Change is only 50 minutes away! Find out everything you need to know about developing your assertiveness with this straightforward guide.
Virtually all of us have struggled with assertiveness at one point or another, and the prospect of standing up for ourselves at work, in relationships or even in our families can be daunting. Fortunately, with a little practice we can hone our communication skills to ensure that our needs are respected, learn to express our needs and beliefs without fear and reach compromises that satisfy everyone involved.
In just 50 minutes you will be able to:
• Understand why you are struggling to assert yourself
• Eliminate the negative thoughts that are undermining your self-esteem
• Communicate clearly and effectively in any situation
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STAND UP FOR YOURSELF AND COMMUNICATE MORE EFFECTIVELYProblem: a lack of assertiveness is difficult to live with, as it is both a consequence and a source of anxiety, resulting in a vicious circle. It causes physical tension, avoidant behaviour, inertia, aggression, concentration problems and depression, all of which are exacerbated by lowered self-esteem. In extreme cases, it can lead to social phobia, meaning that the victim completely avoids all social contact.Aim: to understand why you are struggling to assert yourself and find solutions to the problem.FAQs:Could I have problems with assertiveness without being aware of them?Why should I learn to be more assertive when it could make my life more complicated and less comfortable?Does assertiveness inevitably lead to confrontation?Does assertiveness mean taking up space that rightfully belongs to other people?Why should I persevere in the face of failure?What kinds of thoughts reinforce a lack of assertiveness?How can I be assertive without coming across as aggressive?
Anyone who struggles to express their personality and opinions will be able to relate to the sense of discouragement, powerlessness and isolation that this brings. No matter our background, level of education and personal history, most of us will have found it difficult to stand up to a friend, a parent, a partner or a manager at some point in our lives.
Confronting this problem head-on and accepting that you experience it is the first step towards overcoming it. This is a liberating prospect: asserting yourself will enable you to banish your fears, most of which are irrational anyway, shake off the oppressive burden of anxiety and improve your self-image. Conversely, doing everything you can to avoid being noticed or bothering others signifies a lack of respect for your own needs, emotions and feelings.
This guide features a host of tips and simple methods that will enable anyone to increase their assertiveness, and in doing so to treat themselves with more respect and communicate more effectively with others.
Before we discuss how you can increase your assertiveness, it is worth asking why it matters, what the main obstacles to assertiveness are and exactly what it involves.
To be assertive you need to pay attention to your thoughts and needs so that you can express them clearly while still respecting the other person’s needs. Assertiveness is based on dialogue and the peaceful resolution of opposing points of view, as well as displaying self-confidence and being aware of your own limitations.
When we lack assertiveness, we tend to be too afraid to say no, ask for what we want or risk bothering other people, and struggle to express disagreement or respond to criticism.
These problems are so widespread that a range of behavioural treatments have emerged over the past few decades, starting in the USA. Assertiveness therapy is often carried out in groups and uses role playing and other simple techniques to teach participants to act in accordance with their true selves, deal with embarrassing everyday situations, and defend and express their feelings, needs and opinions effectively. The point of role playing is to force the person to confront situations that they avoid in their everyday lives, and in doing so introduce them to new mental and emotional experiences.
As we can see, assertiveness is more than a behaviour, and cannot be reduced to a series of tips and tricks; rather, it is a life-changing asset, as it will transform our self-image for the better.
Assertiveness is not…Being aggressive. Aggressive behaviour means not listening to other people (or only listening to them if they agree with you!), forcing your point of view onto others or putting your own needs before other people’s. As we will see later on, aggression is not an effective way of increasing your self-confidence and wellbeing; rather, it is an instinctive response designed to conceal your own weaknesses.Being manipulative. Manipulative behaviour differs from aggressive behaviour in that it is outwardly polite. It involves only taking your own needs and interests into account, using other people to get what you want, twisting the facts, using flattery and even outright lying.Being passive. Passive behaviour means not expressing your own needs, not standing up for your rights and repressing your feelings and emotions. If we are passive, we position ourselves as inferior to other people and allow them to manipulate us.
We are not always aware of our own struggles with assertiveness, no doubt because we prefer not to dwell on the less positive aspects of our personality. Moreover, once we have got into the habit of not standing up for ourselves, it may not even occur to us to try and change our ways.
Letting other people walk all over us at work happens all too frequently, as Carol’s experience attests:
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