How To Be More Assertive: Part 5
"Being Direct" is a straightforward technique. When you want something, ask for it and get straight to the point. Eg:
"I'd like someone to drive me to the airport this afternoon. Would you be able to do that'"
And when you answer such a request, be direct as well:
"No, I'm taking this afternoon off to play golf".
Benefits and Drawbacks
Being direct is, for most everyday matters, the best way to interact. It has a number of benefits, including:
- It saves time
- Misunderstandings are reduced
- It enables genuine negotiation to take place
- You get more easily and quickly to a win-win solution
- Other people don't have to second-guess what you are thinking
If you are not direct, it can lead to several problems, such as:
- Things don't go the way you would like them to
- You feel resentful as a result
- Other people stop asking you
- They may not say it, but other people don't trust your honesty
There are some false beliefs about being direct, such as:
- You will upset other people
- You will appear selfish or arrogant
- You will inconvenience other people by asking
- You will not be liked
All these beliefs are false, and in fact the converse is often true, because when you are not direct, you:
- frustrate other people by not saying what you want
- deny others the opportunity to help you, which they would like, by not asking
- appear insecure and oversensitive
- inconvenience people because they have to spend time working out how not to offend you.
A Simple Example
Suppose you receive an invitation to a party, but already have other plans and you believe the other person will be offended if you decline.
Option 1 is to say "Thank you for the invitation. Unfortunately, I already have another commitment, so I can't come." The other person will accept this and think none the less of you.
Option 2 is to think the person may be offended by a refusal. So, you think you have to give a really good reason to show how you would like to go but are unable to do so. So, you say: "I'd really love to come, but John and Mary don't get out much. I've offered to babysit. I suppose I could try to find someone else, but I'm not sure I could find anyone at this short notice. I could talk to them and find out what time they are going, and see if I could drop in for a short time....", etc.. If you keep up this type of self-justification for much longer, the person who asked you will be wishing they hadn't (and they might avoid doing so in future).
Being direct is a much better option than not. Being direct is being honest and showing integrity.
- Don't apologise profusely.
- Don't beat around the bush, as it frustrates the other person
- Keep it short (making long-winded excuses can cause confusion)
- If appropriate give a reason for your request, but don't make it a long-winded self-justification
- Don't dress up your requests with flattery, which can come across as manipulation and make it more difficult for the person to refuse
- Don't take a refusal personally
When is it best to be direct'
When might being direct be inappropriate'
How To Be More Assertive:
Part 6: Expressing Disagreement Constructively