Being assertive is a critical communication skill that every woman should have. Unfortunately, in a world where healthcare disparity is the norm, women in the minority need to advocate for themselves by being forthcoming and assertive. Assertiveness can help women express themselves effectively and stand firm in their convictions.
As a woman, you may often find that you need to visit a gynecologist. While these visits can help you to stay in the loop about your health, it is also essential to have an open line of communication with your gynecologist so that you can feel heard. If you are not naturally assertive, it may be challenging to start the habit, especially when a medical professional is overlooking your concerns. Here are a few tips to make the process easier.
Take Baby Steps:
To start, practice your new skills in situations that do not trigger anxiety. For example, you can practice your assertiveness with a friend, family member, or partner. After the conversation, ask them to evaluate your performance and give you feedback. Self-evaluate your performance afterward, tweak your approach as necessary before your next appointment. If your gynecologist dismissed your apprehensions in the past, this is mainly an excellent opportunity to be assertive about your current medical needs and concerns.
Using "I" statements helps you to be assertive without being accusatory. Try to use the word in statements such as "I disagree" rather than "You're not correct about that." Also, use statements like "I feel uncomfortable" rather than "You are making me uncomfortable." Remember to stay calm and grounded throughout the conversation.
Be Assertive With Your Body Language Too
Body language is also an essential element of communication. The saying "fake it till you make it" is accurate because if you act confident even, you can quickly bring forth your concerns to your doctor in a calm manner. Maintaining a neutral expression and regular eye contact is also a way to assert yourself when speaking to your gynecologist. If you are unsure about your body language, try practicing with an old friend or partner and allow them to give you feedback.
Be Firm, Yet Calm
Some people avoid difficult conversations because conflict is difficult for them. Others avoid it because they lose their tempers somewhere along the line during the conversation. If you begin talking to your gynecologist and you feel yourself getting heated up, take a mental step back and calmly reassess the situation. Excuse yourself if you need to, and return after calming down to continue your conversation. Emotions can often get in the way of resolving conflict. It is very important to maintain a calm demeanor, especially if you feel like your gynecologist is still disrespecting your complaints.
Know Yourself Well
Assertiveness is a crucial skill to have in life. Before your next gynecologist visit, take some time to assess yourself and know what you want and how you intend to get it. If you think the gynecologist needs to recheck you because you did not feel like the first exam addressed your issues, say so. Try to be aware of your communication style, tone, and delivery because assertiveness looks different from one person to the next.
Many women have grown so accustomed to apologizing that they often forget that they did not do anything wrong. When we overuse the word "sorry," it points to a deeply rooted esteem issue. You do not have to apologize to your doctor for asking questions about your health. Often, we quickly apologize when a situation is getting uncomfortable to make the discomfort go away. It is best to face the conversation head-on in such cases rather than shying away from it.
Don't second-guess yourself
When it is time to be assertive and firm with your gynecologist, try to remain firmly rooted in your stance and avoid second-guessing yourself. The minute you begin to second-guess yourself, you lose your power and credibility. If your ultimate goal is to be heard, seen, and validated, then it is critical to focus and completely believe in yourself.
Be Consistent, But Know When to Leave
Unfortunately, if you have tried all of the tricks in the book and there is still no improvement, then it is time to change your strategy. At this point, it is a good idea to get off the road less traveled, but consistency is huge. If you have consistently brought up your worries to your gynecologist and, for whatever reason, they do not respond, then it is time to consider cutting the cord and finding another gynecologist who will take your feedback seriously and address the problem.