During my assertiveness training day I have various catch-phrases, or mantras, and I hope that people will pick up on at least one of them and keep it in mind when they are dealing with difficult situations.
Here is a list of all of the ones that I personally use (with brief explanations)
“Nobody can push me into the ‘not OK’ box”
We all have a tendency to move from being OK about ourselves to being not OK, and if you are not OK about yourself then you will find it more difficult to interact productively with others. Being OK doesn’t mean “better than the other person” – just OK with yourself. And other people will sometimes try to push you into the not OK box, when they try to make you feel guilty or accuse you of being selfish when you are standing up for yourself and your own rights. Or if you’ve made a mistake, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. And it’s not up to anyone else to decide whether you are a good person, it’s up to you.
“We teach people how to treat us”
If you let people treat you badly they will keep on doing it. And even in small cases, for example the boss who can’t delegate or who solves people’s problems for them, will be brought more and more problems to solve. So if you keep on being treated badly, especially if it’s by more than one person, then ask yourself if there is something you are doing to encourage them.
“It’s never too late to go back”
If you are taken by surprise, maybe by a verbal attack or perhaps a request for something, and you give in, and you are kicking yourself afterwards thining “I should never agreed to that” or “I should never have let him get away with that” or “I know what I should have said, if only I’d been a bit quicker” then remember, you can always go back and say “I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier, and I’m not happy with it / I’m going to change my mind etc”. It’s great to know that you have as long as you need in order to think of a suitable reply.
“I am responsible”
I learned this one from a Brian Tracy tape, where he said that failure to take responsibility is the root of every negative emotion. Yes, EVERY single one! It’s the root of anger, jealousy, fear, regret, hatred, guilt, self-pity, laziness, worry, blame, etc etc. Now this is a bit of a big one for a subsection of a tip, but incredibly it does seem to be true. So if you regularly think “I am responsible for this situation” then it might help reduce the amount of negative emotions in your life – and that’s a result!
“He’s probably got psychosexual problems”
I learned this from my friend John Andrewes, and I love it. Probably a bad idea to say out loud to someone, but if you quietly think it then it really takes the sting out of someone who is being aggressive or competitive or nasty. And the grain of truth within the joke is that it’s THEIR personal issues which are causing their aggressive behaviour, and it’s probably nothing to do with you personally. Also, it encourages you to be detached, and to see the trivial nature of most disputes. Thanks John!
“I don’t have to justify how I feel”
I joke that I regret teaching my wife this one, but the truth is that I think everyone should use this phrase. If you don’t want to do something and you are being pressure with “But why not??” then this can be a good response. You are entitled to your feelings, and that’s an end to it.
So there we are – I hope at least one of these will improve your life ever so slightly! And talking of improving your life, did I mention my 5 year productivity coaching-by-email programme? Everything you need to know, gradually drip-fed to you week by week, month by month. Details here.
Onwards and upwards!