These are classic phrases that are often used when asking for or expressing what we want in unclear or indirect ways.
But what is it exactly?
“It is a direct and clear communication. And it’s not aggressive. That is important. You don’t nullify, diminish, or belittle someone, but instead approach them with your needs as an equal.
“Also, it means that you need to take responsibility for what you want and be clear about it.“, clarifies the psychologist, and illustrates with an example.
“Imagine that someone has criticized you – nobody likes to be criticized – and has put a label on you: that you are very uncooperative, to name one.
“One option is to react very strongly and be defensive about everything, to attack the other person and find fault with them. So you would engage in a small battle.
“Or you could say, ‘I don’t really agree with him being uncooperative. It is too general. I’m interested in what you mean, but can you be more specific?’
“That’s just one example. You keep a conversation going instead of closing it.”
That does not mean that you put your feelings aside, he stresses.
Being aware of them “is a very important part, because if we don’t we tend to distort our body language or tone of voice, the way we look at someone.
“Those kinds of things communicate 3/4 of what we express, not just words.”
5cquick tips to improve your assertiveness
“It’s often difficult for us to say ‘no’ clearly at the time a request is made,” says Dickson.
“Instead of muttering something vague or agreeing to something you don’t want to do and then having to come up with an excuse, give yourself time.
“If you feel any hesitation when asked about something, say clearly, ‘I don’t know. I would like to have an hour (a day or a week) to think about it.’
That way, you have a better chance of crafting your response without the pressure of the moment.”
- acknowledge your feelings
“Learn to identify and follow a feeling (anxiety, discomfort, anger, pain) without censoring yourself.
“Acknowledging your feelings is an important first step in effective communication, because pretending not to feel something will weaken and distort what you want to say.
“After doing it, you can learn to put your feelings into words.”
- listen to what you say mind
“If your intuition tells you that you cannot trust a person or situation, that is your reality.
“Trust your inner voice instead of telling yourself that you should be rational or cling to a fantasy that you wish was real.”
- Don’t try to like me all the time
“The need for approval undermines our authority.
“Coming out of a situation with your self-respect intact will also build respect in others, which in many situations is more appropriate than everyone liking you all the time.
“Practice handling authority without aggression.
“When you clearly convey decisions or give instructions or criticism, a commitment to equality means giving the other person the space to express their response to what you say.”
- Wait until you have all the attention
“Never start talking to someone while they are looking at a screen, on the phone, reading a newspaper or talking to another person, in other words, when they are not paying attention to you.
“It takes practice and you will feel uncomfortable waiting. But if you start talking while someone’s attention is elsewhere, it sends a subtle message that what you’re saying isn’t worth listening to.”
A powerful tool
Dickson began working on the subject in the early 1980s, when many women lived in terror of being labeled domineering, mean, or annoying when they expressed what they wanted, whether it was a raise or help with housework.
Your book “A woman in your own right” (“A woman in her own right”) became a classic of feminist literature and has been printed several times since, with a new updated edition just released.
But, Will it still be a skill women need to learn now that they seem more confident?
“What is missing is still an understanding of how to deal with things when they happen,” he told the BBC.
“It’s one thing to feel safe on social media and promoting your image. But no matter your age, you are still facing a hereditary situation.
“Say, for example, you have a woman at the top of her profession, maybe she’s a very successful doctor. But when confronted with a male colleague or boss, she may feel intimidated, uncomfortable, not knowing what to say.
“Why? Because the man will never have had any doubt about his right to be on top, because he has centuries of tradition behind him.
“And a younger woman, even though she was raised with a much more egalitarian sense of genderyou can still come to a job and be dismissive or ask you to run errands instead of your job.
“One of the most empowering things is knowing how to deal with that situation.”