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Assertiveness is about being able to say no, having your boundaries and limits respected, getting your needs met and keeping yourself safe. It will help you achieve your goals.
Why do I say yes, when I really mean no?
Sometimes other people can seem intimidating, especially if you have had experience of them being abusive. We are afraid and to avoid conflict, we can comply with their wishes. We can also be afraid of people's rejection, especially if we are close to them and rely on them for emotional support. The message is "they won’t like me unless I do what they want." There may be a belief about yourself behind this, like - "I’m not worth knowing for who I am but for what I do for people!" In both cases there is a power imbalance in the relationship; assertiveness helps ensure a fair and respectful relationship.
Some common behaviours you will come across include:
NO is not a dirty word
Saying no to someone’s requests that conflict with your own needs and desires is honest. You have the right to say no, without feeling guilty.
Usually saying "no thank you" or "no I’m not interested" in a firm, polite manner should suffice. If someone persists, then simply repeat yourself without apology! If you want to give an explanation then you could-
Practice saying no over little things with safe people, and as your confidence increases so will your ability to say no to anyone!
How can I be assertive when I’m having all these strong feelings?
Strong feelings can arise when someone criticises you or acts aggressively. These feelings, such as anger or hurt, have lots of energy that can be used and expressed. The key is to use it not lose it. Anger arises when we think we are trapped or threatened, it’s a sort of fight or flight response. Some circumstances can trigger past anger that has nothing to do with them personally. So we need to take care with our anger as it can do damage if expressed abusively. For this reason some people are afraid of their anger, try to suppress it and then may experience a temper outburst over a minor matter. Its important to monitor your feelings, and withdraw from situations to keep yourself safe when you need to. You might say, "I am feeling too angry now to talk to you." Sometimes a few deep breaths will be enough, for you to compose yourself so you can express yourself effectively.
How should I respond to criticisms?
Criticism creates many barriers between people. It can be useful but is often seen negatively as 'moaning'. It is seldom given directly, is usually misinterpreted, and can be the tip of an iceberg of pent-up frustration. Also people often hear criticism where none is intended and react accordingly.
Listen carefully to what is said, decide how valid it is for you, choose your response. Options include:
How do I give constructive criticism?
Constructive criticism or feedback, is not motivated by a desire to hurt but to communicate and get your needs met
General Assertiveness tips
Where to from here?
If you would like to make an appointment to see a counsellor to learn more about this topic please contact the counselling service on your campus. Distance students can contact any on of the campuses.
Please tell the receptionist if you need an urgent appointment.
Albany: Health and Counselling Centre Monday to Friday 8.30 am - 5.00 pm. Ring (09) 443-9783.
Manawatu: Student Counselling Service, Turitea Campus, Monday to Friday 8.30 am - 5.00 pm. Ring (06) 350-5935.
Page authorised by Regional Registrars
Last updated on Tuesday 16 August 2016