Assertiveness Techniques used to set your boundaries.
Boundaries act as stop signs or borders you install to protect your energy, resources, time, and personal integrity. They make a clear statement that you are in charge of these things. Boundaries essentially define who you are. If you treasure yourself, it is important that you put good boundaries in place. You must be clear where you end and others begin.
Some boundaries are flexible like a fence with a gate. You may choose to let someone in when you are ready. Other boundaries are inflexible, as a fence with no gate. For instance, inappropriate touch would be something requiring an inflexible boundary.
Anxiety plays a part in how our boundaries function. If anxiety is high, we lose track of what our need is in face of the need of the other person with whom we want connection in order to feel safe or soothed. Thus we lose our sense of self due to anxiety reaching a level that is beyond tolerance. We then look to others as a way to spread the anxiety around or in an attempt to contain it.
Assertiveness helps you communicate with honesty, cultivate authentic relationships, better understand your own feelings and get your needs met. Assertiveness entails having a strong sense of self-worth and establishing healthy boundaries. One of the most important aspects of being verbally assertive is to be persistent about what you want/need WITHOUT getting angry, irritated, or loud.
1. BROKEN RECORD TECHNIQUE: This procedure is used to break the belief and habit pattern that makes what you say dependent upon what someone else says first. This old habit is based on our belief that when someone speaks to us, we should have an answer and should respond specifically to whatever the other person says.
- Keep saying what you want to say
- Ignore all side issues brought up by the other
- Use calm repetition
The purpose is to communicate repeatedly to the person we are asserting to. “I will not be put off. I can and will do this all day until the desired result is achieved.” Parents should know that children do this very well!
A workable compromise is okay if self-esteem in not relinquished.
2. FOGGING OR CLOUDING: This works well when dealing with negative criticism and also reduces frequency of criticism from others. It sets up psychological distance and boundary lines between you and the person you fog.
- “You people never get anything right!” Answer: “You seem quite frustrated, Let’s see how we can work this out.”
You do not respond to the critic’s statement that has the negative implication that you are incompetent, faulty, or guilty. You simply respond to the affect, which in this case is that he is angry.
3. NEGATIVE INQUIRY: Useful mostly with people with whom you are close. This allows you to distinguish between the truth that people tell you about yourself and the manipulative structure of right or wrong they try to impose on you.
You do not respond to the critic’s statements of wrongdoing with denial, defensiveness or counter-manipulate with criticism of them. You do break the manipulative cycle by actively promoting further criticism of you or prompt more information about the statements of wrongdoing in an unemotional, low-key manner.
- “I don’t understand what it is about my going fishing that is bad.” Purpose: This approach prompts the critic to examine his/her own structure of right and wrong.
- “How is it that you see me as being opinionated?”
- “You say that I do not appreciate you. Tell me some more so I might understand your concern.”
4. NEGATIVE ASSERTION: Acknowledgement- Hold the excused! – This allows you to look truthfully at your behavior and own your mistakes without justifying or defending yourself.
- “You are right, I was careless about locking up.”
This skill promotes self-acceptance and minimizes the critic’s anger and hostility. When there is no argument or defense offered there is nothing to push against. Therefore, the situation and emotions don’t escalate.
5. PUTTING THE BALL BACK IN THEIR COURT: This is an effective way of putting off inappropriate questions.
- “Why do you need to know?”
- “Why would you ask such a question?”
6. ASSERTING YOUR RIGHT NOT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION:
- “I do not feel comfortable answering that question.”
7. MOMENTARY DELAY:
- “That’s interesting. Let me think about that for a minute.”
- “I don’t quite understand, would you repeat that?”
8. TIME OUT:
- “I will have to think about my answer and bet back to you on that.”
- “Time out, I’m upset right now. I know I will be better able to deal with this tomorrow.”
- I think what we are talking about is important and I’d like to talk to you about it some more tomorrow.”
This is very affirming to the other person, yet it sets a limit on the conversation.
If the other person demands an answer you can say, “If you must have an answer now, the answer is “No.”
9. PROBING OR CLARIFYING: Useful when you cannot tell if the criticism is constructive or manipulative when you do not understand the criticism, or when you think you’re not getting the whole story. To do this pick out the part of the criticism the critic feels most strongly about.
- “What is it that bothers you about my…? (for instance, “about my work?”)
- “What is it that bothers you about me leaving the office at five each night?”
Keep probing in a non-defensive way until you are very clear on exactly what the criticism is. You can then thank the person for explaining the situation to you. You have not defended, nor have you plead guilty. You have heard the person out and gotten the critic very clear on what it is that bothers them.
McKay, Matthew, Davis, Martha, and Fanning, Patrick, Messages.
Bower, Gordon and Bower, Sharon, Asserting Yourself.