Join Chris Croft for an in-depth discussion in this video Knowing the most effective words to use, part of Learning to Be Assertive.
- Now the question is, what exact words should you use when you want to tell someone something that they're not going to like hearing? And this could be anything from, telling your boss that you want a raise, telling somebody that the noise of their music through the wall is keeping you awake, wanting to tell somebody that their meeting is badly run, it could be anything, at home or at work. Wouldn't it be amazing if there was a magic four-step process that you could use that would work in any situation.
And there is, and I'm gonna go through it with you now. Now this four-step process isn't actually guaranteed to work in any situation. This isn't gonna work if the person has no vested interest in a good working relationship with you. But of course, in most home and work situations, the other person does have a vested interest in keeping the relationship going, in which case, this four-step process is absolutely the best thing to use. The four-step process has the basic outline of I understand, I feel, I want, Is that OK? So it consists of, first of all, understanding their position and showing that you understand their position.
Secondly, explaining to them clearly how you feel. And we've already said you're gonna do this calmly and quietly, saying how you feel. Not using facts and logic, but feelings. The third bit is to say what you want from the situation, and a bit of planning beforehand might be required to decide what it is that you want. And then the fourth one is to say, "Is that OK? "Is that a reasonable request do you think? "Could you do that for me?" I'll give you an example of this and then I'll explain why this process is so important.
Suppose somebody's interrupting you when you're busy at work. You could just say, "Go away I'm busy," but that's quite aggressive. A nice assertive answer would be to use my four-step process and you'd say, "I understand how urgent this is and see why you want it, "but I just feel a bit under pressure at the moment "with this work I'm doing here. "I'm doing this report. "I need to get it done by lunch time. "Maybe we could talk this afternoon. "Would that be OK?" So you just follow the four-step process. It tells you what to say.
Now, why these four steps in the order they are? And the reason is that steps two and three are the slightly aggressive ones. The feel and the want steps of, you know, "I don't wanna talk to you now. "Can we do it later?" is quite aggressive if you waded straight into that. But they've got this fluffy exterior of steps one and four. So you say, "I do understand, but," I feel like this, I want this. "Is that OK?" So, it's nice the way that two and three have got steps one and four outside them.
That's why they're in that order. And all four of them must be done. If you miss one of them out, it won't be anything like as effective. Now, after you've done step four, there are two things that they might say. They may yes or they may say no. Now what if they say yes and then they don't do it? They go, "Yep, we're really sorry. "We'll turn the music down." And then they don't. Well, that's relatively straightforward because now you can get them on not keeping their promise. You can go back and say, "Do you remember we had "that little conversation ten minutes ago "and you said you'd turn the music down? "And you haven't.
"Would it be possible to do that for me please?" So once you've got a yes out of them, it's fairly easy to go back and say you haven't done what you said you'd do. But what if they say, "No, I'm just not prepared to do that. "It's my party, I'm having music, get stuffed." What can you do then? And what I'd recommend if they say no is, go back around again. And you can say, "Well, I do understand it's your party. "It's great that you're doing that, but I really am "upset about the noise and all I want "is for you to turn it down a little bit.
"Surely you could do that for me." So you go back around and you just jack up the words a little bit with, "I really feel strongly," and "All I want". And if you go back around a second time, it's gonna be a pretty good chance that it's gonna work. Now, I just want to finally stress with this that this is not designed to batter the person into submission. We might be looking for some sort of working compromise that both parties can be happy with. Because, as we've said earlier on this course, it's all about rights.
You've got rights but so have they. And sometimes what you'll find is the other person is reasonably assertive as well. In fact, what if both of you have watched this video and know about this technique? What's gonna happen then? And the answer is, it will still be fine. It's just good communication. I've got an example here that actually is based on a real friend of mine. And what happened was that his wife said to him, and she pretty much used the four-step process of, "I know that you don't like cooking "but I feel a bit neglected when you don't cook me food.
"I would really like it if you cook me an occasional meal. "Would you do that for me?" And he then could have replied, "Well, I can understand why you'd like me to cook for you, "but I feel really tired when I get back home from work "and I hate cooking and, all I want "is for you to cook the food. "Surely you could do that for me, couldn't you?" And then she could use the next one and say, "Well, I can understand why you would hate cooking "but I do really feel quite neglected "and all I want is the occasional meal.
"Surely you could cook for me occasionally?" And they could go round and round forever, couldn't they? But the point is, by using this process, they're both saying how they feel and what they want. And they're both checking with the other person and saying, "Can you see it from my point of view?" And hopefully they can work out some sort of working compromise where, maybe he cooks occasionally or maybe they eat out once a week or have a takeaway or something like that. So this technique could save a marriage. So, that's the four-step process.
I understand, I feel, I want, Is that OK? And I'd like you to just think about which of those four steps you tend to forget. You know, maybe you don't always say how you feel or maybe you're not very clear on what you want or perhaps, you don't always finish with that fourth step of saying, "Do you think that's a reasonable request?" So you can practice one step at a time until you get really smooth at using all the four steps. But you could also think of a particularly difficult situation you've got coming up and you could actually work out what you're gonna say for each of those four steps so that you're ready to use it in a real situation.
- Identifying your current mindset
- Avoiding the passive-aggressive trap
- Reducing negative emotions
- Handling everyday putdowns
- Learning to disagree by questioning
- Knowing the most effective words to use