A final way to improve relationships is assertiveness, which involves expressing what you need, what you would like to happen and your feelings without hurting other people’s feelings or yourself. Assertiveness is not aggression where people are actively being rude; nor is it being passive aggressive where people try to make others’ life unpleasant without admitting that they are doing so. This frustrates both parties.
Some people are fearful of speaking up because they confuse assertiveness with aggression. So they stay quiet and are unable to say “no” to the demands of others and end up feeling stressed.
Learning to become assertive can reduce your stress in relationship by learning to say “no”, making your own decisions and being able to change your mind and express your opinions and feelings.
Here are some steps:
- Notice how you feel about a situation
- Use “I” statements
- Be direct; state things clearly: “Let me get this clear… in other words you… so you felt that… what I hear you saying… so you believe that… am I hearing you correctly?” These statements are clear, prevent your words from being twisted and show self-confidence.
- Give the bottom line first instead of beating around the bush
- If your point is not being heard, try saying the same thing in different ways. If the other person won’t stop, try saying, “I’m sorry, but I have explained my decision and I need to stick to it.”
- Don’t assume you know what the other person is thinking
- Avoid being rude, sarcastic, labelling and “why”s
- Ask for feedback
- Practise saying no: “I’m afraid not… that won’t be possible… I’m not able to help this time.. I won’t be able to make that… that’s not going to be possible.”