Stop Being a Doormat! Assertiveness Training 101

Are you always the one left to pick up the check or take up the slack for co-workers? Do you cave in to excessive demands from family and friends, and generally put your own needs last? Then, maybe it’s time you stopped being a doormat and let everyone walk all over you.


Have you ever asked yourself why you always wind up in that prone position, over and over again? What’s your answer? “I want people to like me,” is a common theme among those who lack assertive skills. They’re generally out to please others, whether or not they wind up getting what they want. They assume – and often wrongly – that being the nice guy or gal will win them points with the person they’re going out of their way for. But it doesn’t always work that way, and sometimes it even backfires.

Doormat types often find themselves feeling resentful, frustrated, and mostly invisible – the opposite of what they set out to be. In their misguided attempt to be helpful and feel special, they end up being stepped on and relegated to the background, while the person they “helped” looks like the hero.

Are you ready to stop being the doormat and start being the door? If so, here are some tips for assertiveness training 101:

First and foremost, learn how to say, “NO” and mean it. Run a worst-case scenario through your mind, and you’ll see it’s not the end of life as you know it if you say “NO!”

Start speaking your truth. If your friend is habitually late for appointments and keeps you waiting up to 30 minutes or more, tell her you’ll no longer wait more than 10 minutes after your meeting time. And stick to it. Ultimatums only work if you keep them.

Learn to use “I” instead of “you.” Sometimes it can be uncomfortable telling someone how you feel about their requests or behavior. Instead of saying, “When YOU keep me waiting for 30 minutes, you are being insensitive to my needs,” say, “I feel hurt when you keep me waiting for 30 minutes, because my needs are important too.” This is less accusatory and will usually not cause the other person to become defensive.

Remember you are not responsible for the other person’s feelings or reaction. If your friend does choose to become defensive after hearing what you said in the previous example, remember you were not the cause of that. Her feelings are her choice of how she chose to react to what you said. You only stated how you felt.

Become clear about your needs and state them whenever appropriate. In the previous example you might say, “What I would like is for you to call me on my cell phone if you expect to be more than 10 minutes late. Then I can decide how I want to spend my time.”

Find situations in which to practice your new assertive skills. Do it in front of a mirror, or practice with a close friend. Over time you will find yourself with a new proficiency that will enhance your ability to speak up for yourself and take care of your needs first.

Being assertive will eliminate your unhealthy relationships while strengthening your healthy ones. It will enhance your self-esteem and raise your self-worth. At the same time you will see your frustration, resentment, and helplessness fade away, as you step into your confidence and power.

Copyright 2008 David Bohl and All rights reserved.

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