Personal Empowerment: Make Direct Requests, Expect Direct Responses

Accountability for behavior is a fundamental key to empowerment in interpersonal relations.

This is the third article in a series on how to empower yourself not only in relationships with persons of deficient or disordered character, but in all facets of everyday dealings with others. Some of the “tools” of personal empowerment we’ve discussed thus far include never accepting excuses for inappropriate behaviors, and judging actions, not intentions:

Accountability for behavior is a fundamental key to empowerment in interpersonal relations. Knowing your own wants and needs and asserting yourself in pursuit of those needs is one part of the equation. The other part is expecting others to be as responsible in their responses to you once you have made your concerns known.

One of the things I noticed early on in my work with individuals who were in some kind of relationship with a problem character was how hesitant they were to deal with them directly. They always seemed to be “walking on eggshells” with that person and carefully weighing everything they said. It seemed that they took on an inordinate sense of responsibility for approaching issues in such a manner so as not to offend, upset, or irritate the other party. Also, they seemed to think that approaching issues indirectly and not standing up for what they really wanted was less risky than self-assertion. What I later learned was that often times, they had been so used to not getting responsible responses to any of their more direct approaches that they quit trying.

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A key tool of personal empowerment is to make your needs and wants known in a clear, simple, straightforward and direct manner. And, most especially, when you ask questions, ask them in simple, direct, straightforward terms, doing your best to leave out any ambiguity.

Once you have spoken up clearly for yourself, it’s important to expect simple, direct, straightforward, and unambiguous responses and answers to questions. Anything short of that is likely to represent an attempt at manipulation.

So many times people have told me that after seeking a simple answer from the party they were dealing with and after being met with a barrage of diversionary and other tactics, they ended up asking themselves: “Now, what exactly was my question, again?”

If you don’t get a simple, direct response, don’t get sidetracked or succumb to any diversionary or other tactics. Ask again. Stay focused and ‘on message’. Make it clear that you’re steadfast in pursuit of your legitimate issue. That’s the way to maintain self-assertion in an atmosphere in which someone is trying to take advantage of you, manipulate you, or diminish your power and effectiveness.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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