Because being assertive so often delivers improved personal productivity, I’m back again with the fifth post in a series reviewing Dr. Manuel Smith’s 1970 book, When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. You’ll find dialog and quotes from the book.
“As I began to teach non assertive people in nonclinical settings how to cope, it became glaringly apparent that many of us have the same difficulty in coping with our errors in everyday life…and few of us can change our beliefs that errors are wrong (we are guilty) simply by thinking about it.
“How then do you cope assertively with your errors? In the simplest manner, you verbally cope with your errors as if they are exactly that, no more or no less–errors are just errors. In the terminology of systematic assertion, you assertively accept those things that are negative about yourself.
“Although it may seem paradoxical at first glance, those of us who cannot cope assertively with criticism also seem incapable of coping with compliments.”
Following are three situations from the book to further explain:
“Assume you have agreed to leave an information file on your desk at work so a fellow employee could use it over the weekend. On Monday morning, the friend approaches you and asks where the file was on Saturday. You remember that the file was locked up on Friday night and not left on your desk. What can you say?
“Oh, my God! I forgot to leave it on my desk! What an incredibly stupid thing to do! What are you going to do now?
“You didn’t do to well in…(criticism)
“You’re right. I wasn’t too smart in the way I handled that, was I?
“…when you are genuinely complimented on your choice of clothes and you feel they suit you well, you might reply: ‘Thank you. I think it looks nice on me too.’ (Agreeing with the truth.)”
Please share situations where acknowledging a negative or a truth helped you get things done and come out ahead.