Psychological Self-Help

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Acknowledge that the criticism is true, if it is. Don't make flimsy
excuses but do give honest explanations (if you have a valid
one). Examples: "Yes, I have put off doing the report." "Yes, I
was late this morning but my car wouldn't start." 
Even if you don't agree with most of the criticism, you can
single out some part that you do agree with and indicate where
you agree, disregarding all the disagreements. Examples: "You
could be right about..." "I understand how you feel about..."
This is really ducking the issue but that may be what you want
to do. 
Listen carefully and ask for clarification until the person's views
are understood. Focus on his/her main point and ask, "What is
it that bothers you about...?" 
In most interactions, it is not just one person assertively asking for
changes, but rather two people wanting to express their feelings,
opinions or wishes (and maybe get their way). So, each of you must
take turns being assertive and then listen empathetically...that's good
communication if it results in satisfactory compromises. 
Finally, assertiveness is used to confront difficult situations and
people. Some people just won't take "no" for an answer; some kids
continue arguing and arguing; some people don't realize how
determined you are until you repeat the message many times. One
technique is called the broken record: you calmly and firmly repeat a
short, clear statement over and over until the other person gets the
message. Examples: "I want you to be home by midnight," "I don't
like the product and I want my money back," "No, I don't want to go
drinking, I want to study." Repeat the same statement in exactly the
same way until the other person "gets off your back," regardless of the
excuses, diversions, or arguments given by the other person. 
There are other techniques to use when the communication is
breaking down, for instance the topic may have gotten changed, one
or both people may be losing control of their emotions, or the
interaction may be at an impasse: (1) shift the focus from the issue at
hand to what is happening between you and the other person. "We are
both getting upset, let's try to stay reasonable," "We have drifted off
the topic, can we go back to ____?" (2) If you need time to think or to
calm down or if no progress is being made, consider taking a break:
"That's important, let me think about it. Can we take a 10-minute
break?" "I need to sleep on that before making a decision." "I'm too
upset right now to discuss it, I'll be ready to deal with it at 3:00
tomorrow afternoon." 
STEP FOUR: Try being assertive in real life situations.
Start with the easier, less stressful situations. Build some
confidence. Make adjustments in your approach as needed. 
Look for or devise ways of sharpening your assertiveness skills.
Examples: Ask a friend to lend you a piece of clothing, a record album,
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