Gut talk the magic I word

The 'I' word is the basis of assertive language, or 'gut talk'. It looks really simple, but very few people use it successfully at home, at school or socially. This type of language doesn't blame, attack or make anyone defensive. You just take responsibility for what you think, feel and say. Just compare 'It's nice being with you' to 'I like being with you'; or 'You shouldn't interrupt' to 'I don't like you interrupting me'.

Assertive language forces the other person to provide you with instant feedback. You can find out whether he cares about what you feel or not. You actually make him accountable. For example: 'I feel that...'

'I feel that you are being mean to me when you leave me out.'

' I feel very angry about the way the kids spread rumours about me.' ' I am upset because kids tease me.'

'I feel upset when you call me an idiot.'

You need to share your feelings if you want to socialise and stop being bullied. If you are scared of upsetting a friend, you prolong your agony by being friendly to someone who doesn't really care for you. Alternatively, some kids tease for fun; they don't realise that they have gone too far and have hurt your feelings. You will find that if the kid cares, he'll feel bad, say sorry and stop. If he doesn't care, he will continue. As a general rule, don't express your pain to the bully. It will make him happy. Instead, use a cool, neutral voice with a bully or a mean friend and tell him what you think and what you will do:

'I think that name-calling is a form of bullying. If you don't stop I will report you.'

' I think it's unfair. I've done most of the project and you have been slacking.'

' I think that those boys are excluding me.'

You need to trash any faulty beliefs and attitudes and work out your thoughts. Then you can decide what to say to the bully and what to discuss with significant adults at home or school. You need to tell your friends and others what help you require:

' I would like you to stop pushing me around.'

' I want you to behave like a true friend; if not, then forget it.'

' I don't want to give that to you.' (repeat like a broken record)

'Mum/Dad, I'd like you to speak to the principal because the teacher can't help.'

'Teacher, I would like you to tell those kids to stop attacking me.'

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