Do you feel like life’s doormat on occasion? A lack of assertiveness may contribute to this feeling and cost you money in several ways through the general inability to say “no.”
Assertiveness is not aggression – aggression is more of a dominant attitude. In other words, if I am aggressive, I will win at your expense. If I am passive, I will lose to your benefit. If I am properly assertive, I am simply stating my case and working toward win-win situations.
Easy for us to say, you think, as you struggle with your children melting down in the Wal-Mart or explaining to the pushy car salesman that you are not interested in upgrading to a more expensive model. No, it is not easy… but it is essential to gain self-confidence and avoid paying extra for things that you do not want or need.
Consider these examples to help you along the way. Notice that they all center on some form of planning.
- Plan Strategies for Meltdowns – It may seem like your kids plan their tantrums at the most advantageous time for them – and perhaps some kids do – but in most cases it is a matter of expectations and behavioral rewards.
Set expectations for your kids in advance and avoid being “talked into” giving them toys or treats. Let them know when such things are acceptable and when they are not. Be consistent, because once you waver, it is hard to re-establish that you are in charge of the situation.
Your children will challenge you at some point. Resist the urge to yell at them, and certainly never hit them. Retain your cool, keep your voice calm and relaxed, and remove them to a quiet place where you can discuss expectations.
Once children understand that outbursts do not get them what they want and that proper behavior will achieve most of what they want, they will stop challenging you. Remember to reinforce the positive and be consistent.
Be patient. Some children will learn right away, while others will figure it out in graduate school. (Just kidding… we hope.)
- Plan Shopping Purchases – You can avoid being talked into unwanted purchases by doing your homework beforehand. Do some online research on the item and its associated accessories, as well as the expected price. When you are armed with facts, you can calmly fend off sales pitches and stick to what you want.
It is fine simply to browse without the intention to buy, but if you know you are prone to impulse purchases, do not take any form of payment with you. That gives you a ready-made excuse to ignore salespeople’s pleas. Once they realize you are not buying, they will quit bothering you.
- Ignore Solicitors – This covers everything from co-workers selling their kid’s Girl Scout cookies to telemarketers interrupting your dinner. If you have favorite charities, be pre-emptive in giving to them. Plan your charitable giving and tell all others that you have already made your charitable donations. Hang up/Walk away before they have time to respond with a further sales pitch.
Do you see the common thread? Hint: it involves planning.
Understand your weaknesses, make plans that minimize your chances of falling prey to those weaknesses, keep a positive and determined frame of mind, and stay assertive.
After some time this will become second nature, excessive passivity will be replaced with confidence, and you will save money by avoiding unwanted purchases. It is not easy, but with determination and the right mindset, you can do it.