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Use assertive techniques to thwart bullies

Published: Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

School is in full swing, and it’s a good time to talk about abuse and bullying. Young and old alike have experienced injustices from the rude clerk to abusers in our own homes. The results of this behavior affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

When personal boundaries are crossed, great harm is inflicted. So, what is the answer to when we feel wronged?

First, we need to know what our needs are and what we need in relationships. 

Building self-love and self-esteem is a must when standing up for ourselves. We can help children feel good about themselves by helping them develop a sense of belonging, worth and being capable. Let them know they are loved and accepted. Families can work together by making lists of each one’s strengths and talents. We all need to hear we are appreciated, valued and cherished. 

We need to teach and learn assertive behaviors. Our strength lies in doing something about offenses. If we fight back, disagreements escalate. If we act cowardly or withdraw, we build resentment and suffer pain internally. 

When a mate, co-worker or anyone else attacks us, we need to be ready with “I will not tolerate that behavior” or “I do not deserve to be treated like this.” You voice needs to be firm and match your strong feelings. 

Skills we need to learn for effective communication are “I messages” and “listening skills.” Examples of “I” messages are: I was hurt by what you said; I will be treated with respect.

Examples of listening skills are maintain eye contact, give attention, ask questions, ask for more information, and give feedback. Listen so the other person feels heard.

We all encounter conflict. It is how we feel about ourselves and how we choose to react that makes all the difference in the world.

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