Managing Yourself Better

By Praneeth Katakolla


Managing yourself is often more difficult than it seems. So many other people, events and things seem to take control of, exert influence over, or just interfere with over our lives and how we want to behave.


Good self management benefits you in Thinking positively, Effectively receiving praise or criticism, Standing up for yourself, Dealing with emotions, feelings & Behaving appropriately, Reducing negative feelings about self & others, Communicating effectively, Avoiding embarrassment, Handling stress etc.,


The following few points will help you in managing yourself effectively.





            Making things happen is the best way to gain confidence. Because it makes you to feel ‘effective’, ‘in control’, and a sense of achievement, hence motivating you.


·        Talking to yourself

     We spend a lot of time in thinking and talking to ourselves. These inner conversations have a lot of impact on our behavior & confidence.


Imagine we are going to a party wearing a nice dress; your inner conversations might go as,


                                 Wrong                                                                                             Better     

“Oh no I look a bit of a mess. I wish I should have                 “well I’ve made an effort to look           

                worn something else”                                              smart, which always makes a good´impression”                                                                                               

Which of the above would make you more confident?

Obviously, the second one. So try to always not to spend time & energy in worrying & being pessimistic about things, and plan how to cope with them, you would feel & behave confidently.


·        Think positively to yourself


·        Don’t   personalize


               Wrong                                                                                   Better

                  ‘He doesn’t like me’                                                           ‘He is behaving rudely’

                  ‘She thinks I’m an idiot’                         ‘She is treating me as if I don’t understand her’                           


·        Don’t   exaggerate


          Don’t exaggerate or dramatize what might happen. Even if bad things happen to you talking about them won’t help.


·        Be realistic.


·        Let go of the past


        Wrong                                                                                            Better

    ‘I handled that badly’                                                            ‘I need to handle things better next´time’                                                                                                 

   ‘I forgot to say again....’                                                         ‘In future I need to remember to say’


·        Separate "who you are" from "what you do"


        Wrong                                                                                           Better

     ‘I’m stupid’                                                                         ‘I did something stupid’

     ‘I’m clumsy’                                                                     ‘That was a clumsy thing to do’



 Accepting reality


The important thing is to be realistic. You want to do things because you are motivated. You want to them in a particular way and in a particular standard. Try and work out what the standard is, and stop asking tough questions to yourselves. Set your own standards, and try and relax them to a reasonable point.


- Allow enough time to do things.

- Do not make assumptions.

- Plan enough so you avoid mistakes.

- Finish things in time even if they aren’t perfect.

- Think of mistakes as a learning how to do the next time.

- Try and relax more and accept that nobody is perfect.

- Set your own priorities and standards.

- Check what is involved before taking any responsibility. 





Most of us do not like to be praised, and hate to be criticized. It is important to appreciate how to give and receive praise, compliments and to avoid embarrassment to the opposite person.


* Giving criticism*

    If you don’t give criticism when you should, then you may take a long time to solve the problem effectively and may leave it so long that it makes you frustrated and emotional; this leads to solving the matter too forcefully.

    It would be nice if people accept our criticism, but we should be prepared for only a partial acceptance or complete denial of our criticism.


$ Criticizing effectively

    Ask the person’s permission before talking to them.

    Criticism without offering advice is waste, so be constructive in your approach.

    Be honest, be open, be positive while you are conversing.

    Never criticize people in front of others.

    Let the other person have a say – criticism needn’t be one-sided.

    Listen to other person, but stick to your guns if criticism is perfectly justified.


*Receiving criticism*


*Reacting to criticism

·        -Acceptance  & Partial acceptance

            If the criticism is found in fact, and you are responsible, then accept it graciously.

            If part of the criticism is fair & founded accept it partly & make it clear that you don’t accept the rest.

·        -Failure to take responsibility

           If the criticism is of something that isn’t your fault, but caused by another person, then you have an option of taking responsibility yourself and then deal with other person afterwards or not to take responsibility. 

·        -Denial

          If the criticism is untrue, then there is no need of arguing, just state the truth calmly and logically.


 *Dealing with the criticism you accept

          try to keep a balanced view while someone is criticizing  you –remember you have good points too!


-Always welcome constructive criticism, as a means of finding out how we can improve.

-Even if other person is labeling us, try to remember that it is really what we did that is at fault, not our person.

-If criticism is founded in fact but has been exaggerated, ignore the exaggeration  & accept the truth.                 

-If you don’t understand what is being raised, ask for clarification.                                                                                        

-Thank them for pointing out the thinks they have raised.                                


         *Giving praise or compliments*


-It is important to give praise or compliments when appropriate, as this is one of the things that gives people confidence. Some get boosted and encouraged yet some feel embarrassed or think we will sound insincere.


-Only give genuine praise and compliments-don’t lie.


-Saying ‘you did really well’ is nice, but can sound insincere. Try ‘I really liked the way you did’. It makes the compliment sound tangible.


-Don’t talk about yourself and the person you are complimenting at the same time. It makes him feel that you are comparing his success with yours.


-Compliments sound insincere if they are said too enthusiastically. Don’t over -do it.


          *Receiving praise and complements*


- Receiving compliments can be embarrassing. We all like praise but something in us makes us feel shy, and we handle it badly. This can take some pleasantness away.


-If someone compliments you, don’t argue with him or her. This sort of comment makes the complimenter feel silly, and discourages from saying nice things again.


-Do not question them.  This makes them feel bad. They don’t have to justify saying something nice.


-If you are suspicious, question them. Ask them what they mean. If they are being devious it becomes apparent. If it was a genuine compliment, just accept gracefully.


-Just say ‘thank you’ after a compliment. You don’t need to say anything else. It makes the giver feel good, and encouraged them to make compliments again.





Thoughts and feelings aren’t the same. A thought is ‘I’m miserable!’ A feeling is feeling miserable. Behaviour is the effect of the feeling felt. Feelings are important –they do matter-but they should not dictate how we behave.


Event ---->   Thought About Event  ---->   Feeling Due to Thought ---->    Behaviour


 Some feelings are good. We probably do not mind being happy, excited & proud. These are positive feelings.But if the feeling is bad, we express it in the form of anger, depression & sadness. These are negative feelings.


            Handling negative feelings


There are two main things that people do while expressing negative feelings. They either suppress or express them.


Suppressing feelings leads to all sorts of trouble like Depression, Low self-worth, Resorting to drugs or alcohol.


 - The problem is that feelings are like energy. So when you keep that energy pent up for too long and don’t release it, you become like an overcooked stew, bubbling away in the oven. Eventually, because you can’t keep the energy held in forever, then the energy leaks out gradually, in abnormal behaviour.


So suppressing negative feelings is not the answer!


So what could be the next option? Is it the expression of negative feelings? Yeah.


Unfortunately, this too can get you into trouble due to lost tempers, sarcasm etc.,


So what we need is to express the negative feelings in an appropriate manner, so that others are less likely to feel uncomfortable.


There are four steps to express the negative feelings:


Step 1:  Explain the event –Say what the person/people have done.

Step 2:  Explain the thought—Say how it affected you.

Step 3:  Explain the feeling—Say how you feel.

Step 4:  Explain the behaviour—Say how you would like them to behave.


Lets understand this in the form of an example.


Assume that you are standing in a queue for boarding a bus. A person pushes himself rudely in front of us, this makes us feel angry. This situation should be tackled implementing the four steps said above.


To -- the person


Step 1: Event:   ‘when he pushes himself in front of you….’

Step 2: Thought: ‘ it implies that he is superior to me..’

Step 3: Feeling: ‘ that makes me feel angry..’

Step 4: Behaviour: ‘please don’t push in front of me again’


So, by expressing our negative feelings in a calm, responsible way, after thinking things through properly, we can deal with our feelings without suppressing them.





Identifying behaviour


How we behave reflects how we feel. To simplify behaviour, imagine you only have two feelings—you feel good or you feel bad. There four kinds of feelings, this leads to four kinds of behaviour as shown,



    Feeling good about self                       Feeling bad about self

Feeling other person is good

     ASSERTIVE BEHAVIOUR                           PASSIVE BEHAVIOUR   

Feeling other person is bad





According to the dictionary Assertiveness means ‘declaring strongly’. Assertiveness is all about how we express ourselves.  It means being aware of  “what you want, how you feel, what you need from others, your opinions & what you believe.”


It means expressing the above things appropriately, calmly, clearly, directly, honestly & in a way that allows both you and others to keep your dignity or pride. So try to be assertive by following the above.


       Dos and Don’ts


           Making requests:



  -Be brief, be direct, be open, believe you have every right to request, respect their right to say no.


- Apologise for asking, butter people up with flattery, play on friendship or relationship, plead, refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer, threaten, exaggerate to make sound more important.


           On saying NO! On a request:



              -Acknowledge the request & their right to make it, try to give the real reason for refusing, say it nicely!


              -Apologise unnecessarily, be abrupt, feel guilty, worry they will be hurt, worry they stop liking you & above all               believe that if you refuse, you won’t be able to make request in return.   


          While disagreeing with people:



-Accept that you have every right to your opinion, be firm, be honest, be open- minded, and be polite.


-Apologise for disagreeing, be afraid they will get angry or upset, and dismiss what they have said as useless, not worthwhile, put the person down.





             Aggression isn’t a pleasant behaviour. The dictionary defines aggression as ‘an unprovoked attack’ or ‘threatening behaviour’. Aggression comes from a mental viewpoint of feeling good about you, and bad about others.


        Identifying aggression


            -By boasting ourselves (‘I’m first’), giving unsolicited advice (‘why don’t you.’), lecturing, and using irritating language.

            -Expressing opinions as facts (‘why don’t you…’), making sarcastic about others (don’t be stupid).

            -Unconstructive criticism (by not using appropriate way), using threatening words.


          Effects of being aggressive on ourselves

-         We always would be waiting for anyone to attack us.

-         We feel embarrassed or shamed over our behaviour.

-         Feel guilt and isolation due to our behaviour.

-         Lack of trust from others.


         Effect of our aggressiveness on others

-         People feel afraid, angry, hurt, rejected of us 


        Dealing effectively with aggression


-         Remember that the person’s aggression may not be pointed towards you, they might be angry with themselves or with others or due to some other circumstances, so they are expressing it at you .So remembering this will make you not to take things personally and get upset.


-         Listen to the words that are being used by the person while ignoring his behaviour and only deal with the meaning of those only.


-         Acknowledge their anger using some neutral words such as ‘I can see you angry’ or ‘you’re obviously angry’. This does two things it highlights the other person’s behaviour  (that he is angry), and says him that you have received what the person has to say in his anger.


-         You are always expected to be interrupted, as aggressive people do it a lot. It is always important to be calm because they are already enraged, and you want them to calm down. Now slowly put across the matter, which you wanted to express to the enraged person. Give him less chance to interrupt you by staying calm.


-         if they are behaving in a way that is difficult to cope up with, try suggesting that you discuss this at a later time-may be suggesting a particular day or time. This gives us time to prepare and giving them time to calm down.





      The dictionary defines passivity as ‘a state where action is suffered by the speaker’ or  ‘inactive’.


   Why we become passive?

-         Thinking that you are ‘less than’ others.

-         Fear of negative consequences that of anger, upsetting the other person, etc.,

-         You believe that being passive means being polite or helpful to others.

-         Because you to avoid behaving aggressively.   Identifying passive behaviour of a person

-         One who apologises excessively, justifies your actions, says nothing.

-         Using phrases such as ‘it doesn’t matter’, ‘I don’t mind’, ‘I’ll manage’.

-         Hesitation words such as ‘err’, ‘you know’, ‘I mean’.

-         Putting yourself down- ‘I’m useless’, ‘I don’t think that I can..’

-         Self-directing phrases such as- ‘I must’, ‘I should’.

-         Seeking permission – ‘would you mind if..’, ‘can I’.


Effect of being passive

-         Depression, feeling angry frustrated with yourself, loss of self-esteem, recognition that you are unable to tackle difficult situations effectively, feel hurt or sorry for your self.


Effect of you being passive on others

-         You may be admired or respected for being by some, but people are more likely to feel sorry for you. Mostly people feel embarrassed, frustrated, irritated by your passivity & lack of respect for you.


Dealing with passively behaving people

-         Talk to the person in a way that it doesn’t threaten them. You need to always find ways to encourage them to build their confidence. Say how they think and feel.

-         If they are stop speaking without finishing what they have started to say, encourage them to complete their speech by using the words such as ‘ go on, I’m interested to know what you think’.

-         Acknowledge them for saying what they have said saying ‘ I really appreciate your view on what you are saying..’. This helps them improving their confidence.

-         Now state your own points about his speech, being firm & gentle in your speech. Remember that they are afraid of your reaction so try to be reassuring, without apologising. 

-         Make them believe that their views are also important. And create an environment such that the person comes again to you and speaks openly with you.





-         Don’t avoid eye contact, Don’t cover your mouth when speaking, Don’t look down, Don’t rapidly blink, Don’t repeatedly swallow, Don’t rub your eye, back, nose & scratch the head while speaking with others.


-          Stand or sit tall, hold your arms away from your body while speaking, stand with feet slightly apart.


-         While talking to a group of people avoid crowding, don’t stand facing another side, lean towards people, and while sitting clasp your hands in front of you and lean forward slightly on your elbows.


-         Keep hands away from your face; speak smoothly neither too fast nor too slowly.     


Lastly we must be able to accept the reality that "we can’t change people". So let them get on with their life.

If any person is rude towards you , the problem isn’t that they were rude, but it is that you didn’t like it. So tell them how you feel, and how their behaviour effects you, but don’t tell them how they should behave—remember, you can’t change people 




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