People often persist in their claims because they assume we haven’t grasped the significance of what they’re saying. They are hoping the ‘penny will drop’ and we will suddenly understand what they are saying and agree with them.
Let them know you’ve heard them. When they realise you have understood their point of view, their passion for convincing you weakens.
‘I understand that you think that, but nevertheless . . .’
‘I can see you have a dilemma, but my answer is no.’
‘You’re saying that (explain their point of view), but no.’
‘I can see you feel hurt because . . .
When we show people we understand what they are saying, that we have been listening, they feel heard, and place less pressure upon us.
Ann: ‘You are so selfish for refusing to help me cheat!’
You: ‘I can see that you think I’m selfish, but my decision is final.’(Good. You have indicated that you understand her point of view, and re-established your position. You’re clinging to the mast.)
Ann: ‘You just think you’re better than everyone else.’
You: ‘I understand what you’re saying – you think I feel superior to other people – but I won’t be helping you cheat.’(Good.)
Ann: ‘Why won’t you help me?’
You: ‘Because it’s illegal, for a start.’ Incorrect. You are not obliged to give a reason. If you give a reason Ann will find fault with it. Try instead:
You: ‘That’s my decision.’(Good.)
Ann: ‘Your refusal to help cuts me.’
You: ‘I can see you feel hurt because I refuse to help you, and I’m sorry . . .’ Incorrect. Don’t say ‘sorry’ or ‘regret’, because you have done nothing wrong. Don’t embellish. Stick to your intent.
(Anyway, Ann might try to use your regret to pressure you.) Try instead:
You: ‘I understand that you feel hurt, but I won’t be helping you.’ (Good, you have acknowledged Ann’s distress but kept the focus on your refusal. You have clung to the mast.)
Example 2.You have just asked your boss, Len, for the day off.
Len: ‘No, you can’t take the day off to attend your child’s funeral. I need you here at work.’
You: ‘Manage without me . . .’ Incorrect. Don’t focus on Len’s problem. Acknowledge his view and focus on your intent. Try:
You: I realise you desperately need me, because (give the reason he gave) but I’m taking the day off.’
Some acknowledgement phrases:
‘I understand that you are inconvenienced, and my answer is no.’
‘I understand that you think that. Nevertheless . . .’
‘I can see you have a dilemma, and my answer is no.’
‘From what I gather, you believe . . . (paraphrase) . . . and my decision is final.’
‘You’re saying . . . (paraphrase) . . . Yes, I understand that. And I won’t do it.’
‘You feel hurt because . . . Yes, I can see that, and I have chosen to decline . . .’
‘You believe I shouldn’t . . .? Yes, I can see that, and I am still going to . . .’
Notice the use of the word ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ in the above examples. We can use ‘and’ to be emphatic.
Loretta: ‘It hurts me that you won’t let my dog stay at your place.’
Loretta: ‘I’ll have to spend my savings on a pet hotel.’
Loretta: ‘Don’t you understand that I have no one else I can ask?’
Loretta: ‘Do you realise just how selfish you’re being?’
Why do we need to be assertive? Find out why in ‘Don’t Live in Wimp City‘.
More assertiveness tips:
1. State what needs to happen from now on.
Don’t state the obvious. Focus on the future.
2. You are not obliged to give a reason.
We are taught to justify our decisions. Forget it!
4. Don’t run away.
Life isn’t like it is in the movies.
5. You don’t need to solve the other person’s problem.
If you do, there will be more pressure on you to be the solution.
6. You are not obligated to answer all questions.
Sometimes, people ask you questions to manipulate you.
7. Ensure your question is answered.
People are good at dodging questions, and most of the time they don’t realise it. Don’t let them get away with it.
8. Don’t be a citizen of Wimp City.
Are you a ‘sorry’?
9. Don’t be an ‘Are you sure?’.
Who is afraid of being a burden?
10. Don’t be a ‘Maybe’.
Have you ever said to a salesperson, “Maybe later?”
11. Get rid of the ums & ers.
Speak like you know what you are talking about.
12. Ask why.
Don’t waste your time trying to mind-read.
13. Ask for help.
That’s one good way to take responsibility for yourself.
14. Learn to say ‘no’.
We are taught to be compliant and co-operative. But that can be a problem.
15. Ask for something in return.
Favours are not tradeable commodities.
16. Accept compliments.
It’s a classy, assertive way to respond.