Verbalize Your Needs: Assertiveness as Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter V post in the #AtoZChallenge. Okay, I already posted a V post and originally didn’t want to write another one for this challenge or at least not so soon after posting my earlier post. However, I had a topic in mind already. Today, I’m going to write about using assertiveness as self-care.

Assertiveness is nothing more than sticking up for yourself appropriately. It doesn’t mean aggressively dictating how others need to treat you. Like, I am always reminded of a scene in the first Adrian Mole book by Sue Townsend, in which he desccribes that his mother went to an assertiveness training for women only and started to rigidly divide all household chores evenly between his father, herself and Adrian. Well, that’s not how it works.

Assertiveness also doesn’t mean passively agreeing to everything someone else says even if you don’t. I have a tendency to do that and then to complain to other people about the person’s behavior. That’s passive-aggressive.

In order to resolve interpersonal disagreements, I like the DEAR MAN approach from dialectical behavior therapy. DEAR MAN stands for:

D: Describe. Describe the situation as objectively as you can in order to get on the same page with the other person about what you’re actually talking about.

E: Express. Tell the other person how you feel and what you think. Use “I” statements and take responsibility for your stance.

A: Assert. This is where you verbalize what you need or want or don’t want. Be as clear as you can be. Don’t expect the other person to know what you mean if you’re vague.

Remember, we all have different love languages (which apply to friendships and family relationships too). Say your partner’s main way of expressing love is through kind words, but you prefer physical touch. Then you will consistently feel disappointed if they keep saying “I love you” without touching you. State clearly that you want your partner to hug you more often. COVID-19 permitting, they’ll most likely be happy to do so.

R: Reinforce. This means to reward the other person for their behavior. Sounds weird, right? You know you are not dealing with a 5-year-old who gets candy for eating his veggies. Okay, sometimes you are, but in this post I’m mostly talking about relationships between equals. However, what I mean is simply to focus on the positive you want instead of the negative behavior the other is showing you. Often we tend to react negatively in times of conflict, such as by yelling or threatening or withholding our affection. I definitely do. Instead, express how the other person’s changing behavior makes you feel more appreciated, respected or loved.

M: Mindful. Be present and in the moment. Don’t bring up past grievances. I’m often guilty of bringing past stuff into conflicts.

A: Assertive. Stay calm, make eye contact (if possible), keep an even voice. Don’t shout or threaten. It’s okay to express emotions, but let your words express your needs or wants.

N: Negotiate. Once you’ve done all these previous steps, it’s time to let the other person express their reasons for possibly not changing. You need to listen to these mindfully. If you can’t negotiate or you come to an impasse, it may help to ask the other person how they would react if they were in your situation. If nothing else works, you can always agree to disagree.

7 thoughts on “Verbalize Your Needs: Assertiveness as Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

  1. I think a lot of equal relationships get and stay equal because of constant feedback and reinforcement. And they probably become more equal over time.

    I liked and appreciated your positive and present-minded approach.

    Oh, yes, Adrian Mole!

    “Like, I am always reminded of a scene in the first Adrian Mole book by Sue Townsend, in which he desccribes that his mother went to an assertiveness training for women only and started to rigidly divide all household chores evenly between his father, herself and Adrian. Well, that’s not how it works.”

    I seem to remember Adrian did a lot of work in the house and John Mole not so very much. And wasn’t the grandmother involved as well?

    I see this a lot in the nonviolent communication world. And I see Frederique mentioned this form/approach as well. Wow.

    And I think to myself – 30% sensitivity is good enough.

    What if Pauline Mole had taken a more Aristolean approach/appraisal of her circumstances?

    “Let your words express your needs and wants”.

    One example of how negotiation is important came through to me around the death of prime legalist Joan Dwyer who was a very savvy negotiator especially when it came to those with severe communication impairment which became a big part of her work in the 1990s.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is an important lesson. Great post.

    I hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.