“Empowerment Tools: Make Direct Requests, Expect Direct Responses” Comments, Page 1

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16 Comments (6 Discussion Threads) on “Empowerment Tools: Make Direct Requests, Expect Direct Responses”

  1. Dr Simon, when being direct with disturbed characters, do you sometimes just have to accept that they may not listen? Then walk away if that’s the case? I’m just being curious as I recently changed my behaviour with someone by being very clear in what I wanted and expected, and said I could no longer do certain things, and at that point he did leave. I couldn’t ignore it for much longer though.

    I’m guessing if that’s the case it’s just better to retire gracefully instead of going back to previous behaviour e.g trying to assert yourself indirectly.

    1. Great question, Ellie. The big secret is that YOU can define the “terms of engagement.” That is, by repeatedly disengaging whenever you’re not being directly and respectfully responded to (and by standing firm on all the other appropriate terms of engagement), the other person will eventually get the message that they must relate to you in a different manner if there is to be any real relationship at all. This takes some time, but it’s worth the effort. Besides, the practice in appropriate self-assertion has additional payoffs. :)

  2. What is one to do, when time and again, one is met with attempts at manipulation and diversion, when there is not listening to those clear simple statements of needs and expectations? Is it reasonable to believe that by repeating it over and over, there is a chance it will be heard eventually?

    1. Brow-beating while entertaining the fantasy that you can make the other person change is often an exercise in futility. Rather, habitually setting your own limits and strictly enforcing the terms of engagement almost always yields results over time, unless, of course the other person is so character disturbed that the last thing they want is any kind of respectful, intimate relationship with anyone, and in that case you lose nothing if they refuse to engage on better terms or walk out.

  3. I have trouble staying focused and ‘on message’ when confronted by someone emotionally stronger than myself. I have a psychological fear of confrontation that has developed over the years from physical and mentally abusive situations. What do you suggest to help me to stay focused and ‘on message’ when confronting someone I walk eggshells around?

    1. I have the same problem, Mary! I hope someone here will have some advice for us both.

    2. Mary, you have eloquently defined the problem many experience but you have perhaps unwittingly also hinted at the solution. The “fear” of confrontation develops not because you are inherently emotionally weaker, but because every single time you “run” from even the lesser confrontations, you “reinforce” the notion that you’re not capable of holding your own ground. Besides, if it appears to the other fighter that you’re not caving in readily, they’re likely to draw upon their arsenal of other tactics and start firing away. In order to build the confidence and presence of mind necessary, you have to limit your time on the field of contest. Don’t “run” from the confrontation necessary, just take time out. And keep focused on one issue at a time and deal with one tactic at a time. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. In time, you’ll find out how much confrontation you can really handle and it will likely surprise you. :)

    3. One of the people I have the most trouble with, is my youngest daughter who is emotionally estranged from me. Her father killed himself many years ago after physically abusing me and my ultimately leaving him. She was merely 5 at the time. He worked at alienating her from me until he died, and those bounds he implanted have stuck fast.

      Consequently, my youngest daughter and I only speak on the phone and only when she deems it ok to answer the phone. I practice just letting her know I am available when she is ready, and only phone her once a month or so…any more and she would never pick up the phone. Regardless, our conversations are very one sided and she uses them to attack me.

      What concerns me the most, is this daughter married a man 6 years older than herself. He took her inheritance she received the day they married (they eloped on her 18th birthday) and spent it on “toys” for himself including a new truck and motorcycle he put in his fathers name. He has been horribly abusive verbally to her in my presence and I worry she has no resources. Living with abuse with my children has in turn set them up for abuse and taught them how to be abusive too. That is entirely my own fault. How can I help her?

  4. Hello, first of all, I´m chilean, so probably I’ll make lot of mistakes writing, but this web is really a great help for people which deals with disordered people. I want to ask you some advice since I had a very Tortuous relationship, about 3 years ago, were I came out really bad. I didn’t know that this guy was borderline. Now I’m with a great person and this borderline appears from nowhere after many years of been ignoring me, and I’m afraid that he can do something to break my actual relation. I have to meet him tomorrow to tell him that I don’t want him un my life, but I don’t know how to do it well.

    Well, whatever it happens, I will tell you here.
    I hope that I coul made myself clear in english, than you very much for this page, it is really helpful.

    1. Hola Daniela, and hi fromt he other side of the Andes, I’m in Argentina :)

      I have a question for you, do you actually “have to” meet him? Any chance that you ignore that person? Controlling people usually resort to whatever it taks to keep in touch. And maybe he just doesn’t care much about what you have to say, even if you simply tell him, I don’t want you in my life anymore.

      You can choose, don’t feel forced to meet him or do whatever he proposes to do. Remember you don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t “have to” do things because you feel it’s your duty, etc. Love yourself first, protect yourself first.

    2. It sounds like you are in a smiliar position than me. My advice, whatever happens dont make much sense to go back with a person that do not appreciate you. I will be weeding off a person forever out of my life and I hope that you can do the same. I will let you know! ;)

  5. Uffff, finally I think that he use all his weapons of manipulation, an he ended telling me that I’m his real love, but in his dream world, because he told me that he lives in 2 worlds, the real one, were I have my relation with my boyfriend, and the other world were he dreams with me. The strangest thing, is that he didn’t talk to me for years, and he also avoid me, when I was suffering, but about 1 month ago, he asked me for a favor and I did it, so because of that beautiful thing yhat I made for him, he know is “lost in love”, is real sick, and I didnt know that he is borderline, I just knew it reading this posts!!!!!
    Now I’m really afraid, I told him about his borderline personality, he laugh and promises me that he won´t do anything to hurt or damage my relation, should I believe that???? Can I have peace??

    1. Hi Daniela,

      In my personal opinion, I think you should quit any kind of contact with him, unless you want to keep involved with him somehow, which I believe you don’t.

      To me, weeding someone out of your life means exactly that. No more contact or relationship of any kind. Free yourself from someone who is toxic. You can do yourself a favor because he won’t do anything to get out of your life.

      ALl the best.

  6. I have sabotaged myself in communication many times, both at work and in my personal life. When I read this article and got to the point about “walking on eggshells” I literally said outloud to the silence of the room, Yes, that’s me!” I always worry about hurting someone else’s feelings and I forget that my feelings count too. My feelings are important.
    So before I read this article, I tried something new in dealing with a particularly close friend. I asked a direct question, actually a series of simple, direct questions. From a couple of neutral (related topic) non- challenging questions to the climax of the big question. He looked straight at me and gave me a direct answer. It was such a relief to be able to ask a pointed question like that! To get the answer was great! So many of my young years, I was conditioned by a very authoritarian father to not ask questions, “don’t shake my authority.”
    It was his way or else. No question about it. I have carried that fear of saying what I want, need, and expect into my romantic relationships in adulthood.
    In my work, I have often been far too apologetic to a supervisor, when the other person was the real problem…(not just with me, but many coworkers had issues with her also), and I inadvertently led her to believe that she did nothing wrong, when my reactions to her were basicly self-survival. This person is not a good supervisor, much like my father was, authoritarian, “I am the boss and you listen to me” attitude, and I have a tendency to crumble under that and become far too submissive out of fear. No one should allow oneself to do that!
    My bachelor’s degree is in social work and I am an accredited teacher in the state of Florida, and yet when it comes to speaking up for myself, I need someone to teach me and counsel me.

    1. Hi, Judy. I’m so glad you had the courage to make this comment. What a testimonial to yourself as well as the principle I was trying to illustrate! This is definitely one for the archives. You defined the dilemma many have experienced with such eloquence. As for needing someone to teach and counsel you, I think you’ve “gotten it” with respect to the principles at stake. What you need now is PRACTICE. : )

    2. I strongly recommend that you read the book on assertiveness called “When I Say No, I Feel Guilty” by Dr. Manuel J. Smith. I read It many years ago and found it very helpful. It doesn’t surprise me that over 2 million copies have been sold. In my opinion its the best book on the topic.

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