Dare to be YOU!
Introduction to Brandlady.com
Woman Empowered: Assertive Deportment
D P, Journalist
For starters, how does a woman go about becoming assertive? There are many artificial standards, social constructs, to which a woman’s behavior should adhere. We are mothers, wives, and daughters. Duty is our second name. Many women ask themselves about the limits of egoism – even the term “healthy egoism”, if manifested by a woman’s behavior, smacks of arrogance and provocation.
Men, you understand, are expected to talk about “healthy egoism” – it was created for them, apparently. Voicing their opinions, disagreeing, or expressing criticism are all things most women will always try to do modestly, silently and almost apologetically. Many people would tell you that our task is solving conflicts, not creating them. But is it, really?
Let me tell you, honestly, that I consider myself a very assertive person. Some people appreciate this trait of my character. They know they can rely on me; they know that when I say something I really mean it, that I keep my promises and will stand up for them no matter what. Others consider my assertiveness somehwat problematic. They know that there are things I won’t tolerate - so they call me “confrontational”. They know I won’t be smiling just to make someone happy if there’s everything but reasons for it - so they call me “impolite”. The funniest thing is that my husband is the same as me and guess what? The same people call him “strong”, “decisive” and… “assertive”.
Why should a woman, specifically, be assertive? Because it’s very important to speak your mind. Because you have many things to teach, and others can learn from you. You’re experienced, well-wishing and have a point to make. You don’t need to feel guilty just because somebody else is wrong, has bad table manners, or asks intrusive questions. As simple as that. It can earn you some enemies, but being assertive will secure your self-esteem, make your professional competence noticeable and your opinions will always sound relevant.
Don\\\'t apologize for being angry, simply tell them why you are.
Are you also one of those women who, sometimes, experience difficulties trying to speak their mind? Has it ever been difficult for you to turn down somebody’s offer, invitation, or present? Whether we are confident or withdrawn in the company of other people, we all know these feelings to some extent. It is, indeed, not easy to balance honesty with the consideration of others and their feelings, but it’s not impossible either. Let me guide you through the process of gaining an attitude that will simplify both your life and your relations with others.
MIND YOUR (BODY) LANGUAGE
Communicate your opinions with statements, rather than disclaimers. You don’t have to announce at the very beginning of each sentence how sorry you are about disagreeing with something. Your criticism is a valuable feedback you have to give, and not an accidental remark you must excuse yourself for. Be vocal about what you consider important – nobody will ever speak in your name, even if many people will seem to be doing so. Maintain direct eye contact; don’t be afraid to confront people from whom you differ – whatever differences between you there might be.
You may have to ask your mother to stop commenting on the fact that you and your husband work too much, or advice your neighbor not to vacuum clean at 5am. You have every right to do so; moreover, if you find anyone’s behavior overbearing you even should intervene. The trick here is to react immediately instead of waiting for months, or even years, only to suddenly explode and shout out all your pretensions unexpectedly. Confronting people is not about arguing.
NEVER FEEL GUILTY
In order to feel comfortable while dealing with people in general, you must accept the basic fact about interpersonal relations: you can’t make everybody happy. Becoming assertive requires you to accept this fact with all its consequences. Often times, people will be offended or just disappointed if you admit openly and honestly that you don’t support their opinions, you can’t accept their offer or that you don’t share their excitement about something. Never feel guilty in such situations because it’s not you being “bad” here, it’s just other people lacking tolerance or imagination, if anything.
DON’T APOLOGIZE WITHOUT REASON
The ability to apologize is a characteristic of mature people. Apologizing, however, can be a weakness. You should only apologize when you are guilty of something, not because of what you think or who you are.
OBSERVE YOUR RESULTS
Being assertive is a reflexive process. There’s no one golden rule as to how become assertive once and for all. You can even start writing a diary in which you will record assertive stances you achieved with respect to relatives, friends, colleagues, and even your boss. You can assess your results periodically and see how you can improve your confidence and truthfulness. In the long run, you will see that your life became simpler, your nerves are no longer strained giving you sleepless nights, and that many among those whom you confronted genuinely appreciated your honesty.
Assertiveness is the ability to demand equal standards from other people – nothing more and nothing less. Feeling uncomfortable about intrusive, overbearing, impolite or tiring behavior on the part of others shouldn’t make you feel bad – it should make you act.