This final post on assertion describes some common techniques than you can practice to become more assertive (these are adapted from Systematic Assertive Therapy book- When I Say No, I Feel Guilty by Manuel J. Smith)
1. Broken Record
Persistence is a fundamental theme in assertion and one can learn that from children- they would go on and on, and be persistent till the time they can get what they want. They are just like a Broken Record. The crucial point to practice in this technique is to first decide what you want to say, then ‘hear’ what is being said without getting emotionally involved and then go for the ‘Broken Record’. An example- an individual keeps coming and pestering his uncle for money, who keeps on obliging but feeling down and frustrated due to him not being assertive. With a decision that he would say ‘I can’t give you any more money’ and with practice of Broken Record in session, the next time the nephew comes to ask for more money, the uncle applies the technique and no matter what the nephew says, in a calm, relaxed, emotionally detached manner, the uncle keeps repeating the line he he decided. After a few repeats, the nephew got the message and stopped bothering the uncle with money again.
Manuel J Smith describes this technique beautifully in his book. Essentially, it involves dealing with criticisms by offering no defence to the critical comments and simply accepting the truth or possible truth in the critical statement. Just like a fog doesn’t offer any resistance to anything passing through it, similarly by applying the above, critical comments don’t become upsetting which is quite common in people who lack assertive skills (they tend to take things to heart easily).
3. Negative and Positive Assertion with Negative Enquiry
When dealing with close relationships, Positive assertion for compliments eg someone complimenting on the new hair style or any other personal attribute, practice asserting the complement positively- such as “I agree, I think the hair style looks good on me”.
And when there is a comment that critics someone, then without being sarcastic and getting emotionally detached, a negative assertion such as “yes, that’s very silly of me…or how dumb of me….” (you understand the idea here) helps in building confidence to accept that no one is perfect. It also lowers the chances of the other person to be critical.
Finally, Negative Enquiry deals with asking in detail about the negative comments or criticisms in a calm, relaxed and emotionally detached way. This helps in breaking down the person comments into more detail enabling them to reflect and explore their own issues of discord.
For more details, it may be worth having a look at the book itself and follow the workbook from the previous post. All the best.