By Lianne Smuts – Tea Time with Lianne
“Tammy, your organizational skills are brilliant. Will you please help with the fundraiser?”
You say yes. It is, after all, the right thing to do.
A week later. “Tammy, there is nobody to wrap the gifts. Can I bring it to you, please?”
You sigh silently, and say yes again. You are busy, you have no idea how to fit this into your schedule, but if there is nobody to help, how else will the gifts get wrapped?
Three days later. “Tammy, we have nominated you to open up the venue on the morning of the fundraising event. You are always punctual, and we can count on you.”
You don’t get a chance to answer. Your mind screams NO, but your heart feels guilty. And again you give in, bursting with frustration, and a whole lot of other pent-up emotions. Why is it always you? Why is there never anybody else? Why can’t you just say NO?
Because, you don’t want to hurt feelings and cause upset.
Does it sound familiar? Let me guess. Your kind, serving heart has become a burden. Your unselfish nature of putting others first, became personal punishment. You are so taken advantage of. If only you could assert yourself, and if only saying NO was easy!
It is definitely time to adopt an assertive mindset!
Assertiveness is not only a way of expressing yourself, a communication style – it is a mindset! A mindset of allowing yourself to acknowledge and express your rights, opinions, and desires without denying or offending that of others. It is a mindset that understands that you may have likes and dislikes, but so are others allowed to have likes and dislikes too, which do not have to be the same as yours. It is not about who is right and who is wrong; it is understanding that we are all different, and we are allowed to agree to disagree. The power of assertiveness, however, is in the confidence with which you express your mind, and expressing it in such a way that the other person will not feel offended.
It is therefore not what you say, but how you say it. Here is a simple formula for assertive sentences:
1) Use I, me, we sentences… (do not point a ‘you’ finger at someone)
2) Address the issue, behaviour, or situation at hand, not the person
3) Allow a response
This simple formula can be applied to any kind of communication, e.g.
Request: May I please go home earlier?
Opinion: I do not agree with the new company policy.
Frustration: I do not like it when you come late for my meetings.
Anger: I am VERY disappointed that you came late for my meeting again!
The emotion that you experience will come across in your tone of voice. Anger will sound much firmer and louder than frustration, but there is no need to be aggressive or offensive when you communicate your anger. And yes, assertiveness does not mean that you may not get angry. The secret again, is in the how you communicate it.
Now the very same assertive formula is applied to saying ‘No’. There is, however, an important secret: start your sentence with your answer.
“Tammy, you need to wrap the gifts for us.”
“No, I won’t be able to fit it into my schedule.”
“Tammy, you are the only punctual one amongst us, so you are volunteered to open the venue.”
“I am unable to be at the hall so early.”
And if you add a caring tone of voice, you will not sound rude at all.
Note, that no excuses or explanations are added. NO sentences are short and to the point. And if the other person does not want to accept your NO answer, or requires an explanation, you respond like a dripping tap. You repeat your NO sentence over and over, in a calm manner.
“So why can’t you make time for wrapping the gifts?”
“I repeat, I won’t be able to fit it into my schedule.”
“I am sure you can take some time at night.”
“No, I am really not able to fit it in.”
Do not get yourself tied up in explanations and excuses that will force you to eventually say yes.
And may I just add that NO is an ordinary word in the dictionary which is there to be used. It is NOT a swear word. It does NOT mean rejection. And it is by NO means rude or wrong to use it.
If, however, we value ourselves and our time, and realise that we deserve what we give to others, it becomes easier to say NO. If we do not look after ourselves first, we will not be ok for those who really need our love and energy.
Now ladies, let’s get practising the assertive NO’s, because practise makes perfect.
Lianne is a Neurozone Practitioner who focuses on the Emotional Well-being of women. Learn more about her here