Different Types of Attitude
Some people seem to be born with attitude. I'm not referring to the children who will give you lip if you ask them to pick up their toys. That kind of attitude can be more harmful than helpful if not properly honed. I'm referring to the kids who will call you out if you do something unfair or unjust. Sometimes they even add a little spunk to the mix by shaking their heads and snapping their fingers as they flash you a smile while blurting out, "Oh no you didn't" or something else fitting to the occasion. However, many people, children as well as adults, keep their traps shut, even though, speaking out might serve them better. They often fear unforeseen consequences or they worry about how they will be perceived if they bring attention to the matter. However, with practice, just about anybody can acquire an attitude that exudes self-confidence and knocks the boots off of the person or people who attempt to walk all over them.
How to Stop being a People Pleaser
As children, most of us were told to behave, to respect adults, to share our things with others and to be accommodating. Our parents or caregivers hoped that by instilling these qualities in us we would become decent, civil, thoughtful human beings. Fortunately, most of us have become everything they hoped for; however, some of us have also become habitual people pleasers. Instead of determining whether or not compliance to the requests or demands of others could be hurtful to the mental or physical well-being of oneself, the people pleaser tends to focus solely on making life easier for the people who take advantage of them. In addition, the mere thought of standing up for themselves may cause some sort of paralytic shock disorder rendering them speechless. In order to overcome their fears and change their behavior to balance what's right and good for themselves with what's right and good for others, they may need to step back and analyze the situation. They may need to evaluate their own individual worth. They may need to understand that when something feels wrong it probably is and therefore saying "no" is not only okay, it's the right thing to do. Some situations may call for more than words to get the point across. Body language, facial expressions, and/or a dramatic or quick exit may be required for the people pleaser to make people realize they're not playing games.
How to Say No Effectively
On the rare occasion that a people pleaser tries to back away from doing something they don't want to do, the person taking advantage of them often weasels their way into a yes response whether it is spoken or not. A weak "no", a moan or a grunt, or complete silence may transcend as an "okay" in the mind of a taker. Therefore, speaking firmly when delivering a "no" response is crucial to avoid any confusion. When we anticipate how a person will most likely react to rejection and we envision or practice how to counter their pleas, or threats, or whatever, sticking to our guns becomes easier.
Here's one scenario:
Jan has asked you to babysit the past three Saturday's in a row. The first time or two you didn't mind so you readily agreed, However, by the third time you felt like you needed a break from her kids and you thought she might be taking advantage of you so you refused. Jan pleaded by telling you how much she needed this break and you gave in. You know she will ask you to babysit again this Saturday. You could make up an elaborate lie but chances are that will only add to the guilt you're already feeling at the mere thought of saying "no." So, what do you do to avoid cleaning up Kool-Aid again this Saturday? Be considerate to yourself. Think about the reasons you don't want to babysit.
Reason #1.) You need a break. Know that needing a break is a legitimate reason to say no. Saying no does not mean that you are unkind or undeserving of consideration. If it makes you feel better you could help Jan find other options by suggesting she join area parenting groups or look into professional babysitting services. If you don't mind babysitting occasionally, let her know. However, be sure to emphasize that the every Saturday thing stops now.
Reason #2.) You feel Jan is taking advantage of you. Although you do not expect something in return every time you do something for her, you do feel that your friendship wouldn't exist at all if you weren't catering to her needs. How do you get her to stop treating you like a doormat? Before she has a chance to ask you to babysit, ask her to get someone else to babysit Saturday night so the two of you can hang out. If she says she has nobody else to babysit, tell her that you will help her find someone. In addition, you could ask her to come over and help you paint your front room Friday. If she shows up, you might feel a little better about babysitting. If she doesn't show up, you might feel less guilty about saying no.
How to Reject a Request Humorously
Some people will agree to almost anything to avoid discussing the real reason they don't want to do something or to avoid feeling like "the bad guy." Maybe serious conversations make them nervous or they can't stand the thought of somebody not liking them. Adding humor to the rejection sometimes helps people feel more at ease and it often helps them like themselves better. For example, suppose a friend shows up at your door unexpectedly and asks you to help them move some furniture. You're worn out from the work week and you just don't have it in you. Look at them frantically, grab your keys, and announce, "Sorry, I'm late! I was supposed to pick up my pet elephant from the groomers an hour ago." Then, hop in your car and take off. Problem solved. You didn't have to have that dreaded conversation. You didn't have to say no. And, you're so busy laughing at the gall it took to do that, that you're not worrying about whether or not somebody likes you.
Is it Possible to Prepare for the Unknown?
People caught off-guard when someone does something to them or request something from them may accommodate the wishes of the requester even when they have reservations or objections to the request. The culprit behind their compliant reaction usually begins with a lack of preparation. But, how can someone prepare for the unexpected? While we can't envision every possible scenario and practice our reaction to each, we can develop a general idea of what we want out of life, how we expect to be treated, and how we want to treat others. We can learn to defend or promote our ideas by purposefully and valiantly reacting to stop anything that threatens it and to do all that we can to reach our goals.
How to Teach Children to Protect Themselves from Users and Bullies
One way to teach children how to protect themselves from harmful behavior or requests from others is to demonstrate for them how to say "no" firmly. In addition, a demonstration of how to walk away confidently and without reserve may help them to understand that when something feels wrong to them, they have a right to refuse and briskly walk away. When the demonstration is over, having them practice a few times might help them feel more comfortable to react in this manner if ever they should need to. You could form a Parent/Child Safety Group with other trusted parents and work on safety lessons with all the kids.
© 2017 H Lax
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 11, 2017:
Great points, Honey! It has taken me a long time to learn these lessons, but once learned I found I was much happier.
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on August 22, 2017:
Great suggestions and illustrations Honey. Just what I needed to hear at this time. Big thanks and sharing.
My best to you
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 22, 2017:
Like your illustrations. They bear out your points powerfully. Your message is well-needed and timely. Thank you.
Suzie from Carson City on August 22, 2017:
Hey girlfriend....This is a valuable article, packed with common sense, coupled with a fair attitude. This "lesson," you've passed on to your readers, can be a long-time-comin for many individuals however necessary.
We all need to realize that when it comes to protecting ourselves from potential "users" & guilt-free blood-suckers, it requires a resolve and a firmness that must be mastered and then followed through. Great writing!
Hope all is well with you, Honey! Paula