It is very human that we swing from extremes in behaviors as we attempt to develop new and healthier habits. No where else is this more evident than in the "Diva-Doormat Syndrome" where as women who are owning their power more, both personally and professionally, can flip-flop between Diva Mode; being very demanding and self-righteous when expressing their needs, to Doormat Syndrome; being wishy washy about their needs and overly apologetic.
What do you do while you're trying to strike the happy balance of being able to communicate your needs with grace and elegance, and assertiveness?
Try these four top tips:
1) Become crystal clear with what your needs are- Get support to know what your top and bottom line needs are in any situation. For example, if your co-worker is finishing your sentences for you and it's really annoying you, you can just breathe, look them in the eye and nicely say, "I would really appreciate it if you'd let me finish, and then I'm happy to hear your thoughts." Often we squelch our feelings and then it comes out sideways.
2) Untrigger Regularly- Sometimes we are just too angry to say anything, or even speechless. Take a break and excuse yourself. Go to the Ladies Room and use gestures and even silent screams to vent your frustration. Take some deep breaths and ask yourself, "What do I need to do right now to take care of myself?" and in time, you'll get the answers.
3) Script the more difficult conversation starters- Just as an actor must memorize their lines in order to inhabit a new role, so do we, as women need to have some key phrases or sentence stems in our back pocket, for these specific purposes. While you may want to blast the person or just hide out, simple phrases like, "I'm curious and I'm hoping you can clarify something for me," and let them know where you feel the disconnect in the communication. Or another key phrase is, "When you did (fill in the blanks), I felt or took that to mean, (fill in the blanks)," and let there be silence. Most of the time when people hurt your feelings they have no idea. A gentle nudge that their behavior has impacted you is a great gift to them, as well as advocating for yourself.
4) Celebrate your victories and give up perfection- Reaching this gentle balance takes time and won't happen overnight. Celebrate every victory you have and brainstorm the ones that don't work out so well, to evaluate how you'll do it differently next time.