Always be nice to others?
We all know that most women have been conditioned to be kind to other people all the time. Even to people who are not all kind to them or who cross their boundaries. Many men deal with the same issue. Yet what do you do about this when you, like me, are a secondary-responding person? Do you recognize this: at that moment you freeze and only afterwards at night you realize what the perfect answer would have been?
The other cheek?
If you turn the other cheek, after being hit, you’ll be hit again. If you just smile or be silent after a rude remark, there will be a nastier remark some time afterwards. And if you answer every time someone asks you an inpertinent question, they will dig even further next time.
Agression or assertiveness?
I do not argue here for down-right aggression, but for trying to feel whether someone is o.k. or not o.k. for you. And for the cases when it isn’t here are some sentences that might help women and men who struggle with this. They are not the quickest or funniest responses, but handy sentences that can be used in multiple occassions for secundary-responding people. This way you are being nice to yourself for a change.
In cases of an unwelcome request:
- “Sorry, I cannot”. (and if they persist simply: “I have other obligations”.
- ” I’ll have to think about this. I’ll come back to you about it”.
- “Thanks, but no thanks”.
- “I am flattered, but no”.
- “With all due respect, but no”
In cases of impertinent questions by family and friends:
- “It just does not feel right answering this”.
- “I do not feel comfortable answering this”.
- “I cannot answer this, sorry”.
- “Sorry, this is private”.
- ” Sorry, this is too personal”.
- “It has been lovely to talk to you, but I need to go back to work now”.
- “Sorry, I need to go to the bathroom” (and there you think about how to answer or you simply start a new topic).
- “You should ask him/her directly” . (if it is about another person).
- (With a smile:) “You can always ask, but it does not mean you’ll get an answer”.
- “‘With all due respect, but you are crossing my boundaries here”.
- (With a smile:)”what is this? A police interogation? I hope I am not obliged to answer this.”
- “You should start working for the police”.
- “Even my best friend/my mother would not ask me this!”
- “Curiosity kills the cat”.
- “I am an open book for the part I want to be read. The rest I keep to myself”.
In cases of impertinent questions by relative strangers:
- All of the above.
- “Are you always/often like this?”
- “What business is this of yours?”
- “Do you mind bothering someone else?” and leave.
In cases of insults:
- “I respect myself too much to listen any longer to this”.
- “Stop! This is enough! I am going now”.
- “I am not going to lower myself to this level. I will leave now”.
- “Sorry, but you are going too far” (and leave).
In cases of unwelcome touching:
- “Stop, I do not like it!”
- “Stop, this is irritating!”(and shrug your shoulders as if you are removing a dirty insect).
- “I do not like this now”.
- “No, not now, thank you”.
- “Leave it!”
- “Leave me alone!”
No reasons needed
Whatever sentence you use, do not feel obliged to give reasons or to elaborate. This will often only lead to more questions and remarks of the other. You do not need to give any reason at all. That you feel uncomfortable is enough. If the other persists, just leave. Practise some of the sentences which feel easy enough for you to use. Practise them with your child for instance. It can be great fun and it is also good for them being able to say to authority figures: “with all due respect, but….”. Let us thus not always be nice to others, but especially to ourselves!
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