Having Holiday Spirit doesn’t mean being a Welcome doormat - New study underlines the importance of being kind yet assertive with family

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Not being able to say “no” to demanding family members this holiday season could cost you more than money, according to a study by PsychTests.com.

Don’t let the spirit of the holidays coax you into letting others take advantage of your kindness.

The holiday spirit is about being kind and generous, not about letting people walk all over you.

Constantly putting others first and not voicing your wants and needs will leave you feeling helpless, unhappy, and resentful.

The holidays are all about the spirit of giving. According to a a Consumer Reports article, people spend approximately 42 hours on holiday shopping…although one can argue that most of that time is spent in the parking lot searching for a free space. The holiday spirit also encourages us to be kinder and more flexible, even when annoying family members demand more of our time, energy, and patience than we’d like to give. After all, saying “no” and putting our needs first doesn’t align with the holiday season. However, researchers at PsychTests insist that being more assertive with family and putting our foot down is a must.

Analyzing data collected from 12,259 people who took the Emotional Intelligence Test, PsychTests’ researchers compared two different groups:
> People who put others first even when it’s a major inconvenience (categorized as “unassertive Santas”)
> People who won’t put others first when it’s a major inconvenience (“assertive Santas”).

Here’s what the study revealed:

THE WHY - The unassertive Santas said that they grudgingly put others first because…
> 49% of them are not comfortable expressing their feelings, especially negative ones (compared to 27% of Assertive Santas).
> 56% won’t ask for what they want, even when they really want it (compared to    >     > 27% of Assertive Santas).
> 37% are willing to change their attitude, behavior, or appearance in order to please others (compared to 11% of Assertive Santas).
> 45% postpone or avoid conversations about sensitive topics (compared to 23% of Assertive Santas).
> 50% are conflict-avoidant (compared to 23% of Assertive Santas).
> 33% are intimidated by people with strong personalities (compared to 13% of Assertive Santas).
> And 52% admitted that it is very important to them to be liked by everyone (compared to 29% of Assertive Santas).

THE CONSEQUENCES - Unfortunately, when unassertive Santas constantly put others first, they are left with some rather unpleasant feelings:
> 30% feel like they have no control over their lives (compared to 10% of Assertive Santas).
> 52% frequently regret the decisions they make (compared to 22% of Assertive Santas).
> 50% have difficulty letting go of minor annoyances in general (compared to 17% of Assertive Santas).
> 42% berate, insult, or put themselves down (compared to 12% of Assertive Santas).
> And, not surprisingly, half of the sample feels taken advantage of (compared to 12% of Assertive Santas).

Does this mean that the assertive santas are simply selfish and self-absorbed? Not so, according to the researchers at Psychtests. Here are the acts of kindness that both groups committed in recent months:
> Held the door open for someone - 84% of Unassertive Santas and 92% of Assertive Santas
> Bought someone a cup of coffee - 75% of Unassertive Santas and 77% of Assertive Santas.
> Voluntarily ran errands for someone - 86% of Unassertive Santas and of Assertive Santas 79%.
> Gave a lost stranger directions - 79% of Unassertive Santas and 84% of Assertive Santas.
> Helped someone cross the street - 37% of Unassertive Santas and 34% of Assertive Santas.
> Donated time or money to charity 60% of Unassertive Santas and 61% of Assertive Santas.
> Gave a homeless person food or money - 50% of both groups.
> Spent the day lavishing attention on someone who is often neglected - 71% of Unassertive Santas and 62% of Assertive Santas.

“We’re often reluctant to say ‘no’ to family because, well, they’re family. We don’t want to be perceived as selfish, difficult, or even ungrateful, as might be the case when saying ‘no’ to our parents or people who have done favors for us,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “However, it’s important to understand - and I can’t stress this enough - that being assertive doesn’t mean you are selfish, rude, or aggressive. Nor does it involve yelling at people or venting all of your grievances about them. Asserting yourself means placing reasonable limits on what you will allow people to ask of you or say to you, and enforcing those boundaries, calmly yet firmly, when they are crossed. So if, for example, Christmas dinner is at your place and your mother-in-law insists on taking over the cooking, don’t let the spirit of the holidays lull you into compliance. Use this assertiveness template:

I know you want to help me prepare dinner and I appreciate it.

But I feel frustrated and discouraged

When you take over and insist on cooking

Because I feel like you don’t trust my cooking skills and it makes it harder to keep things flowing in the way I want them to.

I’d really appreciate it if you would either ask me if you can help with something, or simply enjoy the party with the rest of the guests.

“If your mother-in-law or anyone else you assert yourself with doesn’t like it, that’s not your issue, it’s theirs. As we have seen with the unassertive group in our study, constantly putting others first and not voicing your wants and needs will leave you feeling helpless, unhappy, and resentful. You won’t end up hating others for taking advantage of you, you’ll end up experiencing a great deal of self-loathing for not standing up for what you want. So, our lesson for the holidays is: Be kind and assertive, and put others first only if doing so brings you both joy. Santa Claus knows that it’s sometimes necessary to put people on the naughty list, and so should you.”

What’s your EQ? Take the Emotional Intelligence Test at: https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3979

Professional users, such as HR managers, coaches, and therapists, can request a free demo for this or other assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists and coaches, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com).

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Ilona Jerabek
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