Advanced search

AIBU to ask how to get a backbone?

(20 Posts)
Sister77 Sun 25-May-14 10:18:22

I have read and commented on several threads while I've been on mumsnet. I've noticed so many people (including myself - it's easy to be assertive on an anonymous Internet forum) need to learn how to be assertive.

I've developed the cutting glass tinkling laugh to sarcastically laugh of certain comments (maybe PA but it works for me with certain people).
I don't like the "did you mean to be so rude?" Line because if someone says yes I'm stuffed!

What assertiveness techniques do you use?

brokenhearted55a Sun 25-May-14 10:32:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sister77 Sun 25-May-14 10:39:59

Same problem here broken, it's like sometimes I mean nothing. My needs and wants are second to everyone else's!
Getting better since MN though!

gordyslovesheep Sun 25-May-14 10:45:26

to me a backbone grows the more you learn to like yourself - if you start from the premiss that you are a good and decent human being and have the same rights as all other human beings it's a lot easier to say NO and to reject unfairness

Sparklingbrook Sun 25-May-14 10:47:43

Remember this. You can have a backbone but not be vile. smile

SavoyCabbage Sun 25-May-14 10:58:08

I don't think it's got anything to do with tinkling laughs.

It's about valuing yourself. Not putting yourself at the bottom of the pile.

HappyAgainOneDay Sun 25-May-14 11:05:24

I did an Assertiveness course once. All I remember from it is to keep repeating what I want.

We'll put these things away. We'll put these things away. We'll put these things away. We'll put these things away.

Writerwannabe83 Sun 25-May-14 11:06:55

I wish I had a backbone that was strong enough to tell my grandparents to mind their own fu*king business when it comes to commenting on my life choices. But instead I just smile and nod.......

DoJo Sun 25-May-14 11:40:41

I think having a backbone isn't so much about making people do what you want, but not caring what they do/say. You are unlikely to change the way someone thinks or feels about something, but you can disengage and not waste any time worrying about it. If they get the message and start treating you better then that's a good thing, but if they don't, you aren't left banging your head against a brick wall or feeling as though you should have had a snappy comeback when the real solution is to just not give a fuck what they think.

Thistledew Sun 25-May-14 11:54:25

I think it is more an attitude about yourself than exactly what you say. For example:

I was terribly lacking in confidence when I was at school and was bullied quite a lot. Fortunately, I have discovered my confidence- not 100%, I still have little wobbles from time to time, but can usually tell myself not to be silly.

I was at an alumni event for my old school for people who have entered a particular career one of the people there was someone who had bullied me a bit at school. A group of us were having an informal chat about how we could help current pupils who wanted to go into our line of work and we were debating what age group we should aim at. I had mentioned an hour or so before that I knew I wanted to get into the career from pre-A level stage. The ex-bully was suggesting we should aim at people who were already at university, as he had not decided he wanted to go into the line of work until he was a post grad. He said something along the lines of "what sort of person would know they wanted to do X career from the age of 16 anyway?"

Rather than get upset or feel bullied I turned to him, and with a smile on my face said "Excuse me, there is nothing wrong with knowing what you want to do from an early age - but I'll let you off your comment as I knew what I wanted to do from the age of 14". Basically, turning it into a bit of a joke, but making it quite clear that he was out of order to even try to make a belittling comment.

It is not always easy to think on your feet, but standing up for yourself and putting people in their place with grace and humour - so they have a way to back down without losing face- works well for me. The hardest thing is having the confidence in yourself not to let such comments affect you.

Thistledew Sun 25-May-14 11:57:53

And yes, I did get a very sheepish apology. smile

pineapplecrush Sun 25-May-14 12:06:19

I'm a typical people pleaser. My manager helped a lot recently when she asked me to "manage" peoples' behaviour when possible instead of sitting back and silently stewing, i.e. we have a colleague who calls in our office who is very distracting/demanding. I've totally changed the way I deal with her. I point out where things are, pass her the IT's helpline number etc instead of running around after her and feeling resentful. I feel so much better. I have tried to work it into my personal life, I force myself to say things now, when they need saying. It gets easier. Still getting there but I feel more free and calmer as a result, starting with little things and building up.

todoaboutnothing Sun 25-May-14 18:13:23

What everybody else has said is great advice. I'd just say though that sarcasm and tinkling laughs are just deflective and not really a way to be more assertive. You need to do what you want and have yourself and your family at the top of your agenda every day.

One thing though, don't ever confuse kindness and weakness. They are totally different and a lot of people I have known who suddenly want to assert themselves damage friendships and relationships with others without knowing they are doing so. There is a balance and helping others is a huge part of being human, it doesn't make you a doormat.

CailinDana Sun 25-May-14 18:23:08

The only thing I would say is : take responsibility for yourself.

No one else is in charge of your feelings. No one can "make" you feel a certain way. You are the gatekeeper to your own mind and your own thoughts and you can accept or reject whatever you like. So start acting that way. You can blame everyone else for "walking all over you" for your whole life if you like, it'll change nothing. If you don't want to be walked over, get up off the bloody floor!

I am a confident, assertive person. Part of that is personality - I am pretty oblivious to looks and don't worry at all about my appearance, which I think helps a lot - but part of it is the product of hard-fought slog through my own insecurities. It's worth doing, I feel a lot happier.

CailinDana Sun 25-May-14 18:24:06

Oh and if you don't like something or don't want something - SAY IT!! Expecting other people to be mind-readers and then getting annoyed when they're not is incredibly childish and will not win you friends.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 25-May-14 18:33:43

I have a few stock phrases.

'In what context' gives you time to think of a retort whilst they explain themselves

'What do you mean' has the same effect of getting them to explain themselves.

'I completely disagree, I think ...' Means you state your case and that's fine, you don't have to agree with everyone all the time.

CailinDana Sun 25-May-14 18:36:16

Oh and if someone says something rude, just pretend you didn't hear them and ask them to repeat it. If they just blatantly say it again, then they're a rude fucker who needs to be avoided but if they backtrack then job done.

BoomBoomsCousin Sun 25-May-14 20:16:40

I agree with DoJo that having a backbone is more about not caring what others say than about "standing up to" people in a certain way.

If you put more value on your own opinion than theirs then the rest all sort of follows. It will follow in a curt or rude way if you are a bit curt or rude and in a more graceful way if you are graceful. But the backbone is there regardless. Having that sort of confidence seems to be difficult for some people, but if you can find the courage to fake it for a while I would imagine you would soon find that you oought to value your own opinion more and the confidence will build.

t3rr3gl35 Sun 25-May-14 20:25:38

For me, having a backbone means valuing my own needs and opinions. I have respect for myself and others, and I expect the same respect in return. Those who matter, do. And those who don't do not matter.

It took me more than 40 years to learn this.

harriet247 Sun 25-May-14 20:32:47

Yy to what everyone has said.
I was kindof shy in high school, my friends were all prettier, more popular, cooler...
But the thing is, they really werent, they just had the confidence.

So now if im nervous I ask myself 1 of two questions. ..either
'whats the worst that can happen?'
For times when I feel shy or nervous


'What would I do if dd was in this situation?'
That is a special one for if some bloke says something vile to me, a boyfriend tries to treat me in a poor way, a boss or whatever speaks to me like shit..
This one has given me sooo much confidence, because I want dd to grow up strong and confident.
Sorry thats a bit rambly!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now