It’s not the easiest thing to be assertive with friends.  They may be used to you doing everything they ask.  If you agree to any request they make, cancel appointments to be with them, and even ignore things you have to do so you can do what they want, then you’re like a doormat.  You don’t have your own life; you live for your friends.  
 
When you start to be more confident and act in a stronger manner, you won’t be like this anymore.  Let’s look at some situations where it’s important to be more assertive with your friends.

Situation 1: A Duty to Visit

Your friend Tina believes you should visit her at least once a week.  She expects you to come over to her house and spend time with her, even if you don’t want to.  At first, when she demanded this, you enjoyed visiting with her, but now you feel obligated that you have to do so.  She calls you every week and makes plans on what you are to do and when you’ll do it.  She’s so pushy that you don’t feel you have a choice. 

Do you want other people to visit you only because they feel it is mandatory to do so?  Of course not!  No one wants a friend like that.  It’s really not a friendship at all. 

You need to talk with Tina and make it clear to her that even though you appreciate your friendship with her, you are feeling obligated to see her every week.  Tell her you still want to have a close friendship but that you would prefer not to visit her regularly.  Make a couple other suggestions on how you could see each other and ask her to make suggestions too, then decide to try one that both of you believe will work.

Situation 2: Chatty Cecilia

Cecilia is one of your closest friends, and you want to know how she’s doing and tell her how you’re doing too.  But when you talk on the phone with her, all she wants to talk about is herself.  She’ll listen to what’s happening with you for a few minutes, then spends over an hour going on and on about every little detail of her life.  She shares all about her problems and all the many issues she’s facing.   

It’s important to put this friendship on an equal footing.  She’s monopolizing the conversation, and that isn’t healthy for your relationship with her.  Tell Cecilia that you notice that she dominates the conversation and that this unpleasant to you.  Then suggest an arrangement that can serve both of you, such as, “Here’s what I suggest so that our conversations are fairer.  You speak for 15 minutes and then I’ll speak for 15 minutes, and we can go back and forth like that.”  If you need to, use a timer to make sure that the 15-minute guideline is followed by both of you.

Situation 3: The Persistent Guest

Cody recently got a divorce.  You don’t know him as a close friend; he’s more like an acquaintance.  He comes to your home unannounced many times a week and talks with you for hours about his poor relationship with his ex-wife, how despondent he is, and how his life is going downhill. 

Because he is so unhappy, you don’t want to upset him further.  You don’t want to hurt his feelings since he’s having such a difficult time. 

You know you must be stronger with Cody.  If you don’t, he’ll come to your house anytime day or night and take up hours of your time wallowing in his sorrow.  Tell Cody that you understand he is very sad but that you don’t have the time to listen to him for hours on end.  Suggest that he see a professional to help him through this difficult time.  Make it clear to him that you do not want him to come over unannounced anymore, and if he calls first before coming over, he can stay up to a half hour.

Situation 4: Loaning Money

Your friend Elizabeth has asked you to lend her money a number of times, and you have agreed each time.  But every time you’ve asked for her to pay you back, she always gives you excuses on why she can’t.  She hasn’t paid you back a penny, even though you’ve seen that she has the money to go shopping for new clothes and furniture.

First, write down the amounts and dates you loaned her the money and total them.  Then remind Elizabeth that you’ve loaned her money many times and give her the proof.  Tell her you want to work together to create a schedule of when she will pay you what she owes you, noting the specific dates and amounts she’ll pay. 

If she makes excuses again when the date arrives or she doesn’t pay you when the two of you have agreed, tell her that you have no other choice but to file a claim in small claims court for her to pay you back.  Before you actually do this though, tell her a time limit for her to pay you the money according to the agreement you’ve made.  Then follow through with the claim in court if she continues to refuse to pay you what she owes you.

Situation 5: Vacation Request

Alan, a long-time friend, invites you go on vacation with him to another country.  Although you enjoy spending time with Alan and haven’t had a vacation in over a year, you feel going to another country would be too physically demanding and taxing on you.  You would like to take a vacation that is relaxing, not one that is difficult for you. 

You think of a number of things you could do.  You could tell your friend yes to keep the relationship strong, even though going with him is the last thing you want to do.  You could also get angry at Alan for even asking so that your friend backs away.  

Neither of these is healthy for your relationship.  If you’re too passive, you’ll want to kick yourself for wasting the time and money going on vacation with Alan and you may even resent him for asking.  If you’re too aggressive and yell at him, your friend may take offense and never talk to you again.  
 
Instead, be truthful and tell Alan that you appreciate that he asked you to go on vacation with him but that you feel the journey would be too exhausting for you.  Tell him that you enjoy spending time with him and that you’d be happy to go on a shorter vacation with him.  You can suggest a place closer to home. 

Being assertive with friends is necessary for the best relationships.  You teach others how to treat you, and if you speak up and tell them the truth in a kind manner, they will learn that you are upfront with them and will be honest with them.  In this way, you’ll earn their respect. 

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 three online courses and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to improve your relationships and be a stronger personality in her online course Stop Being a Doormat and Start Using Your Personal Power to Build Healthy Relationships.