Are you a pushover?
Do you let people walk all over you? How does that make you feel? Not very good, eh?
You know that we teach others how to treat us, right?
By not standing up for yourself and letting others have their way, you’re teaching them that your rights are not important.
If this is you, you need to boost your power of assertiveness and to teach people how to treat you with respect.
If you are at the other end of spectrum and are acting aggressively, you are trying to manipulate others to get what you want. But, did you know that aggression actually decreases your chances of getting what you want, while being assertive increases your chances?
Assertiveness is a learned trait and anyone can learn to become more assertive in their daily lives.
Here’s some definitions so we all know the differences:
Passiveness: Suppressing your true desires to get along with others while being inwardly resentful to other people (e.g. being a pushover or a doormat)
Assertiveness: Speaking up or standing up for yourself and your rights without diminishing someone else’s rights (e.g. You – after boosting your assertiveness). Assertive people don’t tread on the rights or feelings of others and there are no bad feelings in the encounter.
Aggressiveness: Acting or communicating in a uncivil or disrespectful manner while diminishing someone else’s basic rights (e.g. being a bully). Aggressive people use anger, guilt, threats or reproach to manipulate others into getting what they want. People know when they are being manipulated and are often resentful and hostile to the aggressor.
Assertiveness is a positive thing! It does not mean that you are rude or overbearing or riding roughshod over anyone else. Quite the contrary. You are standing up for yourself while taking the other person’s rights and feelings into consideration, too.
Why become assertive? Here are 10 reasons you should learn to be assertive:
1. It increases your self-confidence and your integrity.
2. You start thinking of win-win, rather than win-lose.
3. Your communication skills with others will increase.
4. You feel good about yourself, even in those instances where you don’t get what you want.
5. Your stress level decreases while you learn how to deal with daily irritations.
6. Others know where you stand when they deal with you.
7. You get more of what you want.
8. You have better relationships with the people in your life.
9. You can increase your leadership skills by learning to be assertive and not use aggression to get what you want.
10. When you stand up for yourself, you learn to stand up for the rights of others who can’t stand up for themselves.
How can you boost your power of assertiveness?
First, know that being assertive is not dependent on your size, weight, gender, ethnic origin or religion. Anyone can learn how to boost their assertiveness.
In order to be assertive, you have to know what you want and what’s important to you.
Not every situation warrants being assertive. You need to recognize those situations that are important enough for you to assert your rights and let others know your feelings.
There’s no use being assertive all day long on trivial matters! Pick your battles and stand up for yourself when you feel that one of your priorities in life requires it.
If your coffee order got mixed up with another’s, is that something you need to be assertive about? It does, if you value your morning coffee But, maybe it isn’t something important to you and you’re happy to try something different.
What if someone cuts in front of you in line? Does that situation warrant you speaking up and calmly telling the person that you were next in line?
What about if you are being passed over for a promotion at work? How can you speak to your boss about your feelings on the situation? Are you going to speak up and have a discussion with your boss about the promotion or will you fume and get your resume updated?
Do you speak up when you go to the cashier to pay for your items and they are too busy talking to their friend on the phone? How long do you wait to be noticed? The assertive person would calmly get the attention of the cashier after a minute or two. Or you can walk out the door so that they lost your business.
Do you allow your spouse to pick the restaurant you’re going to eat at or the movie you’re going to see, every single time? If you have a preference for a particular food or genre, let them know. Don’t be resentful and say “Oh, it doesn’t matter” when it does matter to you!
What can you do today to boost your power of assertiveness?
One example presented itself while I was writing this article. The phone rang and it was yet another telemarketer calling me to ask if I would complete a survey.
If I was being passive, I would allow the caller to continue with their spiel and then answer the survey questions, which would have taken 10-15 minutes of my time.
If I was being aggressive, I would have slammed down the phone after yelling at the caller about not calling me again during dinner.
Instead, I took into consideration the rights of the caller (after all, it’s their job to call people) and calmly told them that I was not interested in the survey and to take me off of their list. I then wished them a good night and we both hung up the phone. This way they know that I am not interested in answering surveys in the future and won’t call me.
I guess I could have just ignored the call when I recognized the 1-1800 number on the Caller ID, but then they would have just kept calling me at various times. Confronting problems is so much easier than hoping that they will go away.
I have another examples of being assertive.
Earlier in my career, I was very sensitive being a female programmer working in the male-dominated IT industry. I was at a brainstorming session with a group of male programmers when my boss (who’s meeting it was) asked me to take the minutes.
If you don’t know what meeting minutes are, basically you are writing down what people say in the meeting and then typing them up afterwards to send them out to the meeting invites. To me, that is an administrative task (e.g. secretarial work).
Instead of quietly fuming being asked to do secretarial work (I didn’t go to university and college to take other people’s notes), I calmly told him that I would rather participate in the session and would be distracted by having to take the notes for the meeting. I also added that, as the only female in the room, I felt that I needed to speak up and represent the female point of view on the application that we were building.
Do you know what happened? Besides never being asked to take minutes again, my manager calmly went to the next person beside me and asked them to take the minutes! It was no big deal to him. But, it was a big deal to me.
I was so proud of myself for saying no. I just knew that if I had given in I would have been furious with myself, resentful to my boss, and would never have forgiven myself.
Maybe this is the reason that no guy has ever asked me to get them the coffee before a meeting during my entire IT career, as happened to a couple of my female friends. So much for equality in the corporate world, eh?
You have to stand up for yourself and teach people how to treat you with respect. Being assertive and standing up for your rights, without diminishing any one else’s rights, is one of the best ways you can teach people how to treat you.
How about you? Do you act passive and let people walk all over you? Are you aggressive and stomp over the rights of others while you go after what you want? Or have you learned how to be assertive? Let us know by leaving a comment. Thanks!
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