Why do we feel pressured to give answers right away? As I toured a new school for my daughter today (and following two meetings with two different schools the prior week), it struck me how much pressure I felt to give them their desired answers, during the interactions. In reflecting on the experiences, I wanted to share my realizations.
During the phone call last week, they asked me when my daughter would be starting the school and I was taken aback. That’s presumptuous…why did they feel that they had a right to assume she would be attending? I had to brake the silence somehow, but worried about coming off as too rude or giving them false hope. I took a deep breath and told them that I wasn’t sure if she would be attending, I’d like time to process the call with my husband and then tour the school prior to making a decision. I asked for two days after the tour to decide.
“I’d like to be sure it’s a good fit and make sure we don’t see any red flags” I stated.
“What sorts of red flags?” they snapped back quickly…
“I’m not sure, I wouldn’t know until I saw them. It’s important to us to see the space and get a feel for it” I replied, annoyed and beginning to feel defensive.
It is interesting to me, as a therapist who coaches others to be assertive, that I find myself in these sorts of conversations without realizing that I should have seen it coming. The reality is, we cannot predict when we will be thrown a curve ball (that’s what makes them so effective)! The one thing that helps me, without fail, is that I know my rights.
- I have the right to ask for time to make a decision, very few things in life need immediate response
- I have the right to ask for what I want and need
- I have the right to my own emotions
- I have the right to be treated with respect
- I have the right to respectfully disagree with others
- I have the right to be dissatisfied
- I have the right to expect honesty from others
- I have the right to have my opinions heard, in full
Remembering and holding others accountable for the rights listed above does not make you pushy, bad, rude, or “extra” (as long as you maintain respect in your communication). The message we often receive from others, when asserting our needs, is that we are “too much”. We get the message that we should “make ourselves small” in order to keep other people comfortable. If we all stay silent to keep other people comfortable, we will be going backwards in history.
Speak up and speak out, stand up for your needs and rights; however, do it with respect. Maintain your integrity. Remember that you go to bed with yourself every night and I want you to be able to sleep in peace, knowing you kept your composure! I’ll be transparent, while this is how I am feeling today – last week there were tears and frustration levels were high (which is not the time to blog). We had four meetings (some on Zoom, some on the phone) in the two weeks leading up to today’s tour. I was overwhelmed with information and felt alone in making big decisions for my child.
What worked for me is that I held my ground. I didn’t give them their answer after the phone and zoom calls and I held them to the tour. It worked! Today on the tour they were SO much more respectful of my desire to wait and hear all factors and options, prior to making a choice! In the tour, they said “if you choose to send your child to our school….” instead of making the assumption that I would. I felt so much more respected and the pressure was eliminated! I hope this empowers you to slow down and remember your rights in hard discussions. Whether it’s with your boss, spouse, friend, co-worker, child, provider, etc., you have the right to ask for time and respect!