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December 27, 2010

How To Stand Up For Yourself Without Falling Apart

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Below is a post from my new blog http://lmerlobooth.typepad.com/straight_talk_4_women/ Enjoy!

One of my blog readers wrote in to say that she’d like to stand up for herself at work but was fearful that if she did she would be too emotional if she stood up to them.  She’d been able to maintain her composure to date by ignoring her co-workers comments even though she felt degraded on the inside.  How could she learn to stand up without becoming tearful or emotional in the process?

This is a great question and one that many women struggle with.  The reality is that when we first begin to stand up for ourselves it can be a scary process.  The best way to limit the chance of becoming emotional in our response to mistreatment is by starting small keeping our replies short and to the point. Do not start by taking on the most difficult issues first.

Keeping our replies short and to the point will be easier to do for those who are good at thinking quickly.  For those who are not so good with thinking on their feet, take time to think about the usual ways your co-workers mistreat you.  Once you are out of their presence come up with a list of replies you could’ve made but were too afraid to say in the moment.  Sample replies include:
•    “Wow, that was mean.”
•    “Your mean-spiritedness is shocking at times.”
•    “I’m tired of your insults. When you’re ready to be civil let me know.”
•    “I’m fine with talking about my work when you can do so calmly and without putting me down.”


 Begin with similar statements to the ones above to build your confidence.  Make the statement and then exit.  Do not stand there waiting for a reply.  The first step to standing up is simply speaking.  As you get more skilled at step one you can then build on it by making requests and setting limits.  First though, it starts with speaking up consistently in a calm, firm manner.  Simply state your comment as a matter of fact and then continue on with what you were doing.  If the person counters simply give them a bewildered look that says “Really?  That’s how you want to be in life?” After the look simply move on.  Do this every time this person is rude, mean or obnoxious. 

The point of you speaking up is not to get the other person to see the light so to speak but rather to help you build your self-care muscles. The more you stand up for yourself the better you'll feel--regardless of what the other person does.  As you stand up for yourself others often back down and move onto an easier target.  As you get really skilled, you can begin to stand up for what is right—regardless of who the target it is. 

Once you’ve committed to stop allowing co-workers  (or anyone else) to mistreat you, begin to step in with safer people on more minor issues first.  As this step gets easier, expand to more difficult people on bigger issues.  Continue with this progression until you consistently have your back.

CHALLENGE:  Decide today to no longer allow others to treat you poorly.  Begin to build your self-care muscles by speaking up for yourself one incident at a time.  Take note of how it feels when you speak up regardless of how the other person responds.
 

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Thank you for this article. The examples of comebacks are definitely a keeper.

Dear Cassandra, You're very welcome.
Lisa

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