Iris Barrow is an author of self-help books and audio resources. Her practical guides include information, exercises and tips to help with the problems many of us face some time in our personal or work lives. These include relationship difficulties, stress, anxiety, depression, lack of motivation and low self-esteem.
Iris originally produced her books and CDs to give her clients work to do at home between counselling sessions. News of their effectiveness soon spread. There are now 11 books and 8 audio resources. Many of the books are available as ebooks and the audio resources as MP3 downloads. Please browse the shop for titles that may interest and help you.
Speak Up. Have you ever regretted not speaking up for yourself? Perhaps when asking for a pay rise? In a discussion with your partner? In a dispute with a neighbour? Iris found this was a common theme when she was counselling.
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Q: I am 25 and used to have a good circle of friends to do things with. That's all changed. Most of my girlfriends have boyfriends and don't call me like they used to. Sometimes I can feel quite lonely, especially at the weekends.
TIPS ON HOW TO SPEAK UP
Be assertive not aggressive. When you're assertive, you ask for what you want in a respectful and reasonable way. When aggressive, you seek to dominate the other person, sometimes even bullying them to get your way.
It's really important that you are always assertive, not aggressive. Believe that your views and feelings count and respect those of the other person. Too pushy and you'll risk alienating the other person. Too passive and you won't get want you want. Strike the right balance.
Prepare your approach. Think carefully about how you're going to present your case. If you know the person, think about where they're coming from and try and anticipate their reaction so you can prepare your response. It often helps to write down, perhaps even to rehearse, what you want to say. Preparation can give you confidence and calm you.
Use 'I' statements and keep to the point. Talk about what you think or feel. For example, say 'I don't agree' rather than 'you're wrong'. Avoid going off on tangents and if the other person starts veering from the topic, ask them to please return to it, saying something like, 'I'd appreciate it if we could please return to talking about my pay/our difference of opinion.'
Act confidently. This isn't always easy. Preparation will help prevent you getting 'stage fright'. Avoid getting emotional. If it's a meeting, be on time so you're not rushing. Turn your phone off and avoid interruptions if you can.
Follow up. Thank the other person for their time and for considering your proposal or request. Do this after your meeting or talk. If a formal work scenario, you could also send an email afterwards. If you haven't had a response within a reasonable timeframe, put on your assertive hat and send a reminder.
You can adopt a similar strategy at home or with a friend if you feel you haven't been heard or there's been no change. You could say something like, 'I'd really like to know if you've thought about what we talked about. It would benefit us both if we could reach a resolution'.
Speaking up takes courage. It also takes practice. The rewards of speaking your mind while also respecting the other person and where they're coming from are great. Your confidence will grow, so too will your self-respect. You'll feel more positive as the feelings of frustration, resentment and not being 'heard' diminish every time you stand up for yourself.
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