It’s Not Just About You

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We’ve all been in a situation where we had to tell someone something they don’t want to hear. Everyone has the right to assert themselves, in fact we should all learn ways how to advocate for ourselves. Even though it’s important to assert ourselves, we also have to be aware that we live a in a world with other people who have equally valid feelings and needs as our own. When you are speaking up to someone, you should do so in a way that avoids being cruel, and keeping in mind it’s not only your feelings that matter.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated,” is a popularly known The Golden Rule. Cited by many people, this phrase can be used as a way being assertive without being cruel. Think of a time you heard something from someone that you didn’t want to hear, and how cruel it was interpreted initially. Think about how you felt. There were most likely feelings of hurt and in some cases, small, wishing they could have spoken to you more respectfully.

Imagine yourself speaking to someone the way you want to be spoken back to. When delivering the bad news apply this rule considerately.

In the next two scenarios, there are examples to better have a discussion with someone under difficult circumstances:

Scenario 1: Person One is the manager of a company. One of their daily responsibilities is to assign weekly project reports to their employees that must be submitted by the end of the week to be thoroughly edited. Person Two, (an employee of Person One) has a habit of being late in submitting their weekly reports the night it is due. This is a problem for Person One due to the 20 other reports set up to edit one-by-one, and this issue needs to be addressed to Person Two to help the work load become more efficient.

What Person One should not do, is let the problem continue and ignore their frustration towards them. Although Person Two is clearly in the wrong submitting late work, Person One needs address the fact they have feelings and personal situations that may not align with the necessary time management.

To accurately assert what Person Two is doing as a problem, Person One should avoid causing any humiliation or shouting by ask the employee to step into their office to speak in private. Person One should be cautious not yell or attack Person Two, but instead, address the problem by stating they facts first. Being the last to submit their project causes the workload to take longer than expected for the boss. Then it’s important to bring up why Person One hasn’t been caarrying their load on time.

Discussing these issues openly can dissolve any tension between a worker and an employee. Before you attempt to throw your anger onto someone at work or in any close relationships, set a time and space for discussion. If there is no room for comply, it is time to let that person go. Comprimise to reach a conclusion, and most of all, ask the right questions.

Scenario 2: Person One and Person Two have been dating for a while. Person One has come to realize that as they have gotten to know their significant other, they see the relationship turning into more of a friendship. While it is normal to fall out of love with somebody, it is important to express those feelings in a respectful and honest way. It is not what you say but how you say it. After all, Person 2s feeling has not changed, it is fair for them to hear how their partner feels but also to be let down gently and not hurtfully.

Both Person One and Person Two should have been communicating openly and honestly throughout the relationship. At the end of the day, you want the person you are dating to be like a good friend who is open and honest as well as kind to you.

You never want to bring the person you are dating down because you’re romantic feelings are closed off. No matter how a relationship is defined (platonic or not) the moment you need to tell someone what they don’t want to hear, the bad news should seem gentle and honest.

It is human nature that when someone is cruel to us we will see everything they do in the future to be clouded by the fact that we think they are a cruel person. We tend to hold onto first impressions, and it naturally follows the person until they see a change in behavior.

According to Psychology Today’s article “The Halo Effect in Overdrive” by Kayla Causey and Aaron Gretzky,

“This is referred to as the ‘halo effect’ because often it seems one characteristic (albeit positive or negative) seems to ‘outshine’ others and bias our perception in the respective direction.”

It’s important Person One should be open and honest, not believing in the relationship romantically will save them from a hard conversation on how they really feel.

Person One should have also been reliable, supportive and kind to Person Two that way when Person One tells Person Two that they are not interested in dating anymore, the other does not feel lead on and betrayed after all the time and energy they invested into the relationship.

Person Two will of course be hurt when they are told the person they are dating just wants to be friends. Everyone would be hurt in this situation no matter how respectful you tell someone you are not interested anymore. You can lessen the hurt of the blow if throughout your relationship dynamic there was a pattern of openness, honesty and respect so that when you do tell the other person they don’t feel like a piece of trash that was thrown to the side because you had a history of not being honest with the person.

You don’t have to be best friends with everyone and you don’t have to do anything you do not want to. Just be respectful and honest with other people the way you would want others to be with you that way you can assert your needs but also not hurt others while doing so.

We have all been in a situation where we have had to tell someone something they do not want to hear. Everyone has the right to assert themselves, and in fact we should all learn how to advocate for ourselves. But even though we should assert our needs we also live a in a world with other people that have equally valid feelings and needs as you. It is not all about you and your feelings. When you are letting people know how you feel you should do so in a way that lets others know your needs without being cruel.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated,” is known as The Golden Rule that has been cited by many people. A way of applying The Golden Rule when being assertive to someone without being cruel is to think of a time when someone told you something you did not want to hear but was cruel to you. Think about how you felt. You were probably hurt and felt really small. You probably wished the other person treated you more respectfully. If you have to tell someone something they don’t want to hear always imagine yourself the way you want to be treated when someone delivers bad news to you and apply it to when you are asserting yourself to another person.

If you read below there will be two different scenarios and in each scenario I will explain the best way to handle each situation.

Scenario one: Person One is the manager of a company. One of their daily responsibilities is to assign weekly project reports to their employees that the employees have to submit by the end of the week so that they can edit each report before submitting all the edited reports to their boss. Person Two, one of Person One’s employees has a habit of submitting their weekly reports the night it is due. This is a problem for Person One because they have to read 20 other project reports and edit them. Person One needs to clearly let Person Two know that this is a problem.

What Person One should not do is let the problem continue and bottle up their feelings then yell at Person Two, because even though Person Two is in the wrong they are still a person with feelings. Person One needs to assert that what Person Two is doing is a problem they should address their behavior and not to humiliate Person Two by yelling at them.

In this situation Person One should ask Person Two to come to their office so that they can speak in private. When they are in the office Person One should not yell or attack Person Two. Instead Person Two should address the behavior by saying that they have a pattern of submitting their projects the day it is due and to submit their project at least a day before before the day of the deadline then explain what it is important for projects to be submitted the day before the day of the deadline.

Scenario 2: Person One and Person Two have been dating for six months. Person One likes Person Two but they realize that as they have gotten to know Person Two they see Person Two more as a friend and not really someone they want to date. There is nothing wrong with the fact that Person One wants to just be friends with Person Two and Person One should tell Person Two how they feel but Person One should tell Person Two how they feel in a way that is honest without being mean. It is not what you say but how you say it.

Both Person One and Person Two should have been communicating openly and honestly throughout their six months of dating. They should have been kind and respectful. You want the person you are dating to be like a good friend someone who is open and honest as well as kind to you.

You do not want to be closed off and never bring the person you are dating down not only because that is what defines any kind of healthy relationship (platonic or not), but also so when you have to tell someone what they don’t want to hear the person getting told the bad news does not see the person telling the news as a jerk finding another way of being mean. It is human nature that when someone is cruel to us we will see them as a cruel person and so everything they do in the future will be clouded by the fact that we think they are a cruel person so that everything they say or do is due to them being cruel.

According to Psychology Today’s article “The Halo Effect in Overdrive” by Kayla Causey and Aaron Gretzky

“This is referred to as the “halo effect” because often it seems one characteristic (albeit positive or negative) seems to “outshine” others and bias our perception in the respective direction.”

Person One should have been open and honest not going back and forth with Person Two throughout the whole relationship. Person One should have also been reliable, supportive and kind to Person Two that way when Person One tells Person Two that they are not interested in dating Person Two does not feel lead on and betrayed by Person One.

Person Two will of course be hurt when they are told the person they are dating just wants to be friends. Everyone would be hurt in this situation no matter how respectful you tell someone you are not interested anymore. You can lessen the hurt of the blow if throughout your relationship dynamic there was a pattern of openness, honesty and respect so that when you do tell the other person they don’t feel like a piece of trash that was thrown to the side because you had a history of not being honest with the person. End of Scenario 2.

You don’t have to be best friends with everyone and you don’t have to do anything you do not want to. Just be respectful and honest with other people the way you would want others to be with you that way you can assert your needs but also not hurt others while doing so.