Communicating our needs and wants can be extremely difficult, especially if the we need to express something to someone that they may not like to hear. Sometimes others actions can really hurt us but we don't feel comfortable enough to express to them how we truly feel so we bottle things up and it just ends up hurting us instead.
When we do that, we put the others persons feelings ahead of our own and although it might sound like the nice thing to do, the message we are sending to ourselves and to the other person is "you matter more than me" and " Your needs are more important that mine." Additionally, when we don't assert ourselves the other person has no way of knowing that we don't like what they did or said and therefore we can't expected them to change their behavior.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, "what if I say something that hurts their feelings" or "what if It comes off the wrong way?" or "What if they think I am being selfish?" and these are all valid worries however, if you follow these tips you will come off assertive, yet respectful, and nice so let's dive right in.
My first tip is: Remind yourself that your needs and wants are important and are just as important as anyone else's and as long as you communicate respectfully, it's okay to say what you need or want. We don't want to be disrespectful but who said expressing our needs is disrespectful?
My second tip is: Practice eye contact a nice steady tone of voice. Mind your tone of voice, avoid blaming or shaming the other person - This can be difficult sometimes but practice makes better so practice in a mirror with a parent, a friend, or someone you trust, and role play what you will say using your confident body language.
My third tip is: Express your thoughts and feelings clearly. Instead of "You're so mean to me when other people are around" you can try "I felt really hurt when you said (insert action) in front of our other friends."
Make sure you use specific examples if you're communicating about something that bothers you- Instead of using words like "always" or "never" such as "you never call me" or "you're always late" try using specific examples. Using specific examples helps the person understand what exactly it was that hurt you and can help them understand your needs and wants more clearly.
My fourth tip is: Plan what you are going to say. Know your needs and then write them down and even write down how you are going to say them. This will make it easier on you so you don't stumble on your words and you can make sure you remember everything. This will also help you ensure that it sounds okay prior to going into the conversation.
My fifth tip is: It's okay to say "no" remember you can't always make people happy and if something doesn't sit well with you its okay to respectfully decline or agree to disagree. You don't need to explain yourself, you don't owe anyone an explanation if someone asks you to do something you don't want to do. you can simply say say "No thank you" or " I think I'm going to pass this time" or "I disagree with you but I respect your opinion."
I hope you find these useful and remember practice practice practiced and eventually you will become a natural!
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Micheline Maalouf, M.S. is the founder and owner of Serein Counseling, LLC in Orlando Florida. She specializes in working with individuals who are dealing with anxiety including: generalized anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Micheline is certified in mindfulness and incorporates these practiced into all her sessions with clients to ensure they achieve the best results. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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