Two weeks back, whilst I was at my yoga studio for my yoga class, a lady stomps her feet on my mat whilst I was cleaning my mat with a disinfectant tissue. Her behavior infuriated me and worse still, she did not bother apologizing.
This is something that happens so often at the yoga studio. There are days when I ignore and wipe my mat again or fold the mat in the area that is likely to be trodden by others. There are other days when I am silently agonizing and wondering why are people not courteous?
There are yet other days when I share my frustration with my friends, family at home or with my neighbor in the next mat if he or she expresses the same frustration….
My dad was hospitalized 10 days back and one of the Resident Medical Officer, who was the doctor on duty, whilst my dad was getting discharged two days back handed over the list of medications to my sister and I. She showed an utter lack of interest and care and did not even bother to check if the list of medicines given matched the medications that were handed over to us. The printout of the list of medicines that she gave us was illegible and not clear. When we asked her to clarify she was rude and retorted that everything was clear…..
You probably have similar experiences on a day-to-day basis in the form of somebody pushing you on the road to get a bus or cross the road and not apologizing, somebody behaving rudely to you though you are not the cause of it or some others behaving indifferently and with apathy to their responsibility, some others yelling at you and yet you see yourself not say anything or reacting. The fact is all of us probably react but do not often say anything loudly.
There are days when you can brush it off and not allow that to ruin the rest of your day and there are other days when this affects you and you say nothing. Yet it affects who you are, your focus and the way you behave thereafter.
You must be wondering why did I not tell the lady at the yoga class on her face not to do so or retort back at the RMO in the hospital.
There is a thin line between being assertive yet factual and on the other hand allow your emotions to take over you and in that emotional state sound aggressive or defensive.
Telling someone on their face is easier said than done because you come from a place of fear, in that you dread the consequences of the other person’s reaction. And yet, at other times, it is a conscious decision to be silent.
So do you continue to feel powerless and allow yourself to sulk in your own emotions of anger, frustration, irritation and thereby suffer the consequences? NO.
How do you articulate yourself in an assertive way and say what you have to say?
1.Think Before You Speak
This helps us to gain control over our emotions and not be in a reactive mode. If we open our mouth as soon as we feel a reaction to what is happening, the result may not be equal to the desired outcome.
When you are ready to speak, start from the evidence and point out to what happened without getting your emotions or feelings in it or your opinion in it. This helps to stick to facts and not get your view point in it.
If keeping your calm is more important in terms of achieving your desired outcome of the work that is currently being done or something to follow, then do so. Ask yourself, is expressing my dissatisfaction going to help you or is letting go better?
If you are a person who feels good venting out your frustration, do so. Surprised? Venting out how you feel loudly to another person eases your emotion and helps you to move forward. Vent out about how you feel and do not pass any comments on the character of the person who behaved in a manner that did not please you.
Sometimes, it is best to let go. Take necessary precautions where applicable and in other cases, just tell yourself that may be that person has had a bad day and forget about it. Having an emotional anchor helps you to move forward and not burden your shoulders with ill-feelings.
Be clear on why you are saying what you are saying. When you speak, watch your tone and use words like “Please”, “Since”. Logic helps you to make a firm request and yet keep the communication lines open and not lead to misunderstandings. You may not be able to necessarily please the other party but what you can achieve is being assertive yet polite.
Asking relevant questions is a good way to clarify things. With the RMO at the hospital, we asked questions to clarify our doubts. Sharing your perspective and understanding the other person’s perspective helps to ease out the situation.
Sometimes with all this, you may still not be able to achieve what you desire and the only way to keep yourself emotionally calm is to let go and tell yourself, that there are far more important things to focus on. Silence helps sometimes and at other times it does not. You have to be the best judge, depending on the situation and what you want to achieve.
Uncertainty, confusion and fear of the situation opens it up for interpretation and yet keeping an emotionally calm mind and framing the reality or reframing our interpretation allows us to express in a way that helps us to connect with others.
We live in the world of communication and thus the way we express ourself in terms of what we say and how we say matters. If you want to improve your self-confidence, communication and people skills, please consult me for one-on-one coaching, group coaching, facilitation or training.