Being Assertive: An Overlooked Path to Happiness

FEBRUARY 18, 2015

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Confrontational, self-assured, and strong-willed.

Three adjectives used to describe a highly successful career woman….or synonymous with raging bitch? You decide.

The problem lies in the fact that women are “supposed” to be agreeable, sweet, and empathetic. Of course there’s nothing wrong with these character traits, but on the other side of the spectrum we’re also told to that we have to “fight for what we want” and have a “go-getter” attitude when it comes to accomplishing our goals. That’s where the confusion hits.

Exerting assertiveness does not come easily to me. Confrontation is terrifying, and I’m always paranoid about sounding rude or entitled when sharing opinions. For this reason, I triple check with several different people on whether or not my emails are polite enough. This usually results in over-thinking and obsessing over wording, adding an excessive amount of “thank you’s” and coming off sounding like a 13-year-old expressing gratitude for meeting One Direction. Whoops.

However, being assertive is actually an important key to happiness. Many people are like me, choosing to agree amicably with others rather than opening up the potential for an argument. It’s easier to stick with the current way of doing things rather than fight, right? However, does that mean we should stick with a job where we’re treated horribly, just because it’s easier than taking a stand and appearing rude or domineering? Should we settle for a relationship that we’ve clearly put more investment and effort into than our partner has, just because we don’t want to be alone?

The problem lies in the fact that many are worried that being assertive always translates to aggression and negativity. Nobody wants to potentially compromise their reputation as a nice person, but is that the price we have to pay to get what we want and feel we deserve?

What do you think?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments as I navigate the tricky assertiveness landscape.

 

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3 COMMENTS

  • Interesting read, I can certainly relate to this story. As a young girl I was always so busy with being nice and agreeable, I realized I had started to become a doormat. Since then, I grew more and more assertive. Of course I do not wish to offend anyone but you can be assertive without being aggresive or unpolite and I like that the article adresses this. One thing that always helped me to be and remain assertive, is the realization that I live my life for myself, not to please anyone else. Ironically, one of the biggest regrets people have on their deathbeds, was living the life everyone else wanted them to live, not the life they would choose for themselves. Currently, I am a pychology student and everywhere I look, I see fellow female students who aren’t assertive, have no confidence and appear to think rather low of themselves. I usually am sympathetic to them but I realize that it has started to bother me as well because it is getting harder for me to take them seriously, especially in a workspace environment. After all, if they do not stick up for themselves, others do not have that tendency either. Being nice does not equal to always agreeing to everything, even if you want to take a stand and I wish my fellow students would realize that. I can understand it’s easier go with the flow than to fight but always accepting everything instead of taking a stand once in a while, causes so many people not to reach their full potential, which saddens me. Besides, many of the people who realy made a change in this world and known to be very inspirational, are the ones who are assertive and dare to take a stand. How come we do not view them in a negative way but allow ourselves to be crippeled by fear of being seen as a bitch when we have similar character traits?

    • Thanks for the feedback! I really like your point about successful people and their willingness to take a stand and exert assertiveness. Definitely something to pay attention to!

  • I loved your post! This is so true! As a woman we have to walk a very fine line between being a “boss bitch” or a “bitch boss”. Men don’t worry about if their assertiveness comes across as rude. They do what they need to, to get things done. This can also be a struggle for me, I want to be liked but I also want to be respected. Great post! Do you have a website or blog?
    I launched my site last week http://www.allthethingsido.com/