You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan
The efficiencies of the internet are moving us towards a more insular world and it is becoming more difficult to be mindful of helping others. According to the Dalai Lama that is our sole purpose in being here on earth – to share our compassion and help others.
The Pay It Forward movement has been particularly active on Facebook this year. You may have noticed several posts that read:
“To start this year off in a caring way I’m participating in this Pay-It-Forward initiative:
I don’t usually buy into these things, but due to a recent act of generosity I have decided to get involved, this is for real.
The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in”, will receive a surprise from me at some point in this calendar year – anything from a book, a ticket, a visit, something home grown or made, a postcard, absolutely any surprise!
There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over me and I find something that I believe would suit you and make you happy.
These five people must make the same offer in their Facebook status and distribute their own joy. Simply copy this text onto your profile (don’t share) so we can form a web of connection and kindness.
Let’s do more nice and loving things for each other in 2014, without any reason other than to make each other smile and to show that we think of each other. Here’s to a more enjoyable, more friendly and love-filled year.”
So while our modern world seems to be encouraging selfishness, greed and isolation – Happiness Weekly looks at some ways that you can help others this week without having an agenda of your own. Truly helping others means there’s nothing in it for you – in fact, the person you may help may never be able to repay you and that’s the ultimate aspiration in truly helping others.
The benefits of helping others includes:
– Connecting you to someone in an otherwise very lonely world
– Enhancing someone else’s life
– Making the world a better place to live
Things you can do to help others
– Teach them something new
– Smile and be friendly
– Volunteer for a charity
– Start your own charity
– Make a donation
– Share your knowledge
– Help someone do something – e.g. cross the street, change a flat tyre, get from A to B
– Donate something you don’t use
– Comfort someone
– Buy food for a homeless person
– Listen to someone
– Do a chore for someone
– Send a nice email
– Share your favourite things (movie, song etc) – if you enjoyed it, someone else may too
– Give a loved-one a massage
– Praise someone publicly
– Be patient with someone
– Tutor a child
– Make a care package for someone
– Speak up for someone – sign a petition, write a letter etc.
– Offer to babysit
– Share what you have
– Find out what’s valuable to someone and get it for them
– Present an opportunity to someone or make them aware of it
– Give transparent feedback to better performance (without being too critical)
– Introduce people to each other, help people network
– Give someone a gift
– Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return
– Welcome a new neighbour by baking for them
– Use your power to help people around you have a good day
– Only see good in people and treat everyone accordingly
We’re all here together and the only certainty is we have one life and we’re living it now. Help others to be the best they can be where ever you can, because if everyone surrounding you is doing the same, imagine the powerful world we would live in.
Pages that helped inspire this blog:
Don’t be upset if people prefer another to you, it’s difficult to convince a monkey that strawberries are sweeter than bananas. Anonymous
Are you in a relationship that is making you feel bad about yourself? Are you doubting yourself or finding you’re having paranoid thoughts about your actions and their impact? Do you find yourself acting out in ways that you never have before? Are you constantly distressed and not sure if you’re relationship is coming or going? Are you isolated from your loved ones or has your self-esteem plummeted due to continuing this relationship? I bet you can’t recognise yourself anymore too… DROP IT LIKE IT’S HOT!
We have all encountered toxic people in our life, but for those of us unlucky enough to experience a toxic relationship, you will understand how these feelings and symptoms mentioned above crept subtly into your relationship and started affecting it, and how painful it is to let the person go – particularly because you will generally love them and care for them that little bit extra because they have needed you and dragged you down at the same time. Sometimes we need to love someone from a distance and unfortunately this means the process of detoxing yourself from them. If your partner is putting you down, crushing your spirit or you have found out that they are cheating on you, this blog is for you. This week, Relationship Free looks at how you can release yourself from a toxic relationship and get on with a happier life – even if it means being alone.
The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behaviour affect the rights and wellbeing of others. Sharon Anthony Bower
Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes. Eleanor Roosevelt
Assertive communication helps us express our feelings, thoughts and wants in a way that allows us to stand up for our rights without infringing on the rights of other people. Like any social behaviour, assertiveness skills have to be learned and practiced.
Assertive communication involves the following steps:
Identify your communication style
Passive – I talk softly and rarely stand up for my rights. I usually try to avoid conflict and arguments. I don’t usually get rejected directly, but people take advantage of me because I am afraid to say no – then I get angry and resentful when my needs are not met.
Aggressive – I always get my way, even if I have to hurt or offend people to get it. People never push me around. I use my position, power, and harsh or manipulative words. I speak in a loud voice. I can be abusive and enjoy getting even with people.
Passive Aggressive – I’m sly, sarcastic and subtly insulting. I protect myself by avoiding problems and risks. I deliberately ruin other people’s plan or projects. I talk about others in negative ways. I dress however I want, regardless of the situation.
Assertive – I often get what I want without offending other people. I am clear and direct when I communicate and am able to express my thoughts, feelings and wants easily. I am honest and show my confidence without being aggressive about it.
Identify your solutions style
Usually you may have no problem being assertive, but when it comes to solving a problem tend to become passive or aggressive. Use the examples above to identify what communication style you use when solving a problem.
Know your values and beliefs
Your beliefs and values were moulded during childhood and include rules about “good” and “bad” ways to act as taught by our parents and other role models.
Learn the responsibilities that come with effective communication
* Assess your true feelings without exaggeration or minimising. Express your feelings appropriately without insulting anyone
* Reply as soon as possible without taking an unreasonable amount of time
* Thinking through your opinions and realising others can disagree
* Learn from mistakes rather than punishing yourself or others for them
* Act responsibly
* Feel appropriate anger and happiness, and share those feelings with the people involved
* Don’t impose your personal beliefs or standards on others
* Think through your responses before answering a question
* Respect your commitments and allow enough time to fulfil promises
* Talk about your needs and learn to compromise
* Express your feelings without infringing on the rights and responsibilities of others
* Avoid labelling or making unfair judgements on yourself or others.
Learn to use assertive communication
Express yourself in a way that doesn’t violate the legitimate right of others by using “I” statements, thinking through responses and using correct assertive body language. Remember, there are four parts to a message:
Feelings – by sharing your feelings it allows others to have more understanding. Sharing the way you feel will give others the opportunity to behave in a way that meets your needs. For example: “When you are condescending, I feel disrespected” or “When you hug me, I feel loved”.
Observations – sharing what your senses tell you: it should always be factual. For example: “I heard you call me an idiot” or “I saw you break the door”.
Thoughts – sharing your beliefs and theories shows others that you have attempted to make sense of the situation. For example: “I think it’s hurtful to call me an idiot” or “I think I’m ready to do this course because it will challenge me”.
Needs – It is important to express your needs with other people because they can’t read your mind. For example: “I need some time to think about this” or “I want some quiet so I can concentrate on reassessing my goals”.
Now to put the whole message together
“I feel _______(emotion)_______ when ______(situation)______, because _____(reason)_____, and I need ______(request)________.”
“I feel disappointed when you tell me I can’t do something because you haven’t given me a chance to try it and I need that chance to be disproved before I feel you can make your judgement.”
It may feel unnatural at first, but it just takes practice. The more natural it becomes, the more you will begin to see an improvement in the amount of successful resolutions in your daily situations.
Mind your (body) language
How you express yourself is just as important as what is said. If your body language is assertive, you will:
* Maintain eye contact: don’t stare, but avoid looking down or away
* Keep good posture (stand or sit up straight) and remain at a good distance from the other person – don’t stand too close
* Avoid fidgeting
*Keep your posture open and relaxed, relax your shoulders
* Naturally and briefly open your arms and use other hand gestures to emphasise your words
* Maintain a level tone of voice, and speak clearly at a volume that can easily be heard
* Concentrate on breathing normally speaking at a normal volume
* Keep facial expressions that fit the message you are trying to convey.
Diplomacy is taking responsibility for getting your own needs met in a way that preserves the dignity of the other people involved. Like tact, diplomacy involves careful consideration of the feelings and values of another so as to create harmonious relationships with a reduced potential for offence. It is the ability to communicate hurtful information without offending through the use of consideration, compassion, kindness and reason. Characteristics of diplomatic communication include open, inoffensive communication that is clear, flexible, with specific wording, a positive approach, non-judgemental and demonstrates a relaxed manner both verbally and non-verbally.
How to act diplomatically
– Make a conscious decision to act assertively. Avoid aggressive words and behaviours
– Be decisive when saying no. Explain your reasons without being apologetic
– Approach conflicts diplomatically
– Practice talking assertively with a friend
– Respect the wants, needs and feelings of others and accept their perspective may differ from yours
– Use active listening to ensure people know you have heard them. Ask questions to clarify
– Take a problem-solving approach to conflict and see the other person as your collaborator
– Concentrate on facts
– Use direct language “I think” or “It looks like” rather than “You do this or that”
– Don’t interrupt people when they are talking. Understand what people are saying
– Resist interruptions until you have finished your thoughts. Don’t be scared to say “Just a moment, I haven’t finished…” and continue
– Be conscious of your body language: stop smiling too much, nodding too much, tilting your head or dropping your eyes in response to another person’s gaze.
How to diffuse an argument assertively
– Organise to have the conversation at another time and leave
– If you stay, remain calm, steer the conversation back to the original point, try to understand the other person’s perspective and try to find a common ground
– Accept that other issues may be motivating the person’s behaviour and don’t take it personally
– Avoid taking heat-of-the-moment criticism to heart
– Learn from mistakes and try to negotiate positive scenarios in future with a better outcome. Move the discussion to talk about how you will behave differently in future to get a desired outcome.
Benefits of assertive communication
– Improved confidence and self-esteem
– Better problem solving ability and less conflicts to manage
– Increased resilience
– Reduced stress/anxiety
– Learning the clearest, most productive and effective way to communicate honestly and openly
– The “feel good” feeling we get when we do it correctly – like teamwork!
– Improves relationships and leads to the development of mutual respect
– Assisting us to achieve our goals
– Minimising hurting and alienating people
– Protecting us from being taken advantage of by others
– Making better choices and good decisions
– Expressing ourselves (verbally and non-verbally) about positive and negative topics.
Quick Tips: Being assertive
– Be clear about your objectives: specify what you want and your needs, but be opening to listen to other people’s perspectives and criticisms
– Show respect: stay calm, be kind, maintain an even tone of voice
– Acknowledge the other person’s perspective
– Meet someone at their eye level – sit down or stand up with someone to equalise the balance of power
– Choose your words wisely – put yourself in the picture by using “I” statements, don’t get personal
– Ask questions to clarify the speaker’s intent
– Allow others to assert themselves – don’t interrupt
– Compromise where you can: meet people half way to get more win-win situations.