Thursday, 29 October 2009

Recognising the dirty tricks that trip you up!

I have just finished loading up a training sample on assertiveness to my LinkedIn page (that's free assertiveness training by the way). Having added a few tips in at the end I have decided to expand on these. Specifically for dealing effectively with what can put us off track when we are doing our level best to be assertive (and effective!). Without being specific, I have been tested many times, where asking for something to be done differently, and experienced the other person try at least some of these. I may even have used some myself in the dim and distant past! It wasn't pleasant, to be sure, but by being prepared and in recognising them as the strategies of more passive or aggressive people, we can rise above them and still achieve something constructive.

So what are the common dirty tricks played by others when we are trying to sort out a problem or just do our jobs?

Here are some of the more common ones:

- nagging (if I have to tell you one more time..)

- exaggerating (you're always / never ..)

- vague answers (this might be possible ..)

- blaming (it's your fault, if you hadn't..)

- unwanted advice (if I were you ..)

- undermining (you don't seem to be able to ..)

- boxing you in (well, what are you doing right now? Oh you're busy, well, in that case come to my place this evening ..)

- put-downs and insults (you're useless, what a loser, a hopeless case..)

The best and only way to handle these dirty tricks is to get really angry.. um no, that's not it! Don't get mad, get even and do the same back!! Not that either unfortunately. No, it's to confront it with logic. Here are some pretty good reality checkers to combat dirty tricks:

• Am I worse than others? (if so how much?)
• Is this the case all of the time? (if not, when?)
• Would most people agree with this? (who would disagree with this?)
• Is there evidence to the contrary? (what about times when ..)

Constantly striving to live up to your own or others' unattainable ideal will only make you feel inadequate, and get in the way of working towards your goals. Real success takes many forms and is never just about excelling at work, nor being the perfect parent, friend or lover. If, as a child, you were regularly criticised at home or at school, you may doubt your value as a human being and hold an exaggerated, overly negative perspective. Women in particular are vulnerable to a negative self-image because of media pressures on them to be perfect: have the perfect weight, perfect skin, perfect hair, career; be the perfect mother, cook, hostess, etc. It can be harder to recognise and deal with dirty tricks when you have been receiving them in one form or another for a long time!

If you recognise some of those dirty tricks as your own, then consider that this is far more an aggressive or passive, rather than assertive, style. It will likely wind up other people rather than build good relationships or get the job done. Kick start learning to think in more balanced ways by using these reality checkers on yourself and the assumptions that you make about others.

Constructive criticism is only useful when it aims to help you, not undermine you. To be constructive, it needs to be specific, rather than commenting about how you are in general. Recognise constructive criticism and use it to grow. Recognise dirty tricks and don't let them trip you up!

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