UHCS provides students with free mental health counseling that addresses communication difficulties. Sometimes it can be difficult to say 'no,' even when we want to. Expressing your thoughts, feelings, and opinions and standing up for your rights is important. The clinicians in Counseling Services can help you learn how to do just that.
From an Expert at UHCS:
- Includes standing up for your rights without infringing on the rights of others (verbally and nonverbally)
- Results in a "I win, you win" outcome
- Involves expressing beliefs, feelings, and preferences in a way which is direct, honest, appropriate, and shows a high degree of respect for yourself and for others
- Script: "When you.....(behavior)..., I feel/think .......; so I would like ...... (new behavior).
- "When you talk, I can't hear the movie. Please keep it down."
Tips for Behaving More Assertively (taken from Mountain State Centers for Independent Living):
- Speak up when you have an idea or opinion.
- This is one of the biggest steps toward being more assertive and can be easier than you think. It may be as simple as raising your hand in class when you know the answer to a question, suggesting a change to your boss or coworkers, or offering an opinion at a party (even if it's just your opinion of a new movie).
- Stand up for your opinions and stick to them.
- It can be a little harder to express opinions and stick to them when you know that others may disagree, but try to avoid being influenced by others' opinions just out of the desire to fit in. Chances are, you'll gain more respect for standing up for yourself than you will for not taking a stand.
- Make requests and ask for favors.
- Most people find it hard to ask for help when they need it, but people don't always offer without being asked. As long as your requests are reasonable (for example, "Would you mind holding the door while I carry my suitcase to the car?" as opposed to "Would you mind carrying my suitcase to the car while I hang out and watch TV?") most people are willing to help out.
- Refuse requests if they are unreasonable.
- It's perfectly appropriate to turn down requests if they are unreasonable or if you don't have the time or resources. For example, if someone asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, it's fine to simply say no ("I'm sorry but I can't help you with that.") It's also fine to turn down someone if you feel overwhelmed. You can always offer to help in the future or help in another way ("I'm sorry but I don't have time to help you with that today, but I could help you tomorrow").
- Insist that your rights be respected.
- While you want to choose your battles carefully, you do have basic rights that you should feel comfortable standing up for. Some of these rights may be guaranteed you under law, such as your medical, employment, and educational rights. Other rights may involve basic courtesy - such as the right to be treated fairly, equally, and politely by friends, coworkers, and family.
Feel free to contact someone at UHCS if you have any questions.
~ Jill Mallin, Ph.D.
The Limitless Potential of You