Decide Your Legacy

The themes in our lives where we avoid confrontation reveal where we give our power away to others. But to get the best possible outcome we must avoid assuming the end result and become assertive enough to enter those difficult situations. The result can be life-giving.

Show Notes

The themes in our lives where we avoid confrontation reveal where we give our power away to others.  But to get the best possible outcome we must avoid assuming the end result and become assertive enough to enter those difficult situations.  The result can be life-giving.  On this episode we discuss:
  • What it means to give your power away
  • How being more assertive can energize your life
  • Staying committed and following through
  • Taking consistent risks
  • The DEAR MAN framework for dealing with difficult situations / people
  • Illustrations of how my clients have applied the DEAR MAN framework to their lives
  • Taking a reasonable negotiation strategy

Staying Motivated to Reach Your Goals (Episode 46)
Secret Communication Skills (Episode 44)
DEAR MAN Assertiveness Tool (worksheet)

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @adamgragg

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Adam is a life coach and counselor who specializes in helping individuals and organizations find transformational clarity.  He specializes in anxiety, depression, life & career transitions, adolescent challenges, and family counseling.

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What is Decide Your Legacy?

Are you ready to take the steps necessary to thrive? Join us every episode as host Adam Gragg discusses what is holding us back and how to move forward with purpose, along the way developing healthy relationships and navigating life transitions while overcoming fear, stress and anxiety. Adam is a family therapist, mental health professional and life coach helping individuals and organizations find the transformational clarity that unleashes hope. Live the life you want, the legacy you decide.


[00:00:00] Welcome to the Decide Your Legacy podcast. This is episode 47, and I'm your host, Adam Gragg. If you haven't already done so, please subscribe so you never miss another podcast episode. And if you'd enjoyed this podcast, please. Take 15, 30 seconds, pull out your phone, give it a rating, hopefully five star and a review, if you love it, on Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcast content. It helps it grow organically, which it has been significantly.

So a question I get asked frequently, and this relates to a podcast, I think it was episode number 44, where I talked about four communication secrets. The concept of not giving your power away resonated with a lot of people.

I've had, I've had significant, a member of people reach out to me, dozens, regarding that concept, asking for more information and to define it. It basically means when you give away your power, you're responding or reacting based on what you perceive or how you perceive someone else will respond to you. If you act a certain way, so you're basically second guessing, stuck in your head, you're not being yourself.

Today, we're gonna talk about being assertive with difficult people or in difficult situations. Some things you can do, actually some seven things you can do and in acronym you can follow.

So I wanna, as I have in every episode, Talk about some risks that I've taken recently. So one is, yes, I am going to my 30th high school reunion, and it's this Saturday, Friday evening and Saturday in Sacramento, California, my hometown. Excited about that. I asked my apartment complex when I signed another lease, if they would put new carpet in my apartment, a assertively. I've been there almost five years, and they had put new carpet in another apartment. When someone else was moving in because someone else had moved out and anyway, I went ahead and asked them.

I didn't, wasn't mean about it, but I asked. I was glad I did. I realized that the tickets to the dinner for my reunion were sold out and I assertively emailed the alumni office and called and they got me a ticket. So that was something that I probably wouldn't have done a couple years ago, and it worked out well.

Also reached out to an old friend that I went to college with, Ryan, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, and. Talked about going to a game against Utah on the 19th of November. Don't tell my daughter I want to hopefully take her with me. Anyway, reached out, asked him for help, getting tickets and just for recommendations on where to stay, and it turned out well.

It just led to positive interaction and he was excited about it and I haven't seen him, well, I've seen him quite a few times in the last 20 years, but haven't seen him, I don't believe, for about five years. So anyway. If you don't already know, I'm Adam Gragg. I'm a legacy coach, speaker, podcaster, mental health professional since 1999, almost kind of getting close to 25 years, and my life purpose is helping people and organizations find transformational clarity, the kind of clarity that propels them forward to face their biggest fears, usually these emotional fears so they can live and leave the legacy that they desire, the chosen legacy for themselves.

I talk about stuff also that you could describe to your six year old and that six year old can grasp the concepts. For example, last week I talked about start staying motivated. One of the principles was to write down your goals on paper, on purpose. I remember actually once my daughter wanted a guinea pig and we got a picture of a guinea pig and we posted it on the fridge and that was, kind of a way of writing down a goal that she had.

And she saved up half, and I paid for half and her mom paid for me, and her mom paid for half. I also discuss topics. Like I said, your sexual can understand that you can look at your goals every day. That's the point I'm trying to make. I also discuss topics that I myself struggle with. I'm a fellow traveler.

I definitely struggle with assertiveness, with difficult people and difficult situations. The situations I'm talking about are a difficult situation. Could be asking for raise, could be, addressing something with a neighbor that's an issue that's been bothering you or [00:05:00] addressing something with a family member.

Or it could be the type of person, maybe they're highly defensive and it generally leads to defensive type conversations and you want aggressively assertively deal with the issue. We today are gonna discuss how to assertively a tool that will help you tremendously to assertively address these difficult situations and these difficult people.

We give our power away, again, when we don't do what we wanna do because we believe that someone else is gonna react in a certain way. So they get control. And it's all, it's all about control. I mean, we're, we have to release control actually, to get our power back because we're gonna do things that require us to let go of the outcome.

Letting go of the outcome. We don't know what's actually gonna happen. We're just doing the right thing. We know we need to address something. When it's thematic, it continually comes up. It's something that's bothering us consistently. It's not a minor issue. It's more of a significant issue. If it doesn't change, there could be consequences long term down the road, we need to address it.

So think about family members, addiction issues, problems relationally in your marriage. Intimacy connection problems with your boss, there's a lot of things that are thematic. They come up again and again and again. But when we don't say no, we're not being healthy. When we don't address it, we're not being healthy.

We're not loving ourselves, we're not liking ourselves, and that's what it's about. We continually. Sometimes give away our power. When we go back to empty wells, we go back to relationships that we know are just empty. They're not gonna get us anywhere, but we consistently go back. Recently a couple clients came into my office super energized, actually.

One was over Zoom, one was live, and this gal came in and said, Adam, you'll be so proud of me. I reached out to an old friend. We had conflict. I haven't talked to her since high school. And this gal was probably, you know, five years younger than me. And she said the last interaction was in high school and it was not good.

You know, we had a falling out basically. But I reached out to her on LinkedIn and she's an executive at a company and I found her and I just took the risk and said, How you doing? And I thought maybe she wouldn't respond. I thought she'd respond back with something negative since it was a negative interaction last time and ended up being super positive.

I mean, she got this lady engaged her and talked about her family and addressed. Basically started a relationship back up, and then I had another client who came to me and said, Well, he had a situation where, At his church, he noticed that there was somebody there consistently that was lonely and didn't have a lot of connections there.

And he saw them sitting there and he felt kind of this nudge to go and address and talk to the guy. And he didn't do it. And he had told me, previously a month or so ago that he hadn't followed through with this situation and he felt bad about it, and he didn't know if he'd actually see this guy again.

But sure enough, the opportunity presented itself and he said, Adam, I did it. I went and reached out and I talked to the guy and it ended up being a great conversation. We had all these things in common, and in both of these situations, they were super energized because they had faced something that was a fear emotionally that they didn't want to address, that that voice in their head kept saying, Avoid, avoid, avoid.

But they ended up being energized and then, Pretty much every week, month, frequently, I have clients who come into my office and they haven't followed through on a commitment and they're de-energized. But we're gonna talk about things that will energize you today, and one of those is taking the emotional risk to address situations a assertively.

That's essential for good mental health. Maybe one of the most important things you can do for your mental health is to take consistent risks. So think about right now, areas that you're avoiding, people you're avoiding, situations you're avoiding and not addressing because you have fear and anxiety and a good.

Acronym for fear: false evidence appearing real; forget everything and run; face everything and rise. But anyway, what anxiety do you have? And I want you to write that down somewhere. If you're in your car, you can just think about it. Are you avoiding your sister? Your boss, volunteering somewhere, addressing an issue at your church, addressing an issue with your family, addressing an issue with your brother, having boundaries with certain people that are consistently violating those boundaries?

I want you to think about that and then I'm gonna walk you through. How you can actually deal with the situation and face it in a very constructive way. So this is an acronym and it's called Dear Man. And so I'm gonna describe what each letter means. So the very first part is describe. So you're gonna have an interaction with this person.

You're gonna address this difficult situation. So you describe the current situation if necessary. They might already know. You might already know, but tell the person exactly what you're reacting to. Stick to the facts. That's the D. Okay. The E is express. Express your feelings and opinions about the situation.

Assume that your thoughts and feelings are not self evident, that they're not just gonna know your thoughts and feelings. Give a brief rationale, a brief explanation, and use phrases like I want, or I don't want. Not things [00:10:00] like you always, I must. You never can't. Not this polarizing negative language that we can get sucked into, but it's clearly stating what you want.

This is a lot simpler than it may seem. Being assertive is much simpler, but it is scary because you're getting right at the issue, at the core issue right away. Cuz when it comes to conflict, there's generally a core issue. And then there's all these other things that become distractions and become avoidance tactics.

They other issues, like their minor become the issue and the real issue is not actually addressed. So you wanna avoid extreme language. So first one is describe. Describe the situation, express your feelings about it, and give a brief rationale. So an example could be, That you feel as if your brother is not calling you as often as you would like.

So I could call my brother Brandon and tell him, Hey, I haven't heard from you in a couple weeks and I called you and left you a couple messages. Did you get those messages? Yeah, I got those messages. Okay. Well I was kind of discouraged a little bit cuz I want to be more involved in your life and I want.

I want you to respond to my messages, my voicemail or my text when I leave them. You're just asking for what you want. And he could say no. He could get mad. He could get defensive, but you're just asking for what you want in a kind way. So the A, so that's the D and the E. The the A in Dear is assert yourself by asking for what you want or saying no clearly.

Assume that the other will not figure it out or know what you want unless you actually ask. They're not gonna read your mind and don't expect them to know how hard it is for you to actually address this. Don't expect them to know how difficult it is and to give you any kind of empathy or you know, any kind of gentleness or in their response.

So I can think in an example with a lady, a client, and she's in real estate, and recently had a situation where she was. Undercut by another agent on a commission and you know, in real estate and car sales and a lot of high dollar sales, there can be some cutthroat kind of stuff. And so in this specific situation, basically someone said that they deserved the commission and she didn't, or they deserved to get us part of the commission when really she had done all the work and it, the facts really indicated that.

So we talked about it and she was saying how she wanted to avoid saying anything because. Honestly, she's just a really nice person. She doesn't like conflict, but who does? I mean, I guess sociopaths really love conflict, but no one really loves conflict that much. But when you realize that conflict leads to intimacy and growth, then it can be a lot easier to face it.

But anyway, this lady was not going to address this situation, but she had come to me and actually discuss it with me on a number of occasions, and eventually we talked about, well, how would you feel? You got the result that you wanted and you addressed it, and you got the commission and it was resolved, I feel great.

I'd feel, I'd feel great. I'd feel invigorated. I'd trust my boss. I trust my manager. And so we looked at this acronym. Dear man. And so in that, Situation. We were, we role played it. I was her. She was her boss. And so I said, Hey, you know, call the boss. When is a good time to talk? Oh, I got something I wanna share with you and discuss.

It revolves around commissions. And the boss says, Let's talk about it now. Okay. Which a lot of bosses would probably wanna address things right away. So then she explains the facts. So in this situation, I did the work on closing the deal, and here's. Let me elaborate, give you some info, some rationale. You know, I started out with the client.

I showed 'em all the houses. I ended up closing the deal at the very last minute I got sick and I wasn't there to sign the paperwork, but you know, somebody else did. And now they're saying they should get the whole commission. And then you go and ask for what you want. So I want that commission. I want be paid the full commission for that closing.

And you can. Just be that short. I wouldn't suggest you go on and on and you say like, You know, I deserve it. I've been here so long and this is the right thing to do. This is so wrong, and you keep going on and elaborating, giving more information, you're gonna lose somebody. When you do that, it's simply asking, clearly, I want to get paid the full commission.

Then you leave it at that.

And another situation. These are real situations here. So client grew up, she grew up with a mother who was an addict and lives out of town, and this mother will convey herself as being a very good mother to her grandkids for her entire life. Although she had an addiction issue.

Pretty much the majority of this client's childhood, and it's. Very difficult for her to hear her talk like that. And it bothers her because she feels as if it's dishonest. Not that she wants to make her mom look bad in her kid's eyes, but it bothers her [00:15:00] that she doesn't address the fact that her mom misrepresents the childhood situation she grew up in.

And so using this acronym, the Deer, Hey, mom, I have something I want to talk to you about. It's been hard for me to talk to you about this. I may be wrong and inaccurate, or I may be misrepresenting, or maybe I'm remembering things differently than they actually were, which is a soft startup. Although my client, I believe, is remembering things very accurately.

You can softly start up by saying, Hey, I know this was a long time ago that this has been on my mind and it's bothered me. And those times when you describe how good my childhood was, hearing, that angers me Some irritates me some because you had many different men in the house growing up and many times I had to put you to bed and many times.

I had to deal with difficult situations related to your addiction, and I want you to acknowledge that I had to go through some of these things as a child. And not sweep it under the rug. I don't want to relive it. I want some ACEC acknowledgement and then leave it at that. I mean, that's a tough conversation, and I'm not saying you're gonna get a good response from asserting yourself like that.

Don't for a second think this is gonna be an easy thing. And you think about a difficult situation with a coworker. Coworker is consistently making jokes that are. Inappropriate. And let's say they're not sexually inappropriate, they're not, you know, racist, they're not like appropriate, inappropriate to the level that you would report them or whatever to hr, or maybe they are, but you wanna address it with them first.

And so it's just telling them like, Hey, can we find a time to talk? And sometimes what you share is, A little bit too much. For example, when you made that joke about old people that bothered me and I want, or I, I don't want those types of jokes told around me. So you're assertive right there and. Again, not easy, but, So then let's go to the other parts of the acronym.

So the R in the deer is you reinforce, so you reinforce or reward the other person ahead of time by explaining the consequences. Tell the other person the positive effects of getting what you want or need. Tell him or her, if necessary, the negative effects of not getting what you want. So going back to those situations.

The one with the real estate agent, she could say, I'm gonna struggle to trust you if you know I want to get the full commission and it's gonna hurt my trust in you. If I don't, In fact, better way to phrase it would be I want the full commission, and that will really help my trust because I know you have my back and I know you're following through and I know you're doing things to watch out for me.

The negative consequence would be if I don't. Get the commission, it's gonna damage my trust. I don't, I don't encourage you to go to the extremes like, I'm gonna quit. I'm gonna complain to the realtors association. I'm gonna go to the newspaper. I mean, those are all extreme. That's like going from A to Z.

I mean, being assertive means you're consistently addressing things over time. You're not stuffing things and then getting to the place where you resent somebody or some situation so much that the only time you have a conversation about it, you just explode. You just explode. I mean, that's what happens when we don't address things consistently over time.

But a assertively let them know what the consequences are. They're both positive and negative consequences. So for the client who addressing her mom, Mom, I want some acknowledgement of what happened and it's really gonna help me to build trust with you. It's gonna build intimacy in our relationship. I forgive you.

It's gonna mend, mend things even more and bond us even more if there's some level of ownership of what happened and if there's not some level of ownership of what happened, it's gonna be difficult to want to be close because that was a significant, that was my whole childhood and that was very significant.

It's gonna be difficult for me to trust you. You wouldn't wanna say extreme things like, you know, I'm gonna disown you as my mom, or, I'm never gonna let my grandkids around you. No, I mean, you're gonna ruin it if you go to that level. You don't want the atomic option. I mean, that's just absolutely gonna destroy and damage relationships when people threaten and say things, Oh, I'm gonna, if you don't, if I don't get what I want, I'm gonna cut you outta the will.

Or if I don't get what I want, You know, I'm gonna quit, or if I don't get what I want, you know, I'm gonna [00:20:00] tell all kinds of people negative things about you. You know, I'm gonna tell people you're manipulative and that you're a user and that you're negative or whatever. I mean, that's all threatening kind of language.

You wanna run from people who do that. In fact, one of the greatest indications of a healthy person is that they can sit with healthy conflict and think. Internally and look at themselves and ask themselves how it really does apply. It may hurt, it may sting, but they can take from it. Well, okay. They're addressing it calmly.

It's obviously very important to them. I'm gonna listen and try to take this in as difficult as it may be. So the R is reinforced. The B, I mean the, the M is to be mindful. So keep your focus on your objectives. Sometimes you just gotta be like a broken record. I've been telling clients this for years. I mean, a lot of times when you stand up for yourself, it's just being a broken record.

I mean, I've had to do this with my daughter where, Okay, Emerson, You lost your phone and here's why. And I'm gonna give back to you in the morning and you know, I love you and I'd like for us to kind of let this go. And then, you know, teenagers can bring stuff up again, Okay, this is the decision I've made and I'll give it to you in the morning.

And this is why. This is what happened. And so I just keep saying over and over again. The same thing, reiterating it. And that's what you have to do a lot of times in these assertive conversations. So, wait a second. You know I, cuz what happens to people get defensive and you want to ignore the other person's attacks, threats.

Their is their attempts to change the subject, attempts to divert you. You don't wanna respond to those things. So if I go and I can think of a situation even just recently where I asked my parents a assertively to have one holiday with the whole family in Wichita and asked for Thanksgiving or Christmas, could we plan something?

Not necessarily now, but maybe in two years or whatever. I want to do that in Wichita and I got a defensive response about it. and then I had to go back. Well, that may be true, mom, because she had said something I forget about, Oh, I don't even remember what it was, but it was basically about me not coming.

To visit them as much, I believe. And so, and I said, Well, hey, that's a different subject. This is the issue at hand. And I want, and it'd be very positive for me to have everyone come out here because, you know, we do go to New Orleans for the holidays and we have done that a number of different times. . We do travel for holidays often and go to places, so why not have it here sometime?

Oh, we don't like Wichita. Wichita is no good. Whatever, Mom, I want there to be some consideration to this. And then you just keep saying it and not getting sucked into that negativity. People will attack, for example, that realtor. I mean, they could say, Well, all the things we've done for you and you've worked your 10 years, we've always paid you, We've always been good to you here.

And you know, the economy's not great right now, and you shouldn't be complaining because what's what's wrong with you? You know? Or the daughter. You know you're an ungrateful daughter. What's wrong with you to bring this kind of stuff up? It was so long ago. Why can't you just get over it?

Those are diversions. Don't take the bait and get sucked into that. Keep making your point. You may say things like, Okay, some of those things may be valid, or, I'd be happy to talk with you about that at another time. Here's the issue at hand. I wanna address right now, and then you re bring up that issue. I want the commission.

I want some acknowledgement. Of what happened in my childhood. I want some consideration of having a holiday in Wichita and you stick with your guns, being confident in yourself because you are. All those things are gonna try and kind of poke at your confidence, but you go back to the fact that you are doing the right thing and it's not an issue that's just come up out of the blue.

I mean, these are real things that have lingered that you want to address. So hopefully as we're going through this, you're thinking about those people. Cause I challenge you at the very beginning of this podcast to think of somebody that you want to address things a assertively with. And hopefully as I walk through this, you're actually seeing how this can apply to a conversation you can have with that person a assertively.

So if you found this podcast helpful so far, what I'd encourage you to do is subscribe my e newsletter. You're gonna get shatterproof yourself. 27 items, things you can do and engage in to improve your mental health. You don't wanna miss that. Subscribe in the link in this podcast. So let's [00:25:00] the A in man is a peer confident.

You may not feel confident, but appear confident. Have peer confident come across with a voice that's confident. Hold yourself, look them in the eye, even though you don't want to, Don't be staring at the ground. Don't be slurring your speech. And that's why a role play can be so helpful and a rehearsal can be so helpful.

Encourage people to write this kind of stuff out before they actually have the conversation. Often it's gonna become a lot clearer as you write. As you write it out, watch your body language. So open posture, not arms crossed. Appear confident. Work on your confidence. In fact, when you act more confident, it's gonna impact that physiological response of opening up, of being.

Just opening up to the situation actually can make you more confident because you're looking and you're changing the posture of your body, which impacts your mental. It impacts you mentally. So watch that. And then the last one is negotiate. So this is kind of the flexibility area. Be willing to negotiate.

So be willing to give, to get, I mean, there may be some of this negotiation they may come back with, okay, you're asking for a 7% raise and you're assertively asking for what you want, and they're coming back and saying, I can give you a 5% raise. Maybe 7% is your bottom line and you feel justified and asking for that's what you want and you're gonna stick with that.

But maybe there's a willingness to, maybe there's the ability to negotiate and a 5% raise is significant. Or maybe they would be able to give you a 3% raise, but create some kind of bonus structure. What would make, which would make it potentially give you the opportunity to earn 15% more each year or 20% more each year?

Who knows. So to review, Dear man, describe, express, assert, reinforce, be mindful, appear confident, and negotiate. And there's a link in this podcast where you can actually get. A download of this acronym and a worksheet you can fill out. So you can do this on your own to prepare for these difficult people, difficult conversations, difficult situations.

Sometimes people are difficult though just around one topic. They may not be very difficult in other areas, but bringing up one issue creates some challenge in the relationship. So if you have found this podcast helpful, I'd like for you to think about that one takeaway from today and write that down.

Whatever you're gonna do to apply and wanna apply in your life. As I've said before, insight is about 30% of change. Action is the other 70% action is the most difficult part of the process. Take action on something that you have learned today. If you're interested, hire me to speak. I'd love to speak to your place of business.

I can do that over Zoom. This topic here, communication assertiveness is a great topic to have me discuss with your team. When I engage, when I do trainings, I do workshops, sometimes full day, two day workshops, lots of interaction, simple, applicable tools they get to actually practice. That's what I got for you today.

Don't forget to subscribe. Get shadow proof yourself. Make it your mission to live the life now that you wanna be remembered for 10 years after you're gone. You decide your legacy, you decide your future, no one else. I appreciate you, appreciate you greatly, and I'll see you next time.