by Mary Hartley
There will be occasions when your ability to be assertive is challenged by the other person’s arguments and you feel your self-confidence being undermined. A strategy that is helpful in these circumstances is to repeat the core phrase of your message, bypassing attempts to talk you down or talk you out of it.
This is sometimes referred to as the ‘stuck record’ strategy, a historical reference that recalls a time when, yes, astonishing as it may seem to those of you with more recent birth certificates, music came in the form of a quaint grooved vinyl disc. Now listen carefully. You would place this disc on a turntable, and carefully, very carefully, you would lower a needle (also known as a stylus) onto the first groove. A hiss, a crackle, then would issue forth the most wonderful sounds you’d ever heard in your life. The experience was somehow only intensified by the way the needle would sometimes get stuck in a groove so that the phrase on which it paused would be repeated over and over again.
The ‘stuck record’ technique works when someone is being persistent. The principle is that you briefly acknowledge what they are saying, but repeat your core phrase calmly and persistently. This works very well when your request, refusal or observation is clear and unambiguous, and when you are not prepared to negotiate or compromise.
You need your son to pick you up from your evening class. He would rather you made any other arrangement as long as it does not inconvenience him.
‘I know you and Mandy will be watching a DVD tonight, but I do need you to pick me up.’
‘Yes, I could walk home, but I want you to pick me up.’
Find lots more practical exercises and examples in The Smart Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want by Mary Hartley. Mary is a writer and personal development coach who leads workshops and training courses. Packed with humour, it is a book all women will want to treasure and turn to time and time again.
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