I’m going to tell you something, but please don’t be offended. I am sure that what I want to convey to you is knowledge that will be valuable to you. I have studied it, verified it and it is a subject that I master. But I doubt its opportunity in these times; Either because it may seem trivial or because having heard about it you find it somewhat hackneyed. Deep down I fear losing your loyalty as a reader. Do you think it starts?
With such a letter of introduction, he will have already been on guard and suspected, almost without wanting to: “What roll are you going to tell me?” Most likely, he will turn the page to something else, a completely logical reaction that will make me lose the opportunity to convey what I want to him. What has gone wrong? My null assertiveness.
The starter of this article is a book example of how to express yourself without a hint of it. Is it relevant? In life, in general, yes. And in times of pandemic that occur, even more so. The rules of the social game have changed and the new normal forces us to train in this difficult art not suitable for insecure.
In short, assertiveness is nothing more than the ability to express one’s positions correctly and in a positive way without fear of contrary reactions. This, which may seem simple, it gets complicated in the current position. The continuous imposition of limits to which sanitary precautions oblige us and the feeling of uncertainty that floods everything are the two new factors that affect our relationships, whether they are personal – friendships, family and couples – or professionals. And both elements, limits and safety are basic in the practice of this aptitude.
«The rules that governed our way of relating to each other have changed: we have to keep our distance, not touch each other, expression is limited by masks and interactions with people we don’t live with should preferably take place in ventilated spaces or outdoors .. .”, remember Rachel Huéscar, general health psychologist. But it is not easy. «Why is it so difficult for us to adapt to the new rules? Or when these are said out loud, why do some people continue to insist on convincing the group in some way to do the opposite? ”, He reflects.
Is the order of the day. And at this point is when we need training. Perhaps you have to reject an invitation to a children’s birthday with ten children, no matter how much it is celebrated in a park or every afternoon you consider that your obligation is to go home and not stay with your co-workers, even though it is in a terrace. You have even been forced to remind that person to get away from you in the cafeteria line or ask your neighbor on the bus to put on the mask correctly.
«Responding or proposing assertively depends to a great extent, not only on our personal qualities, but on the firm belief and security that we have in our ideas or behaviors. If I am clear that I am not going to enter a closed space with a mask or with many people, it is easier for me to say it out loud. If instead I have doubts, in the end I do not see it as important and I minimize the risk “, reflects the aforementioned expert.
Safety seems to be at the center of the question. Hence, at this time it is more difficult to express one’s positions than in other contexts. Who doesn’t feel insecure sometimes now? Nobody doubts if he is going with the limits or just the opposite? «The uncertainty is such that our vital approach has changed in many cases. For example, everything is more short-term. Furthermore, this new situation further highlights the fact that before we had a ‘sense of security’, rather than security in itself “, adds Huéscar.
How to cope with this uncertainty is another lesson worthy of attention during the pandemic, as its dominance will lead to greater or lesser anguish and anxiety. This factor also explains why it costs to be assertive, now and always. It is never pleasant to say to the other “I don’t think like you” or to express something knowing that it does not go with the norm that the group imposes at that moment. «It usually gives rise to awkward situations that cause us to part ways in some way of the person in front of us ”, recalls Huéscar, who adds to some people who lack this quality, what ultimately fails them is their intimate fear of being rejected, of falling ill or feeling, ultimately, alone.
But trying to please in these times when personal, family and life safety are at stake should be rejected outright. “It does not usually work, since this is not necessarily what is going to get us to have a greater connection with that person,” recalls the psychologist. Many people they do not speak frankly because they cannot bear the emotional cost Which, you know, will take you. But it is time to overcome and order priorities.
Verbal and gesture training
Thus, once we know that insecurity and doubts about our own positions must be neutralized: how do we raise it? Luis Castellanos, philosopher and expert in communication and language and author of three books that delve into this matter (‘The science of positive language’, ‘Educate in positive language’ and ‘The language of happiness’, all three edited by Paidós), explains that in order to really practice assertiveness, one must “observe our language, both oral, written and gestural, to build good relationships even though sometimes we don’t know how to do it,” he acknowledges.
Make a curious parallel with these times to provide a lesson. «You have to do a PCR: with the ‘p’ of prepare with precision to choose the words well; with the ‘c’ of driveway to connect with our purpose and finally with the ‘r’ to do it from respect and recognition».
Thus, he argues that a certain preparation. “We can be direct, clear, concise and concrete if we have trained for it, we have prepared ourselves by taking care and choosing the words and gestures,” he says.
For this he does not hesitate to recommend even write the thought or draw (or imagine) the gestures. Let’s say, previously reflect on what we want to say. Of course, for cases where you don’t have to improvise. When this connects with what is felt from the heart, when it is vindicated and expressed with positive language and frankly, “with authenticity and being oneself”, it will hardly be possible to make a mistake, believes Castellanos.
And there is no fear negative reactions or rejection. If found, the philosopher recommends silence, containment and, above all, self-control. «Silence is the first access to a calm mind that prevents the response we receive in the form of anger from piercing my serenity. Better not die from the mouth. The answer to noise is peace and serenity, “he advises.
Sometimes it is easy to mistake an assertive approach for an aggressive or brusque one. “Everything can be said with a word of respect for the other”, contributes the psychologist Raquel Huéscar for her part. This acquires special relevance in the professional field, where you have to learn not to get emotional. “Must maintain certain privacy limits that do not expose us too much in front of peers. Although it should not be understood as a hostile environment, it is important to take certain precautions that help us differentiate who can be trusted, “he advises.
At home, especially with children, this positive way of communicating is essential to convey consistency and security. “Losing the fear of setting limits and saying no when something like this seems to us” – advises the psychologist – is a basic learning of parenting that, in addition, helps everything to flow in family relationships. Now it’s time to take this lesson for a walk.
- GOOD – Your attitude makes me nervous.
Very common example in couple relationships. When something does not work, it is not the same to verbalize “you make me nervous” than to expose the situation to the other person: “when you do or say … I get nervous.” In the first case, the other person is held responsible, however, in the second we explain to the other what causes a specific reaction in us. They are the nuances that differentiate an assertive way of expressing oneself and another that is not. Our message can be received in a totally different way and be effective in one case and not in the other.
- BAD – Can I tell you something without getting upset?
Assertiveness involves developing the ability to express one’s feelings (whether positive or negative) effectively without disregarding others, but also without denying oneself or feeling ashamed. When we introduce a position with this phrase we presuppose fear of anger and we doubt the validity of our position. It gives rise to a defeatist way of expressing themselves, with a lack of confidence. If the goal is to avoid conflict at all costs, it’s easy to feel manipulated or, in the end, not be taken into account.
- GOOD – I see that you want to cheer me up but I don’t want to go out for drinks, I really appreciate it.
Experts call this formula the ‘sandwich technique’. For example, reject an invitation (rather than negative) with two positive phrases: one at the beginning and one at the end. An assertive way of communicating also has to do with the search for positive coincidences with the interlocutor. If you do not want to go to that meeting because it seems risky, it is good to recognize the positive intention and the coincidence with the other: ‘it will be fun, but …’; ‘You know I love it, but’ …
- BAD – If you don’t wear the mask, you will never meet again.
It is clear, but this is not being assertive. In this type of tax phrases in which the limit of aggressiveness, however calm we say, has already been crossed. Assertiveness and aggressiveness when expressing positions are very often confused. In this case, the intention is to impose a circumstance through a direct order, a gesture of domination. It is not spoken from the personal position, but from the imposition. The most common is that we only get the other resentment and that, finally, it moves away.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.