Are you wondering how to speak up for yourself and get what you want? I get it. Asking for what you want is incredibly difficult, especially for women.
Tonight I have to have a difficult conversation with my boyfriend. I am dreading it. I am sitting here thinking about what to say and what he is going to say and how he could hate me, maybe even break up with me, by the end of it.
As a result, I am really questioning whether I should even bring it up at all or I should let my issue go, no matter how unhappy I am.
The life coach in me knows that while my hesitations and fears are real, there are many approaches that I can take that will allow us to have a successful conversation, one where I can stand up for myself and be more assertive so that I can be happy
What can I do to ensure that the conversation is productive and allows us both to walk away happy?
#1 – I won’t assume anything.
As I sit here thinking about what tonight is going to look like, I am visualizing all sorts of reactions from my boyfriend around what I am going to say. Some are calm, some are angry, some involve tears.
The worse scenarios are what I am most focused on, the things that I fear the most. That he will hate me or break up with me and be upset with me.
And they are all that I can think about. Almost more even than the content of the talk. I just don’t know what will happen and it worries me.
But I know that I have to let go of those projected outcomes. I have NO IDEA how he is going to react and to spend even one minute perseverating about what they might be is a complete waste of time.
So, I let have to let them go and accept that whatever happens will happen and that I can’t control the outcome by thinking about it ahead of time.
#2 – I will choose the right time and place.
When my kids were little and I had to discuss something difficult with them I always chose to do it in one of two places: in the car or on a walk.
I have found it very effective to have difficult conversations with someone when side by side instead of face to face. I think that perhaps it makes each participant a little less vulnerable and gives them a moment more to react to a statement. The eyes can say so much, sometimes quickly, which can cause the conversation to devolve in some way.
I also always chose a time that was not stressful. Tonight my boyfriend is coming over for dog therapy, pizza, and football. His top 3 things in this world. He will be happy and then we will begin. Softly.
By choosing a good time and place to talk, I am setting myself up to be more confident in what I want because I know that I will be more comfortable in the situation and more able to speak my truth.
#3 – I will not attack.
My goal in this conversation is to have an effective, difficult talk. One that lands on its mark, allows me to be assertive and has a satisfactory end result. To do this, it’s important not to attack.
My boyfriend is struggling with a few issues in our relationship. I will tell him that I have a feeling that he is struggling and that I would like to support him in any way.
What I will not say is “Why are you doing these stupid things over and over?”
I can guarantee that the only thing that will do is shut him down. And make him leave.
By talking about how you feel, vs how he is behaving, you can not only be clearer in your discussion, because really the only accurate perspective that you have is yours, and also you will prevent a quarrel because he can’t push back against your feelings in a way that he could push back against your accusations.
So talk about how you feel, not about the things he does. It will be way more effective. I promise!
#4 – I will listen.
This is so important. You need to be very careful to listen to what you are hearing back from the person with whom you are talking. Not only could you get some valuable information but, by letting them know that you are paying attention, you will be more likely to get the outcome that you seek, namely sticking up for yourself successfully.
Try reflective listening. Many people find it difficult but it really works. After they speak say “I hear you saying that….and I get it.” Words that will allow them to feel heard, validated and empathized with. Often, all people want to be is heard and not feeling so makes them angry and makes them shut down or storm off.
And if your person gets angry and storms off you are way more likely to capitulate and not speak up for yourself, to be less assertive and end up unhappy. Again.
#5 – I will feel confident.
I know this conversation tonight with my boyfriend seems to like it might be the end of the world but really, no matter what, it’s all going to be okay.
I always tell my clients to consider “what is the worst that can happen?”
For me, I know that the worse that could happen would be the death of my child. That I don’t think I could survive. But you know what? I probably could. Regardless, that won’t happen tonight, because of this conversation.
So, yes, a conversation might bring about pain and discomfort and maybe even produce some short, or long, term effects but really, everyone is going to be okay.
You will be especially ok if you speak up for what you want and need. Imagine how that would feel, knowing that you have been heard, as opposed to how it would feel, walking away, feeling like you let yourself down again.
It is an excellent skill to have – to speak up for yourself and get what you want.
Asking for what you want can be difficult but doing so is necessary.
Now that I am done worrying about possible outcomes I have my list of things I want to address and am going to do so carefully and with love.
And while there might be some tears and discomfort, I know that, really, everything is going to be okay. If I can speak up for myself, be more assertive, that, ultimately, I will be happier. We will still love each other and that life will go on.
I can do this. And you can too!
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