In the American television comedy called Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld’s neighbour, Kramer, doesn’t knock on Jerry’s door. He flings the door open and enters. Jerry doesn’t seem to mind.
It’s a common ruse in American situation comedies. Comedy writers want the story to unfold at a snappy pace. For a character to hear a doorbell and then answer the door would slow the action.
We accept that on a television show, but wouldn’t adopt that behaviour in our own lives – we expect courtesy. Besides, our front doors are locked.
Writers have created other shortcuts too: a quick, effective way to end a tense scene is for one character to leave by slamming the door behind them. Or, the character is on the phone, and abruptly hangs up on the other person.
Unfortunately, some viewers have adopted those techniques. Some people hurl their point of view at someone and then immediately leave, slamming the door behind them. Or, hang up on them.
Why? Do they think their dramatic flair will prove them right? Do they think they have won the argument because the other person cannot reply?
It’s a technique which deserves to remain in television. In real life we deserve better.
Running away is not a sign we have won the argument. How could it be? It’s childish. The key: don’t leave an argument in a dramatic flourish. Talk it through. (Of course, leave suddenly if you’re in danger of harm).
And when you do leave, do it respectfully. That’s being assertive.
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!
3. Show the person you understand their point of view.
When they realise you understand them, they pressure you less.
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.