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 express their feelings and we should all learn how to advocate for ourselves. However, even though we should assert our needs, we also live 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 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, try thinking about the way you want to be told bad news by somebody and try asserting yourself that way, to the other 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 A: Person A 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 B, one of Person A’s employees, has a habit of submitting their weekly reports the night it is due. This is a problem for Person A because they have to read 20 other project reports and edit them. Person A needs to clearly let Person B know that this is a problem.
In this situation Person A should ask Person B to come to their office so that they can speak in private. When they are in the office Person A should not yell or attack Person B. Instead Person B should address the behavior by saying that they have a pattern of submitting their projects the day it is due and that they would prefer it if they submit their project at least a day before the deadline. Person A should then explain why it is important for projects to be submitted the day before the deadline.
End of Scenario A
Scenario B: Person A and Person B have been dating for six months. Person A likes Person B, but Person A realizes that as they have gotten to know Person B, they see Person B more as a friend and not really someone they want to date. There is nothing wrong with the fact that Person A wants to just be friends with Person B. Person A should tell Person B how they feel, but Person A should tell Person B how they feel in a way that is honest without being mean.
Both Person A and Person B should have been communicating openly and honestly, throughout their six months of dating. They should have been kind and respectful.
You do not want to be closed off and never bring the person you are dating down because eventually when you have to tell that person something that they do not want to hear they do not see you as a jerk finding another way of being mean because 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.”
End of Scenario B
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone and you don’t have to do anything you do not want to. As The Golden Rule stresses 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.