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Share any tips or ideas that you have which make living with dyspraxia easier.(Please start a new thread for each tip)
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Learning to say no

Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:54 am

The last time I was with my CPN she gave me a booklet on developing assertiveness skills. I did quite a bit of work on this with my therapist when I was still at university, which really helped, but I still have a lot of progress to make in this area.

I have never had any trouble with expressing my opinions or maintaining my stance on things that are important to me. I know that some people who struggle with assertiveness have a tendency to keep silent or even pretend to agree if they are with a group of people who are saying or doing things that make them uncomfortable. I will always speak out or walk away in such a circumstance. My specific problem is with saying no to people, especially if they are asking for my help.

A few weeks ago I bought a £400 cello because I couldn't bring myself to say no to the shopkeeper. I had gone into the shop to see if I could rent one, and I came out with a cello case strapped to my back. After I have paid my rent and my bills, I have about £400 to live on for the month, so it wasn't a clever purchase. I have already memorised some stock answers that I can give to pushy shopkeepers in that situation, and I have agreed to go shopping with a friend if I'm looking for something 'big', so it is unlikely to happen again. What I need to learn how to do is to refuse to give help if I'm unable to provide it, and this is something that inevitably makes me feel upset and anxious, especially as it has gone badly when I have done it before. Does anybody have any strategies to share?

Re: Learning to say no

Thu Sep 24, 2009 12:24 pm

I found these tips on assertive behaviour online. They're based on office work but the majority of them are relevant to situations like these. I particularly found the ones about saying 'I' rather than 'we' quite useful. I guess there's also a big difference between saying 'I want' and 'I would prefer'. Putting things as a statement rather than as a request makes the urgency of the situation clear to someone. 'I cannot afford this item and will therefore not buy it', rather than 'I'm not sure I can afford this.' Having worked in sales and charity fundraising the second will be met with an 'objection response'. For example if someone said to me 'I'm not sure I can afford to support a charity monthly' I would say 'I realise this is a sacrifice but I think it's a sacrifice worth making. It may seem like a lot of money but in reality this works out as less than £3 a week which in western terms is only the price of a pint of beer, where as where we as a charity work it can provide x amount of y for z amount of people!'. It's their job to make things seem appealing to you. Particluarly in sales, there is a big tendency towards having a response for everything. You need to match that or take your custom elsewhere. Remember, if someone is pressurising you, you've no reason to feel rude for leaving the shop because realistically why would you want to give them your custom if they're that rude anyway?

Most of us know that assertiveness will get you further in life than being passive or aggressive. But few of us were actually taught how to be assertive. Here are some helpful tips.

1. Choose the right time. Imagine you're dashing down the hall on your way to a meeting. Lisa passes by. You call out, "Can you have the Microsoft project out by Tuesday?" Because you haven't scheduled a special time to bring up the issue, Lisa has no reason to think your request deserves high priority.

2. Choose the right place. Discuss important issues in a private, neutral location.

3. Be direct. For example, "Lisa, I would like you to work overtime on the Microsoft project." Whether or not Lisa likes your request, she respects you for your directness.

4. Say "I," not "we." Instead of saying, "We need the project by Tuesday," say, "I would like you to finish the project by Tuesday."

5. Be specific. Instead of, "Put a rush on the Microsoft project," say, "I would like the Microsoft project finished and on Joe's desk by 9:00 Tuesday morning."

6. Use body language to emphasize your words. "Lisa, I need that report Tuesday morning," is an assertive statement. But if you mumble this statement while staring at the floor, you undermine your message.

7. Confirm your request. Ask your staff to take notes at meetings. At the end of each meeting, ask your group to repeat back the specifics that were agreed upon. This minimizes miscommunication.

8. Stand up for yourself. Don't allow others to take advantage of you; insist on being treated fairly. Here are a few examples: "I was here first," "I'd like more coffee, please," "Excuse me, but I have another appointment," "Please turn down the radio," or "This steak is well done, but I asked for medium rare."

9. Learn to be friendly with people you would like to know better. Do not avoid people because you don't know what to say. Smile at people. Convey that you are happy to see them.

10. Express your opinions honestly. When you disagree with someone, do not pretend to agree. When you are asked to do something unreasonable, ask for an explanation.

11. Share your experiences and opinions. When you have done something worthwhile, let others know about it.

12. Learn to accept kind words. When someone compliments you, say, "Thank you."

13. Maintain eye contact when you are in a conversation.

14. Don't get personal. When expressing annoyance or criticism, comment on the person's behavior rather than attacking the person. For example: "Please don't talk to me that way," rather than, "What kind of jerk are you?"

15. Use "I" statements when commenting on another's behavior. For example: "When you cancel social arrangements at the last minute, it's extremely inconvenient and I feel really annoyed."

16. State what you want. If appropriate, ask for another behavior. ("I think we'd better sit down and try to figure out how we can make plans together and cut down on this kind of problem.")

17. Look for good examples. Pay attention to assertive people and model your behavior after theirs.

18. Start slowly. Express your assertiveness in low-anxiety situations at first; don't leap into a highly emotional situation until you have more confidence. Most people don't learn new skills overnight.

19. Reward yourself each time you push yourself to formulate an assertive response. Do this regardless of the response from the other person.

20. Don't put yourself down when you behave passively or aggressively. Instead, identify where you went off course and learn how to improve.

http://ezinearticles.com/?Assertive-Com ... ps&id=9407

Re: Learning to say no

Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:16 pm

Thanks for those tips, Spoon. I also struggle with this and those tips sound helpful.

Re: Learning to say no

Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:00 pm

I used to have assertiveness problems, but working as a freelancer has helped me resolve this in recent years. I've found that some clients will take advantage of me if I get too passive, so I've had to learn to say no to certain requests to protect my interests. For instance, I delivered what I said I would do in good faith for one client who shall remain nameless. Half of my fee was delivered up front, and the other half would be delivered upon "completion" of the project. This client then continually found new things to add/modify on the project, and if I had kept making adjustments the project would probably have lasted forever and would never be "completed". (basically, the client was trying to get free work out of me by finding new things to fix every time I completed the previous revisions even though I had delivered what was specified at the beginning) At the advice of one of my friends (who is an attorney/barrister) I terminated the contract and just walked away. I try to be accommodating, but I don't like it when people try to rip me off.

Re: Learning to say no

Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:39 pm

Thank you for the tips, El. The last three are especially helpful. I need to learn to have more patience with myself and accept that I can't resolve these problems overnight.

That last meeting with my CPN was like a revelation to me. (This made a pleasant change, as what she has to say is usually about as helpful as a chocolate fireguard.) I was describing how guilty and inadequate I feel whenever I have to say no to somebody who asks for help, particularly a close friend, and she pointed out that this may be because people simply take it for granted that I never say no. I've thought about it at length since then, and she's right. On the few occasions when I have said no to friends in need of help, they have become upset or even angry, as if I had no right to be refusing their requests. This is something that I need to challenge. The worst thing is that I believe it myself. If I'm tired, or otherwise unable to do something, I always interpret it as a personal flaw. It could never be that the request itself is unreasonable.

Re: Learning to say no

Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:45 pm

i know what you mea vicky, my friends used to rely on me lending them money till one day i had enough and said no and they got upset but it was the right thing to do for me.

Re: Learning to say no

Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:55 pm

I'm not very assertive. I have problems breaking of conversations or saying no to pepole.

Re: Learning to say no

Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:49 am

My inability to say no has just cost me £50. :(

Re: Learning to say no

Fri Oct 09, 2009 1:46 pm

Oh dear :( I hate it when that happens, Esther.

Re: Learning to say no

Fri Oct 09, 2009 4:10 pm

I've worked out how to get a refund. :)

Re: Learning to say no

Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:07 pm

Thirteen-thirty-seven wrote:I've worked out how to get a refund. :)

Glad to hear it :D

Re: Learning to say no

Fri Oct 09, 2009 9:21 pm

Alice wrote:
Thirteen-thirty-seven wrote:I've worked out how to get a refund. :)

Glad to hear it :D


Re: Learning to say no

Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:38 pm

I'm pleased you are going to get a refund Esther. :D £50 is a lot of money!

Re: Learning to say no

Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:26 pm

I had to say no today when a man asked me if I'd like to pay £3 to get a really tiny booklet. The £3 would have gone towars wheelchair users but I hate buying anything when I am stopped in the street.

Re: Learning to say no

Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:54 pm

What i remember is that i don't HAVE to provide and explanation, because i don't owe one! just say 'sorry but i can't'.

if a shop keeper is trying to get me to buy something and they're being pushy, i just say 'i can't buy it right now but i will think about it' and then they leave me alone, as they have got the message.

Sometimes we just have to say what we mean for the message to come across, if we don't do what we want then we will be unhappy.

remember you have every right to make a descision because you are a human and the other person has to at least expect that you might say 'no'.
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