9. Don’t be an ‘are you sure?’

The human mind is an inventive critter, adept at finding ways to undermine itself. Here is another way to be a citizen of Wimp City.

Bill: ‘Do you mind if I sit here?’
Jane: That’s fine.
Bill: ‘Are you sure?’

Bill: ‘Would you like a second helping?’
Jane: ‘No thank you.’
Bill: ‘Are you sure?’

In the first instance, Bill is afraid of being a burden to Jane. In the second, Bill is concerned Jane does not want to burden him. Either way, Bill has a ‘burden’ issue which will undermine him in other aspects of his life.

Although Bill’s intention is to appear polite and concerned, he appears weak. An assertive person would accept the person’s decision.

When we immediately accept a person’s decision we give them respect. We assume their decisions mean something. Giving them that credit increases the connection we have with them.

In this book we can’t solve Bill’s ‘burden issue, but we can learn from him: we can get ourselves out of the habit of asking, ‘Are you sure?’

Q. ‘Let’s say Bill immediately accepts Jane’s decision to not have a second helping. What if Jane was being polite, and was hoping to be asked again?’
Jane would soon learn to ensure her first answer was an honest one. She might be disconcerted initially, but she would soon understand that she was dealing with a competent communicator, and adapt her behaviour accordingly.

Q. ‘I worry about being a burden to others. How do I resolve it?’
That’s outside this book’s realm. But a step towards resolving that issue is to answer the following  difficult questions:
1. How different would life be if you didn’t feel like a burden? In what way would your life change?
2. Is it possible that you might feel like a burden, but not actually be one?
3. What would need to change for you to not feel like a burden?
4. A baby defecates in its nappy every few hours. It cries, does no housework, pays no rent, and yet is not considered a burden by its parents. Does that suggest anything to you?
  Does it suggest that to be a burden you must first have someone consider you to be one?
  In turn, does that not indicate that only another person can make you a burden?
  And does that not indicate that if that other person considers you to be a burden, that’s the way they have chosen to see you?
  Do you wish to be the person they choose you to be? Or will you instead be in their world on your terms?

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.

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’?

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.