Being assertive with friends can be touchy. They may be used to you doing everything they ask at the drop of a hat. You agree to any request they make, change your schedule around to be with them, and even neglect some of the things you want to do for yourself. When you start to be assertive, these behaviors will change. Let’s look at some situations where assertiveness with friends is necessary.

Situation 1: An Obligation to Visit

You feel your friend, Madison, has made you feel obligated to visit her every week. For a time, you enjoyed visiting with her, but now you are feeling you must do so. She makes plans for the two of you every week and insists you be with her at a particular day and time.

Ask yourself if you want others to visit you simply because they feel they are required to do so. If you think not, suggest a time to talk with Madison. Explain that even though you value her friendship, you are feeling obligated to visit her. Tell her you still want to see her but not on such a regular basis. Suggest a number of workable solutions and have her suggest some.

Situation 2: Talkative Terri

Terri, one of your best friends, takes over the conversation when you talk on the phone. The only thing she wants to talk about is herself. She tells you all about her problems and the situations she is faced with. She rarely asks you how you are doing. When she does and you begin to answer, she only listens to a couple sentences and then starts to talk about herself again.

Being assertive is important to put this friendship on an equal footing. Tell Terri that you notice she monopolizes the conversation. Let her know that this makes you uncomfortable. Suggest a compromise, such as, “To make our conversations fairer, why don’t you speak for 15 minutes and then I’ll speak for 15 minutes?” If necessary, use a timer to make sure that she sticks to her allotted time.

Situation 3: The Lingering Guest

William, who is an acquaintance of yours, is recently divorced. He decides to adopt you and use your home as a place of refuge. He arrives unannounced at your doorstep several times a week. He talks to you for hours about his broken marriage, how miserable he is, and how his life is going nowhere.

Because he is in such an unhappy state, you don’t tell him how you really feel. You don’t want to offend your guest or cause a scene. You don’t want to hurt his feelings since he is having a hard time coping with the changes in his life.

Now is the time to be assertive. Tell William that you understand he is very unhappy but that you don’t want to listen to the sad details of his life. Suggest that he see a psychologist if he is so distressed. Tell him you do not want him to come to your house unannounced anymore and that he must call in the future before coming over.

Situation 4: Lending Money

Your friend Emma has asked for a “loan” on three occasions and you have been kind enough to loan her the money she asked for. When you have asked her for the money when she has agreed to pay it back, she always has excuses why she doesn’t have it. She has made no effort to pay back even a small portion of any of the loans.

Tell Emma that you have loaned her money on three different occasions. Write down the amounts and dates you loaned her the money on a piece of paper so she can see it before her. Tell her you want the two of you to make a calendar of when she will pay it back, noting specific dates and amounts. If she begins to make excuses again or does not pay on time, tell her you have no other choice but to take her to small claims court to collect the money. Before you actually file the papers in small claims court, though, give her a time limit to pay you the money according to your agreement.

Situation 5: Vacation Invitation

Noah, your best friend, asks you to accompany him on a vacation to the other side of the country. Although you want to spend more time with him and need a vacation, you feel a cross-country trip would be too exhausting and stressful. You need a vacation to relax not to become more tense.

You may feel that you must go on vacation with your friend to keep the peace or your relationship will deteriorate. Or you may feel that you must show anger before your friend believes that you don’t want to go on vacation with him. Either of these reactions will not serve you well.

Don’t say maybe or pretend you are interested in the offer just to be nice. Tell Noah that you appreciate his suggesting the vacation but that you feel that the trip would be too hard on you. Tell him you would like to spend more time with him and that perhaps a short trip would work for you. Suggest a compromise of a different trip. Or perhaps he would be interested in taking another trip at a later date that would be satisfactory to both of you.

These situations all illustrate ways to teach others how to treat you. While some people are more difficult than others to teach, don’t compromise on being assertive. If you adopt this as a guiding principle in your life, you will be happier and others will respect you more.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers kits with articles, guided visualizations, and songs as well as online courses, group coaching and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, Discover how to improve your relationships and be more assertive by downloading her free kits Create Self-Confidence in Relationships and Develop Assertiveness for Strength!