Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Assertion is the art of saying what you need or believe in a way that other people can hear you clearly. When you have family conflicts, this ability is essential for effective problem-solving.
Otherwise, you will do something like: submit yourself to the unjust situation, or try to "win" over the other side. Neither of them are good alternatives, because someone will lose. Having a family member lose sends the message that this person is sub-par, not worthy of rightful treatment, and breeds contempt and revenge for the future.
Also, it is important that you develop a sense of your personal rights as a dignified person; and firmly believe that your rights, needs, and dignity are just as valid and important as anyone else's, regardless of age, power, role, or gender. Everybody's rights need to be respected.
Want to know a bit more about assertion? This is the way to assert yourself:
a) Be clear about what is irritating you. If someone in the family is using your things without permission, or not replacing them, then there is the possibility that you are getting angry.
What is the behavior that you want, instead of this? Be clear on what you want: respect? a dialogue about your needs?
You need to define a change that you need from someone, and/or to set limits with someone who's behavior is unacceptable or hurtful to you.
Begin describing the negative behavior in clear words:
"When you take my best dress and wear it to a party without my permission, as you did last night..."
Then declare the impact (or damage the behavior caused you) on you:
"I feel that you ignore my needs; I was planning to use that dress, and had to go with an old one to my date."
Now, say what you expect from this person:
"I need you to (agree to make a specific behavior change): "don't use my things without my permission."
Your purpose is not to blame, or to start a new dispute, but to deliver information about the impact of their behavior on you.
The way you present yourself: as a conscious person knowing what she wants from the other, is what causes the corrective impact.
Messages centered on the "I" pro noun, delivered calmly, with steady, non-apologetic eye contact - have a better chance of being received as information, and not criticism.
Setting limits to abusive behavior in a family is the best way to prevent conflicts....and being assertive is the language you need to use frequently. Want to know more? To manage relationships better