Communicate Better

It’s hard to experience fulfillment in a relationship which is not equal and reciprocal. The best way to avoid “giving yourself up” in a relationship is to develop some assertiveness skills. Learn how to express your feelings, beliefs, opinions, and needs openly and honestly. Here are some guidelines:

*When stating your feelings, use “I-statements.” Avoid accusatory or blaming “you-statements.” They almost always result in defensiveness and your partner stops listening to you. EX: “You should stop wearing…” (that’s all they heard before tuning you out)
Express the same thing as your opinion and they’ll listen. “I think the sweater you’re wearing looks stupid.” The listener might disagree with you, but at least they’re LISTENING!

*You have a right to have feelings and to make requests. State them directly and firmly and without apology.

*Acknowledge the other person’s point of view, but repeat your request as many times as necessary (until they acknowledge yours).

*Learn to say “no” to unreasonable requests. Offer a reason– not an excuse — if you choose, but your feelings are reason enough. Trust them.

Assertiveness is not about always getting your way. Nor is it about coercing or manipulating. Those are acts of aggression. An assertion does not violate another’s rights, and it does not preclude compromise. But a compromise, by definition, meets the needs of both people as much as possible. If your friend or lover is unwilling to compromise or has no respect for your feelings, maybe there’s not so much to lose.

Counseling Center, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1994.

Published by

Dr. Gnap

Dr. Gnap is a family practice physician and behavioral medicine specialist in suburban Chicago.  Dr. Gnap developed the Inner Control™ Program in 1970 and has worked with thousands of people to improve and correct medical, emotional, behavioral and learning problems including performance.  He started the Inner Control program because so many patients asked, “what more can be done along with traditional treatment methods?”

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