How to Face the Challenge of Difficult Conversations
There is no doubt that the emergence of Covid-19 has affected many of our lives both personally and professionally. In the short-term we are having to live and work differently; some spending great amounts of time with family and/or no longer able to see certain people in person, we are adopting new methods of communication.
Not only are we having to connect virtually, but sometimes as a result of Covid-19, our personal and professional conversations present challenges.
Like any new reality, we need to approach it with the right perspective. We need to “re-build “our view of reality. What does this entail? When rebuilding, the right tools make all the difference. So what tool is required for these challenging conversations? Subtle assertiveness.
What is subtle assertiveness?
Subtle assertiveness is a tool utilized by successful people. It can not only make you feel stronger, but it can also give you a much-needed sense of control. Why is this helpful? Because in this time of stress and uncertainty, a feeling of control will give you a boost of confidence.
This boost can help you turn down an unsafe job with a client, persuade a client to proceed, provide much needed advice, look after a loved one’s best interest, be an advocate, or help you turn down an invitation with a family member, who is not adhering to the social distancing guidelines.
Being subtly assertive means to be direct about what you want, need, feel or believe, say what needs to be said, in a way that’s respectful of the views of others. It is neither passive nor aggressive.
It is not a confrontation, but rather a communication skill; one that can reduce conflict, build your self-confidence and improve your relationships.
Being subtly assertive means, you can speak up with confidence. You can assert your own rights, while recognizing other people’s views. When you are assertive, you can draw power from your self-confidence to get your point across both firmly and fairly.
How can you become more subtly assertive?
- Embrace your inner power – Stand tall with your head held high, and your feet shoulder width apart. This POWER STANCE infuses your body and mind with confidence instantly!
- Practice assertiveness in front of the mirror – Talk to yourself, paying close attention to the tone of your speech. Remember that assertiveness is neither passive nor aggressive. Practice speaking up for yourself in a respectful but firm manner. Being subtly assertive means that you can express your displeasure regarding a situation that you do not agree with, without demonstrating anger or disrespect.
Practice statements such as: “I understand what you are saying, but I view it differently”, or “I understand the urgency of your project, but I do not feel comfortable beginning it at this time. We will need to reschedule it to another week”.
- Practice using “I” statements. “I” statements allow you to be confident and assertive without alienating and eliminating other people. These statements are unlikely to do harm and won’t make the listener feel defensive. By beginning a sentence with the word “I” rather than “you”, you can avoid blame and assert yourself without making accusations.
- Practice statements such as: “I prefer to talk with you virtually; I get anxious when I am not adhering to the social distancing guidelines”. You can be direct about how you feel, without being disrespectful.
These “I” statements work well during any kind of negotiation. For instance, as a Home Stager you have recently quoted a project to begin the following week. The homeowner or agent has said that they want you to start, regardless of the Covid-19 crisis. Speaking in a subtly assertive manner, you could respond “That date won’t work. But what I could do is….”.
- Repeat a mantra before situations in which you need to assert yourself. Mantras are specific and personal statements that you repeat to yourself when you need a boost or reassurance. It can be anything, as long as it is meaningful. Use mantras such as, “I stand up for myself” or “I am confident when talking to others”, or “I speak my mind”.
Where should you begin?
As with any other skill, it takes some work and practice to develop these tools so you can use them and rely on them consistently. Begin in front of the mirror, and then put it into play with your family, friends and customers.
Another idea is to write down how you feel “before, during and after”, you have practiced using your new subtle assertiveness skills. Not only will you experience a boost in your self-confidence in the moment, but by recording your experience, you will be able to reflect on the positive feelings associated with developing the trait of subtle assertiveness.
Covid-19 has presented created challenges, both in our personal and professional lives. Not only are some of our conversations difficult, but they need to be done either virtually or over the phone. As you rebuild the view of your new reality, you can gain strength by using the correct tools; tools such as subtle assertiveness.
This non-confrontational method of communication gives you strength and a sense of control. The resulting boost of confidence can be just what the doctor ordered.