Middle way = GOLDEN way

From returning a faulty good you’ve purchased to the store through to managing to save your job, in spite of a mistake you have made, you need to know how to be ASSERTIVE. Maybe you have come across this word before or not, maybe you have enacted this behaviour before or not, but what is guaranteed is that you realised the need of being assertive at least once in your life, whether in your mind you associated the term with the situation or not.

I find it easier to understand something when it’s exemplified, and in my years of sharing opinions with people, I found that most people do, so here goes…

On a daily basis we are confronted with situations which require assertiveness, like dealing with someone who is cutting off in front of us while we’re waiting in a queue. How do you deal with that? Do you start shouting at the person or just sit quietly in your spot waiting for someone else to take action? The two are ways in which people react every day, I have seen it numerous times, seen as I worked as a fashion adviser myself for a while and encountered this kind of situations when I was behind the till. In both cases (either shouting or hiding behind someone else who is willing to shout), at least one of the two people involved in such a confrontation will get frustrated. It will be either the person who cut into the queue (sometimes without realising) or the person who has to wait an extra few minutes for the person who cut in to be served. Maybe the person who went in front didn’t realise someone else was waiting in the queue, because the queuing system is not very clear, and he’s being shouted at for no reason. What is even worse is the situation can quickly escalate, with other people getting involved etc.

How should this situation be dealt with? Telling the person who cut in: ‘Sorry, there’s a queue’ in a confident manner, but with a smile could solve the situation. This is being assertive. Simple as that. Standing up for yourself without being aggressive. This is what people need to learn in order to be successful in their day to day life, where they do get confronted with situations which could lead to conflict. Would that make the world a better place? Guarantee there are no more wars in the world? Probably not yet. But it’s a good start to stop the wars in every person’s life over small matters which could be resolved through being ASSERTIVE.

Now here comes the debatable part, which has made the subject of academic and empiric research, as well as headlines of blogs, newspaper or magazine articles, etc.: Is being assertive dependent on gender? More precisely, do women know how to be assertive, while men act aggressively or passively in any given conflict situation?  Or is it just a matter of education and experience and not necessarily gender?


5 comments on “Middle way = GOLDEN way

  1. I do think being assertive can be helpful in any situation. I also do think this is common sense, but then again, common sense is not that common nowadays. And even if it’s easier to act aggressively or just not say anything, as you mentioned, this will just lead to people storing anger that will burst in the most inappropriate moment. I think it’s easy to make people understand what assertiveness is and how to enact this behaviour. But the hard bit is not this, is making people understand they need to learn this. And I think giving them day to day examples as the one you gave is helpful, because as long as they can relate to something, they will understand easier. Also, i don’t consider gender as an influential factor. I think it’s all about the way you’ve been raised, what kind of education you have had and how you have learned to solve your issues.

    • Thank you very much for your comment. I will be honest here, I realise the meaning of being assertive and need to enact this behaviour because I was lucky enough to have this information revealed and explained to me as part of my course. Obviously the majority of people are oblivious to what being assertive means. I think using big words won’t help either. But everybody wants to avoid conflict, but more often than not, they chose to ignore it, and as you said this can lead to latter effects, when the anger will burst. Making people understand they can avoid conflict without jeopardising their own freedom of expressing themselves is the way forward. Once again, thank you very much for your time and attention.

  2. I believe that gender is not relevant in a conflict situation, even if many people say that when it comes to complaints they deal better with men, rather that women. I believe that it depends on the education and experience as well. You learn to be assertive in time. I remember that I used to be a very impulsive person, but after a while you notice that there is a middle way to deal with things…a better way…a collaborative way.

    • I completely agree with your statement. I do consider that being impulsive can lead to a situation escalating and I have seen many situations when a small thing has been turned into a big thing for no real reason, just because people reacted inappropriately.

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