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  • Writer's pictureEmma Coyle

"I try to avoid conflict wherever possible"

Does that sound like a statement you might make?

Have you ever wondered whether your need to constantly please others might be to the detriment of your happiness and be holding you back?

Can you learn to be more assertive and less passive? Yes, absolutely you can.

1) Plan your conversation you want to have - visualise and imagine how it might be.

2) Identify exactly how your passivity undermines you and holds you back from being as assertive as you would like e.g:

Do you constantly apologise for things you haven't done?

Do you find it difficult to get straight to the point when there is a problem?

Do you try to end difficult conversations as quickly as you can because you find them awkward?

Imagine this scenario:

It's Saturday. It's been a busy week and you fancy a quiet night in by yourself. Your friend phones and says that she really needs a night out and she needs you by her side. You explain that you don't really feel like going out but she 'guilt trips' you and makes you feel like a rubbish friend if you don't go. You agree because you like to avoid conflict and don't want to upset your friend. A familiar feeling?

What do you do?

Visualise yourself taking a deep breath Don't let the frustration overwhelm you Responding assertively that you already planned a night in

Your friend should be able to respect this and not keep pushing you to change your mind

This new assertive way of being can be applied to almost any situation as follows:

- Decide the outcome you want from the conversation

- Don't expect to be perfectly listened to, understood, and agreed with. The other person is allowed to feel what they want to feel, as are you.

- Maybe their reaction won't be what you hoped for, but know that's OK too. They may react badly to you being more assertive (they have got used to you being a certain way and they may struggle with accepting you have changed)

- Don't let one person's negative reaction put you off becoming more assertive in future scenarios

Do whatever works best for YOU so that you can start feeling more confident in being assertive.

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