For some reason (being a bossed-around second born in my childhood?) being assertive didn’t feel natural to me but in the past few years I have been embracing this skill more and more.
Assertiveness is defined as “having or showing a confident and forceful personality.” For example: "patients should be more assertive with their doctors."
When I was engaged, I was gifted the book “Boss Bride: The Powerful Woman's Playbook for Love and Success” which encouraged women to feel and act from an empowered place in both their professional and personal lives, not just for their big day but beyond. Why don’t more women act like the confident, invincible, “this-is-MY-day” self that many embrace on their wedding day? And how can those of us who don’t have a knack for assertiveness already better hone this skill?
Use objective data to make your point
Since getting pregnant, I have donned assertiveness more than ever before. When our basement flooded due to sump pump failure and a backup pump that couldn’t keep up, the mold smell was evident within 24 hours. As the inspector explained one of the options was to simply remove the sopping wet carpet pad and deodorize the carpet (instead of replacing it entirely) my assertiveness was instantly activated. Horrified at the thought of the new science experiment continuing to worsen, I used facts to articulate my point: “I’m 7 months pregnant and my husband has asthma. I am concerned about our health if we continue to breathe in mold. I also have a concern about a newborn baby playing on carpet that has been treated with chemicals.” The inspector recommended the carpet be replaced.
When there is a misunderstanding and expectations are not met, ask for what you want, again
In other cases, sometimes your goal is subjective. For example, when I went to a new hairstylist and showed pictures to exemplify what I wanted, the end result did not match my expectations. To my new stylist, I am sure she thought the end result looked great. To me, it was still too dark, I wanted it brighter and blonder (don’t all blondes ;). I called and scheduled a correction, and even though I had to revisit my initial request, it was worth it, my hair was bright and beautiful and I felt every bit Elle Woods afterwards.
Have courage and personalize statements
Being assertive still does not come naturally to me, but just being nice to be nice doesn’t anymore, either. The power of being assertive is that it opens the door to having healthy communication in my relationships. Instead of bottling up whatever is concerning to be a “nice” person, embracing assertiveness brings out a more authentic self, allowing me to say and do things that I believe are important. It makes for more enriched relationships, even if it means owning vulnerable attributes. In my pregnancy, I have found myself saying things like, “I know I’m a hypersensitive person...that person’s comment hurt my feelings.”
Summing it up
Of course I want to be nice, friendly, liked by everyone. By adding in assertiveness, especially when I feel concerned, hurt, or challenged, it strengthens self-confidence, enriches interpersonal relationships, and just makes for a more authentic life.