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When silence is not golden

Truth is this is usually not the reality in many situations. People have often died in this silence or are currently suffering in situations where…

Truth is this is usually not the reality in many situations. People have often died in this silence or are currently suffering in situations where changes/amendments could have been made or a reoccurrence of an issue avoided had they spoken up and made known their feelings.

There are reasons why we may find it difficult to speak and stand up for one’s self or express the way we feel about things. For many of us our attitudes to issues and the bulk of our personal styles are formed from our younger years. If you felt invalidated as a child because you grew up in a controlling and subduing environment you may find yourself being afraid to express yourself even as an adult.

A very common reason why many of us go with the norm that silence is golden is the fact that we are people pleasers. We are scared of saying our minds because they will offend somebody even though he/she deserves to hear how exactly we feel about what they have done to us. In such a case, silence is nothing but golden. It is a silent killer eating you up slowly as you will find yourself often churning with bottling up annoyances and grievances. This can make you feel like you are being taken advantage off and damage your self esteem.

Also low self esteem could be a reason one would prefer to stay silent. If you feel bad about yourself, you may not have the self-confidence with which you need to speak up. Low self esteem also has its down side in that someone with low self esteem might attempt to make it up with aggression. In speaking up for yourself and being assertive you do not have to be aggressive.

Basically, speak up when you should rather than staying silent because you believe others will read your face and know what you, or because you don’t want to hurt their feelings even when they have hurt yours, could be related with assertiveness.

According to Edel Jarboe, motivational writer, “Assertive behavior is not hostile, blaming, threatening, demanding, or sarcastic. Assertiveness differs from aggression in that standing up for yourself does not trespass on the rights of others. Assertiveness means communicating what you want in a clear manner, respecting your own rights and feelings and the rights and feelings of others.

“Being assertive is an honest and appropriate expression of one’s feelings, opinions, and needs. Assertiveness is also often associated with positive self-esteem and a better self-image.”

In order to be assertive and leave above the ‘rule’ that silence is golden she offers the following remedies.

•    Develop a value and belief system, which allows you to assert yourself. In other words, give yourself permission to be angry, to say “No,” to ask for help, and to make mistakes. Avoid using tag questions. (“It’s really hot today, isn’t it?”), disclaimers (“I may be wrong, but…”), and question statements (“won’t you close the door?”) all lessen the perceived assertiveness of speech.

•    Resist giving into interruptions until you have completed your thoughts. (Instead, say – “Just a moment, I haven’t finished.”)

•    Stop self-limiting behaviors, such as smiling too much, nodding too much, tilting your head, or dropping your eyes in response to another person’s gaze.

•    When saying “No,” be decisive. Explain why you are refusing but don’t be overly apologetic.

•    Use “I want” or “I feel” statements. Acknowledge the other person’s situation or feelings followed by a statement in which you stand up for your rights. E.g., “I know you’re X, but I feel…”

•    Use “I” language (this is especially useful for expressing negative feelings.) “I” language helps you to focus your anger constructively and to be clear about your own feelings. For example:

  * When you do (Behavior)

  * The effects are (Results)

  * I feel (Emotion)

  * Remember: Stick to the first person, and avoid “you are”.

•    Maintain direct eye contact, keep your posture open and relaxed, be sure your facial expression agrees with the message, and keep a level, well-modulated tone of voice.

•    Listen and let people know you have heard what they said. Ask questions for clarification.

•    Practice! Enlist the aid of friends and family and ask for feedback. Tackle less anxiety-evoking situations first. Build up your assertiveness muscle. Don’t get discouraged if you behave non-assertively. Figure out where you went astray and how to improve your handling of the situation next time. Reward yourself each time you’ve pushed yourself to be assertive regardless of whether or not you get the desired results.

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