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Dialog

Adding assertiveness in relations

“He is obsessed with his own feelings.”

”How could people be so blind to other’s perspective?”

“But you should have understood it, it is so obvious.”

Does any of the above statements sound familiar? Similar to something said and heard. Allow me to answer this question for you. Most of us (most here being 98-99 %), are either saying it or hear it from people around us. The desire of being heard or our opinion being valued is our deep desire. This desire builds on from early in childhood. Irony of the situation is that we want people to understand and value our opinion without us saying it. We want people to hear the feelings that we never utter.

We feel that it is the best behavior to remain in control when it comes to expressing our desires or needs. “Behave properly and don’t embarrass us by asking for too many things”, this is a common parental advice we have received and also we give to our children. Being too expressive about our desires is labelled as being greedy or aggressive.

However, the point missed here is to understand the actual boundary when the ask is nice or when it becomes an aggression. We create 2 blocks of either ask or don’t ask. In this categorization we miss to notice something. And that missing component is the actual balance.

Assertiveness is the mean between the extremes of being non expressive and being aggressive.

As we continue to be repress our desires and feelings we tend to become

1. Resentful – No one understands me

2. Passive player – I did it because of others

3. Shed responsibility on others

4. Play victim card – I have no option

As the above pattern continues for longer time it either leads us to become permanent passive victims in our own lives or take aggression as the form of expression.

Both ways are an unhealthy way to indulge in relations. We keep waiting for people to understand what we expect and hence fulfil our desires. Close relations in life like marriages, parent-child relations usually have lot of sore points which are created as we shy away from being open to ask or deny the point clearly. We expect people to change their behaviors to suit our ideal benchmark without ever pointing to them, what we do not like.This leads to social blacklisting of people without knowing their perspective.

Gosh! This is really stressful. Rather than this wait and remorse pattern, we can practice assertiveness in our relations. Assertiveness in play may look something like

1. Not expecting people, even as close as your partner or parent to understand your feelings. Say it as clearly and as much in detail as you can.

2. Not trying to understand someone’s feeling without them putting it into words. We all feel we can read people’s mind but it is all a farce.

3. Speak from the responsibility zone, say wat you did or what you understood. 

Choose 

“I think you should have not discussed this point in public as it was something between us”

Rather than

“You are like this, you discuss such points in front of others to make me feel the guilt.”

4. Not feeling guilty about expressing your desires/needs/wants. Saying what we want does not make us offenders. At times it is even okay to try bit hard to persuade the other person.  In close relations we share the right to be open to the core with each other. At the worse, the things may not work out in our favor. However, there will be no assumptions and blame games saved for later.

5. Not over explaining your choices/opinions. Our desire to be seen as someone right and perfect leads us to explain our choices over and over. We want to prove that we made right choice. Alas! There is no one parameter to be won to reach the perfect position. Own and live your choices with confidence.

Becoming assertive is not an easy task. It requires us to come out of the want to be seen as a nice person. It requires us to focus more on ourselves than on people around us. However, practice makes us persistent and hence improves us.

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