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You get what you give: how your relationships will benefit from being more assertive
June 7, 2018
| An article by: Cassie Jordan, Relationship Guru
Have you ever heard the expression “behaviour breeds behaviour”? This is one of my most used and favourite expressions. Why? Because it is true, that’s why.
What does it mean?
Essentially, it means that the behaviour and actions that you put out there influences those around you. So if you are always happy and smiley when you meet people, then chances are people will be happy and smiley with you. If you are grumpy, well, your bad mood may just get you into one or two disagreements as people will respond negatively to your grumpiness, particularity if you are being snappy or rude alongside your grumpy demeanour.
So how does this link to being more assertive in your relationships?
Quite simply, this applies not only to your wider circle, but to your closest and most intimate relationships too. If you are struggling in your relationship and don’t know how to resolve the problems and the tension – then a good place to start is to focus on your own behaviour. Another favourite saying of mine is that “you can’t change people but you can influence them”.
I suppose in some respects this can be linked to positive reinforcement. For dog lovers out there, and indeed for parents, this concept will be familiar when trying to deal with unwanted behaviour in pets and children. (Just to point out, I do not put pets above children, it is simply that I am a poochy-mamma and don’t have children – so I tend to think of dogs first.)
So how does this influence relationships?
If your other half seems to be in a permanent bad mood, always snapping, shouting and generally being unpleasant towards you, it is a natural reaction to snap back. The problem with this, is that you then create a cycle of negativity. If you are not ready to give up on your relationship, and you want your partner to be nicer to you and to treat you the way you deserve to be treated, then you can choose not to react to poor behaviour. You can also choose not to accept the behaviour, and remove yourself from the situation. I often coach my clients to make a simple and clear statement such as:
“I am not happy with the way you spoke to me. As you seem to be in a bad mood, I am going to leave you to it for now. If you want to talk to me when you are in a better mood, then just let me know”.
The case study below illustrates how effective this technique is.
“J” came to me upset about her relationship. Her partner had ended it, and although they reconciled within a few weeks things were not good between them, and “J” herself was considering walking away.
I asked “J” to focus on her own confidence levels and assertiveness rather than her partner’s behaviour. Using statements similar to the one above, whenever her partner treated her badly, she would simply let him know she was unhappy with his behaviour calmly, and go home. This happened a number of times over the next 3 or 4 weeks and there did not seem, initially, to be any improvement.
“J” then shared with me that things were getting better and her partner was being much nicer to her. He was asking to come over to her place instead of her always having to go to his, and he was much nicer to be around.
“J” is still unsure what the future holds for them, but at least now communication is more positive between them she can make a decision based on the relationship as a whole, rather than reacting to negative behaviour.
Giving out what you want to receive back
Sometimes it is worth riding the storm and holding onto a relationship, and by making sure that we do not react negatively, we do not feed into the cycle of tit for tat and one-up-man-ship.
My client was able to positively influence her partner by not buying into his negative behaviour. It took a little time, but within a few weeks she began to notice that her partner’s behaviour towards her improved. As always, relationships are fluid and it remains a work in progress – as indeed are all relationships for every of us.
The other positive benefit for “J” is that I see her blossoming before my very eyes, into a more confident and assertive person. She asks for what she needs, and she says no when she needs to.
Underpinning these changes is a growing self esteem that had been seriously lacking for “J” in her past.
If you would like to work on your own self esteem, confidence and assertiveness, then take a look at these soundbite short online courses (click on the links below) .
If you have a specific question, you can also reach out to The Relationship Guru on our Facebook page @RelationshipGuru1 and check out our brand new group where you can get the latest updates and special offers. Click the link to join the group Relationship Guru Haven.