In a previous blog, ‘Ten tips on Assertiveness’ I gave the background to the importance of being assertive rather than aggressive. The last point involved the assertiveness formula and I’m expanding on that concept here.
By learning this simple technique and practising it regularly, it can become your ‘default’ enabling you to hold conversations you may be avoiding. Thus you can improve your performance in your business, community and private lives. And this will help you to feel more effective and happier.
How often have you avoided a person because their behaviour annoys you? And how often do you talk with a person but avoid certain topics of conversation because these topics are emotionally charged (either for you or for the person you are speaking with)? And how often have said what you want to say… and had disastrous results?
When I am coaching executives, facilitating ‘leadership development’ or running ‘communication skills’ training workshops, I often identify the need for individuals to become more assertive. I show them the formula, they practice each day, (developing their ‘talk’ for different situations), and then apply where appropriate. The results have been outstanding. And it is so simple:
- When you……..(mention the other person’s behaviour)
- I feel…… (take responsibility for your emotions)
- because …….
- I would prefer you to………………
Here is an example:
I was highly irritated that my housekeeper seemed to use the noisy vacuum-cleaner whenever I was on the phone. So, I called her and politely said:
‘Sybil, when you use the vacuum cleaner in the passage and I’m on the phone,
I feel very embarrassed
because I can’t hear what the other person is saying.
I would prefer you to check whether I’m on the phone before switching the vacuum cleaner on.
Sybil was very apologetic as she hadn’t realised the noise bothered me. And now, before switching the vacuum-cleaner on, she always checks to see whether I’m on the phone.
Let’s go through each element of the formula and explore in more detail:
- When you……………This first statement enables you to identify the other person’s behaviour that triggers your response. That in itself is therapeutic.
- I feel…………………...You are recognising and taking responsibility for your own emotions. I find that participants in my workshops often automatically turn this statement around to ‘You make me feel…..’. So, it takes practice to stop blaming the other person. You need to take full responsibility for what you are feeling. (Nobody can challenge what you are feeling!)
- Because…….. Having to state the reason for your feelings helps you to identify the cause.
- I would prefer you to……..This focuses on the solution. Think about it! How do you want that person to modify their behaviour? The word ‘prefer’ takes your statement from a command to a statement of a preference.
By concentrating on the core of your message, you are ripping away the emotion. Standing and practising this enables you to develop a ‘posture of confidence’ which will help when you get into a ‘real’ situation’.
Use this formula regularly and you will get better results.