Assertiveness

How To Be Assertive With Strangers

I was on my way to music class this morning and the peak hour train was a little more crowded than usual. As I headed downstairs to find a seat, I came across a couple of men occupying two opposite-facing three-person bench seats. I wasn't keen on standing for a half hour while two guys occupied six seats, so I politely said "Excuse me" to the guy on the aisle end of backward-facing seat, and he kindly moved over to the window to accommodate me. As I sat in the newly vacant aisle seat, I felt constrained by the man sitting in the middle of the bench seat opposite me. He was sitting forward with his legs spread wide in the classic genital display pose that male primates evolved to demonstrate dominance to other lesser primates. So wide in fact that his left leg and knee were taking up at least a third of the legroom in my own individual seat. His behavior may have been unintentional and unconscious; but it didn't feel good to have my newly acquired space dominated by another man's knee. [caption id="attachment_3160" align="alignright" width="300"] Assertiveness Makes a Man Feel Strong[/caption] I'm working on getting over my fear of conflict with strangers, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to be assertive with one who was overstepping my boundaries; albeit boundaries that I had just stepped into by requesting the seat. I made eye contact with the spread-eagled man and politely asked: "Would you mind moving your leg over a little please?" He kept his leg in place and said something that I didn't hear due to my noise-cancelling headphones. I removed them so I could hear his objection and replied: "I'm sorry?" (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

How To Stop People Pleasing And Start Facing Conflict

I recently got this email about the problem of people-pleasing and avoiding conflict:

Yo!

I read ur article about fear of conflict and laughed hysterically. Ure fkn brave man! I like ur eastern take on things too where ure aware and u breathe n things. I recognize me being a people-pleaser too and I'm shitless afraid confronting people and coming into conflict. How do i go about it? Do I just do it? How do i do it if the other part is childish and runs from u like a scared little bitch? I want to please everyone but inside i know i HAVE to come into conflict cus i cant escape it. I have to let others know when they're being retarded. I focus too much about making others happy n i cant see em sad. Is this wrong? I think its good to be this compassionate and nice but the more i read up on it somethings telling me this kind of people pleasing is bad for u and ur future. and others?"!?!?! But isn't that another layer I'm adding to it? Stopping people pleasing to please others even further?!?! SO FUCKED UP. WHATS THE POINT OF LIVING WITHOUT VALIDATION and ATTENTION OUTSIDE YOU. FUUUCK. SEEELF IMAGE WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT. WHATS THE PURPOSE of FKN LIFE?!?!

I hear your anger and frustration. This sounds like a classic example of how obsessive people-pleasing and avoidance of conflict undermines your sense of self to the point where your life seems meaningless without external validation. Here's how to fix it: [caption id="attachment_3014" align="alignright" width="300"] Obsessive people pleasing and avoidance of conflict will eventually crush you.[/caption] At the core of people-pleasing behavior is anxiety, most likely anxiety about being abandoned or unloved. My guess is that you're afraid that you won't survive physically or emotionally without the approval of people around you. The way to tackle this fear is to stop seeking other people's approval, build a life that is meaningful for you even without external validation and discover that you not only survive; you thrive. The big irony here is that the less you seek other people's approval, the more likable you will become to most people in the long run. That sounds great in theory, but the only way to really discover it for yourself is to take the journey yourself; and since the biggest impediment to doing this is the anxiety, that's what I'm going to focus on. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

How Power Postures Give You Greater Self-Confidence

I recently came across a great TED talk by social scientist Amy Cuddy titled Your body language shapes who you are. Her research shows that simply adopting a power posture for two minutes can increase your testosterone, reduce your stress hormone cortisol and make you more powerful in social situations... all of which translates into greater self-confidence. She goes on to describe how to overcome the feeling of being a fraud not just by faking it until you make it, but by faking it until your become it. From now on, I'm walking around my unit with my arms in a power pose. I don't care what the neighbors think! Check it out: (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

Overcoming The Fear Of Being Assertive With Strangers

I want to share with you a recent victory I had over the fear of being assertive with strangers, and why it's so significant for me. A few days ago I was sitting on a bench seat in a popular park down by the beach near where I live, reading a book written by my father about his early life. After a few minutes another man walked up and asked “Do you mind if I sit here?”, gesturing to the other end of the seat. “No, that's fine”, I smiled and said before returning to my book. [caption id="attachment_2886" align="alignright" width="300"]Would you like to be more confident about being assertive with strangers? Would you like to be more confident about being assertive with strangers?[/caption] The beach in question is a popular tourist destination and attracts a lot of backpackers from all around the world. This guy looked like he might be one, and appeared to be by himself. While reading my book I started to feel a little guilty for ignoring him, as I imagined him being a lonely backpacker in a foreign land seeking someone to talk to. In reality I wasn't “ignoring him”; I was just reading my book which is what I wanted to do. But my old caretaker conditioning of putting other people's needs before my own was kicking in. I reminded myself that most likely he was perfectly capable of looking after himself and that I was free to choose to speak to him or to read my book. I chose to continue reading my book. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

How To Turn Your Anger Into Assertiveness

I've noticed a consistent pattern among myself and my coaching clients: we all have a history of not standing up for ourselves when other people behave in ways that we don't feel good to us. Most of us had parents who weren't willing or able to teach us how to deal with our emotions, to self-soothe our nervous system when we were in distress, or to stand up for ourselves when our emotional or physical boundaries were being violated. Often the person we most needed to stand up to was one or both of our parents themselves, and that rarely goes well when you're a distressed child trying to stand up to an adult who is being unreasonable because their wounded inner child is running the show. [caption id="attachment_2812" align="alignright" width="300"]Turn Your Anger Into Assertiveness Turn Your Anger Into Assertiveness[/caption] All of this is a recipe for ever-increasing anger, resentment and frustration. We end up overcompensating in a desperate attempt to get our needs met. Internalise that toxic cocktail and it's no wonder we end up anxious, depressed and lacking self-confidence. Behavior patterns learned as a child tend to stick even if they never really worked well, and coping strategies learned as a child rarely work well in the adult world. If nobody shows us a better way, we tend to continue behaving in ways that increase our internal store of resentment and frustration long into adulthood with no way of releasing the emotional pressure cooker. After a while we end up bitter and resentful towards a hostile world that just won't seem to give us what we need or want. (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

How To Recover From Childhood Bullying

I was bullied mercilessly at my all boys high school. Turning up to Year 8 English class was a routine nightmare: Often one boy in the class would stake out the door waiting for the teacher while another group would hoist me up on top of a high cupboard against my will. As the teacher arrived, the scout at the door would give the signal for everyone to return to their desks so that at the precise moment that the teacher walked into the room everything looked normal in the class; except that Graham was up on top of the cupboard. The teacher was too stupid to work out what was going on, and I'd end up getting sent to the principal for more even punishment. Childhood bullying is insidious because it can leave long-lasting scars on your mental psyche. This is a critical time of development of our brains, and if your experience of childhood or adolescence is one of powerlessness and victimization, it can program deep unconscious patterns into our minds that set us up for debilitating anxiety and depression later in life. [caption id="attachment_2793" align="alignnone" width="640"]Childhood bullying can affect you long into your adult life. Childhood bullying can leave mental scars that affect you long into your adult life.[/caption] Fortunately though we can recover. There's enough neural plasticity in our brains to undo the damage that bullying does, provided we're willing to face the emotions that we were forced to suppress when the bullying occurred. Here's how to recover from childhood bullying: (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

How To Deal With Angry Women

I get my fair share of hate mail on the Internet, which I find unpleasant but not entirely surprising. Many people aren't good at expressing their anger cleanly, and some of them choose to channel it into hate mail directed at me. Being on the receiving end of somebody else's hostility can be stressful, so it's important to be assertive with these people to stop their stress from entering our emotional boundary. [caption id="attachment_2716" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Use assertiveness to stop other people's anger entering your emotional boundary. Use assertiveness to stop other people's anger entering your emotional boundary.[/caption] He's an example from a few weeks ago: I got an email from a female ex-friend who I initially met through a blog I run, which began: (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago
Assertiveness

Learn To Say "No"

Hey, it's Graham here again and today I want to teach you about learning to say no. This is a basic assertiveness skill that a lot of guys like myself who are recovering nice guys tend to struggle with. It's the whole being able to say no when other people request things of us that we don't really want to do. Often we've had a lifetime where we've been taught that the nice thing to do is to say yes to people, to help people out, to be the nice guy, to give other people what they want, and sometimes we take it too far and we end up doing things for other people at our own expense. http://youtu.be/vEdjKoaItX0 (more…)

By Graham Stoney, ago