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20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem--page 13
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

Step 13. Be Direct.

As previously mentioned in other steps many people who lack self-esteem are afraid of being rejected. Due to this fear they make their comments and their requests less direct. In which case people are less likely to be responsive. As such, being indirect can become a vicious cycle. People don't understand or hear your requests, comments, or opinions and are not responsive to you. As a result, you may feel rejected and become even more withdrawn and less direct.


Sure, being direct can lead to more confrontation or clear rejection of your request or ideas, but at least you know where you stand and it is not based upon irrational speculation. Also, consider that people are not always be in agreement--it is not a rejection of you just because someone disagrees or refuses a request. Recognize it is okay because it is not necessarily about you.

More importantly, directness is likely to lead to increased acceptance and receptiveness. People are more clear about what you want or think and are more likely to react than to ignore you. Be direct about what you want or what you think. People are generally more responsive to directness.

What is directness?

Being direct is both HOW you say something and WHAT you say. Look the other person in the eye and use a firm but pleasant tone of voice:

  • “Want to meet for coffee tomorrow before work?” vs. “Want to get together sometime?”
  • “I need this report completed by Friday. Can you get it done?” vs. “When do you think you can get to this?”
  • “It causes problems for me when you are late” vs. “I thought we were meeting earlier.”
  • “I am hurt that you didn't include me” vs. “I didn't know you were getting together.”
  • “I think we should approach this in a different way” vs. “Do you think this is the best way?”

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