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How to get what you want from other people in your life.

There are certain steps you’ve got to go through to get what you want from an adult or peer. Here are the best ways to do that…

Describe the situation as non-judgmentally as possible! Tell the person exactly what you are reacting to and stick to the facts of the situation. Do not bring in other issues or past situations that are similar to the current one.

  • Example: You want to go out to see a movie with a friend, and your mom says no. You ace’d all of your homework quizzes and an exam this week. You haven’t had a chance to see or spend time with this friend for over a month. Instead of getting angry and starting to yell about how your mom never lets you go out with any friends ever, ONLY stick to and describe the situation at hand. Sort of like how a detective would. 

Express your feeling and opinions about the situation, calmly and kindly. Look back on your own experience: what happens when you start to yell? Typically it just creates more problems! Let the other person know exactly what you are feeling in response to the situation. Don’t attack. Don’t assume that others know what you are feeling inside, even a close family member or best friend. Use phrases such as “I feel,” “I want,” “I think,” instead of phrases like “I need,” “you should…” or “I can’t.”

Assert yourself by ASKING for what you want, not TELLING what you want. Others cannot read your mind, and most people respond better to a question instead of a statement. Don’t expect others to know how hard it is for you to ask directly for what you want.

  • Example 2: You need help with an assignment in class, but you don’t like your teacher very much, mainly because you don’t think he likes you. Instead of writing it off and doing poorly on that project, step up and ask for help – even if you do not think you will get it! Just keep these tips in mind when approaching that teacher, make sure you are calm, and talk about the facts.

Reward the person ahead of time. Help them out so they help you out later. When trying to get something that you want, tell the person the positive consequences for you and maybe for them, too. Help the person feel good ahead of time for doing or accepting what you want. Most importantly, don’t forget to do something nice for them afterwards!

  • Example 3: A friend of yours lets you borrow his gym clothes since you’d get a D in PE if you didn’t dress out one more time. You are frantic when you ask your friend, but calm yourself down and tell your friend the grade situation and the negative consequences if you don’t dress out one more time. Then the next day, you do something nice for that person, like save them a seat at break or help them with a class assignment.  

Key Pointers:

If you feel yourself getting mad when talking about what you want, walk away and give yourself time to calm down. Most people “turn off” or “shut down” when someone starts to yell or say mean things to them. No one is as effective as they could be when they are mad!

This is one of the hardest parts: respect that person’s decision no matter what they decide. We can’t control others. Always have a plan B or an action plan of how to react if things don’t go your way. Tomorrow is a new day!

(Adapted from Marsha Linehan’s Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Manual)