfamiliar territory at first and may even be scary but if you are persistent it will become easier with time.

 

An excellent way to improve your confidence in this area is to note down the details of every time you successfully say no in your first month. When the month is finished look back on all of your successes. Reward yourself by going out for a meal or watching a film at the cinema. Every time you have a setback read through this list again. Looking over your success stories in this way will serve not only to boost your confidence, but also give you the resolve to keep going.

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Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say No; Part Two

 

When we continually say yes to other peoples requests we are like a house that has left its door unlocked. It invites intruders in to our lives to lay even more demands on us. In learning to say no to the burglars of both our time and energy they may continue to try and intrude but they will soon realise a new alarm system has been installed and leave to find someone else who has left their house vulnerable.

 

Essentially, when we say yes to others we also say no to ourselves. Every yes requires time and energy which could otherwise be spent on our objectives, goals and dreams. The next time someone approaches you with a request, take a few moments to realistically assess if you have both the time and energy to fulfil what they are asking of you. In honestly answering these two fundamental questions, you will know when it is wise to say no. When you say no you may think you are being selfish however by saying no you are simply practising self-care and learning to value yourself and your time.

 

Of course saying the word no can seem to many of us as abrupt and harsh, but there are many ways to soften the blow if we feel uncomfortable.

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Sick of over-extending yourself? Learn how to say No; Part One

It is Saturday afternoon and you have just finished cleaning the house, preparing lunch for the family, have finished off your report due first thing Monday morning and are sewing on a button to your sons football shirt, after which you need to start studying for your business diploma. As you prick yourself on the needle your other half then pops their head through the door and asks you to go to the shops with a long list they have prepared. You don’t have nearly enough time but you smile and say ‘Sure.’ Does this sound familiar?

 

All too often we struggle to say no when we are completely stretched and cannot really afford to say yes. If we say no we may feel we are letting others down and might even feel we are less likable or less recognised in the workplace as a result. In contemporary culture we are taking on more roles, often having a full-time career as well as being the main care taker of the home and family. With so many roles to contend with we can easily fall into the superwoman, or superman trap, feeling that we should be able to manage everything at once. When being a parent, partner, full-time worker and student is normal, how do we learn to judge what is, and is not, reasonable to take on?

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Assertiveness: A journey worth taking; Part Four

 

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Although being assertive may appear all quite challenging at first, the benefits of open, honest communication are enormous and well worth the effort. When we learn to behave and communicate in an assertive way we immediately feel empowered and more in control. Most importantly we safeguard ourselves against the aggressive and passive aggressive games others play. After we have practiced assertiveness for a while our self-worth and self-respect improves, leading to greater levels of self-esteem and confidence. Practicing assertiveness then becomes more natural as it reflects the higher value we have placed on ourselves. Eventually this leads to a greater sense of personal freedom. Like anything, the more we practice, the easier it gets.

 

For most of us assertiveness does not come readily. Becoming assertive involves changing the way we normally react to people and this is a new experience for both us and those around us. When I first set out to be assertive I did not get it right all the time, in fact I got it wrong more than I got it right! I knew that if I wanted to become an assertive person I needed to be patient with myself. When we feel like we have tripped up it is important not to give up, after all we are undergoing what can be a massive adjustment.

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Assertiveness: A journey worth taking; Part Three

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This week we shall explore what to do when the person you are asserting yourself to persists in being either aggressive, passive aggressive or even by-passes your point altogether.

 

If the person you are speaking to takes the conversation off on a tangent and fails to respond to your remark, the broken record technique is very effective. When used correctly, with a calm and steady tone of voice, it helps the conversation to remain on point and maximizes the likelihood of the person responding to your comment. If this happens simply and calmly repeat your main point until the other person responds.

 

Negative assertion is a powerful assertiveness skill which can allow the person you are speaking with to feel heard and more validated. If the person criticizes you take time to honestly assess whether you agree with any of their points. If you do say so and explain what action you will take to avoid this behavior in future. For example, ‘I agree that at times my concentration is low and I shall endeavor to actively listen to you when you are explaining something to me in future’.

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Assertiveness: A journey worth taking; Part Two

 

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Last week we uncovered three boundaries relevant to us using the technique of self-reflection. In order for us to communicate our boundaries effectively we first need to become assertive. When we act assertively we protect our boundaries and prevent others from taking advantage of us. Generally those of us that are passive confuse assertiveness for aggression. In truth, there is a wide gap between assertive and aggressive behaviour. Aggressiveness violates others boundaries and, in contrast, assertiveness sets out to respect others boundaries whilst also protecting our own personal needs.

 

There are four essential points to assertive communication. The first is to acknowledge what the other person has said. This helps them feel understood and makes them more receptive to what you have to say. For example, you could start using statements like ‘I understand you think…’ or ‘ I understand you believe…’.

 

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Assertiveness: A journey worth taking; Part One

 

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The author Mandy Hale once said “It is necessary, and even vital, to set standards for your life and the people you allow in it.” This really resonated with me as there have been many times in the past I have allowed others to treat me badly in an attempt to be more likable. After taking assertiveness training I am relieved this is now less of an issue in my life, but I continue to learn every day. What struck me most about my training was how common this issue seems to be for so many, and just how deeply it can affect us. If others continually take advantage of us the cost can be devastating. It can lower our self-esteem and confidence and, in some severe cases, even lead to depression. But how others treat us often seems so beyond our control, after all, how can we change other people? Fortunately, the answer actually lies within us. More

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