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?