Galway Advertiser 2008/GA_2008_02_21/GA_2102_E1_020.pdf 

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Galway Advertiser 2008/GA_2008_02_21/GA_2102_E1_020.pdf

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Galway Advertiser

February 21 2008









Do you quake in your shoes at the thought of complaining about shoddy service, speaking up at a parents' council meeting or telling your mother-in-law that she cannot stay over next weekend? When asked to work late do you usually say "yes" even though you do not want to? Are you always doing favours for others too, accepting unwanted invitations and generally being the "nice" one who never says "no"? If so, you are at grave risk of becoming a pushover or doormat and it may be time you brushed up on your assertiveness skils and learned how to stand up for yourself. Most of us could use a little more assertiveness in our lives. Many have been conditioned over the years to be submissive and "nice" and not to cause any ripples. As a result we are often dependent on others for approval, distrust our emotions and hide or belittle our abilities. But always taking a back seat or doing things for a quiet life can be a pathway to misery and unfulfilment. The timid tend to get stuck with the grotty jobs, not get paid what they deserve and be trampled on by others. They minimise their own importance and needs. * Remember, your feelings of discontent are valid. So, if you do not fancy going for a drink with colleagues say "no" nicely but firmly * When saying "no" or turning down a request maintain direct eye contact, ensure your facial expression agrees with your message and keep a level tone of voice * Respect the other person but clearly state your case * Be direct when you express your wants or feelings * Give yourself time. Like any other challenging skill, it takes time to stop being a pushover * Remember there is no need to be aggressive or abrupt if you choose to say "no" * When refusing people use their name, it helps to soften the blow! * Do not feel you have to give a reason for turning someone down. Say something like "It's really nice of you to ask me. Unfortunately, I'm not available." You don't have to give details. * There is no need to feel guilty for saying "no". Say it in a way that expresses respect and courtesy and leave the door open for good relations. You will earn more respect for not being a wimp * If someone is persistent and refuses to take "no" for an answer, such as an over zealous charity fundraiser, repeat your message maybe in a slightly different way, ie "As I mentioned I donate to charities that help older people only)" * When you say "no", mean it. Avoid wishy washy responses, such as "I might be there if I can". Stick to your guns and put the request out of your mind. Do not feel guilty afterwards * Think before you speak. It is easy to walk into situations and find yourself agreeing to unreasonable requests * The risk associated with never saying "no" is that others may take you for granted * Sometimes turning down a request is unavoidable. * If someone close to you regularly asks you to do favours for them and you do not like to refuse remind them they owe you one. For example, they might babysit for you one night * If you always tend to agree to requests or favours from other people, ask yourself why. Often we do things

There is no easy way of saying no.

Pushover pressure

Tips to avoid being a pushover
* Behaviour is learned so you can choose to unlearn limiting or defeating behaviour at any time * Do not confuse assertion with aggression or manipulation. Being assertive means standing up for your rights without violating the rights of others * Take small steps at first. Start putting your own needs before others. That way, you will not end up tired and overstretched * Act as if you are feeling confident and assertive even if you are not. You will convince others and maybe even yourself! * Practice saying "no". Do not feel you have to justify not going to a party or inviting your family to dinner on Sundays. By standing up for yourself you will feel less stressed and burdened * Try to be clear and direct and keep repeating your message until it is heard * Self awareness is an important tool. Monitor your reactions to stressful or worrying situations and you will notice if you react in a passive or aggressive manner

to make or keep people happy and on our side. However, this is not always beneficial * Remember saying "yes" often can lead to more and more requests for your time * Express your wants, ideas or feelings directly * It is important to stand up for yourself. Being passive allows frustration to mount as your needs may not be met. While conflict may be avoided problems continue to build * Deal with situations as they arise unless you need to cool down before discussing things * Phrasing your refusal in a positive way can avoid hurt feelings. Say something like, "That's a great offer but I'm not in a position to take advantage of it at the moment" * Don't rush in. If you tend to make a mess of trying to say "no".

Remember you rarely have to give a "yes" or "no" answer on the spot. If you are unsure of turning something or someone down, ask for time to think about it. If nothing else, this will give you a chance to come up with a good excuse! * Try to make the message as clear and simple as possible. Keep repeating the phase and don't let the other person deflect you by changing the point at issue. Set yourself simple goals at first so you will meet with early success. Start by saying "no" to annoying ticket sellers or door-to-door salespeople. When you've perfected your assertiveness skills, it will be easier to say "no" to family and friends, work colleagues, etc * You have a right to say "no" and to stand up for yourself. Many of us have been conditioned since childhood to seek approval and may feel scared at the thought of letting someone down or rejecting an invitation. By being clear and direct, you will feel and cope better

* There is no easy way of saying no. At times, the best and most painless approach may be simply saying it and getting it over as quickly as possible. This will prevent misunderstandings * Sometimes, people won't ask you outright for a favour. They will go about it in a roundabout way, hinting until you act. If you usually get caught out this way, avoid it in future by not forcing the moment. Wait for them to come clean. Don't leap in. Be sympathetic but firm. Say "I'm sorry you've got that problem", then stop. Don't offer your services unless you want to * Learning how to say "no" is a valuable skill but remember you do not have to be assertive all the time. If you don't feel able to cope with the consequences of a particular stance, remember you can choose to say nothing. However, it is important to be able to exercise your choice on some issues. Choice boosts your sense of empowerment and self-esteem.

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 Galway Advertiser 2008 / GA_2008_02_21