As I’ve come to terms with just how bad I was at communicating when I was young, I’ve been forced to look at which internal resources I needed to make my voice heard and make situations less difficult to live with. Near the top of the list must certainly be assertiveness, a tool we all use to one extent or another in daily life and one that forms the clarity we need to prevent more than a handful of social disasters.
It’s a great antidote to its close cousin, aggression. We’re in a society that ties us up in taboos and profanities, in contexts and cultural sensitivities and there’s a pressure to get it right. Pushing the other way, however, is a need to cut through the bullshit.
How many good situations and honest relations have given their lives to not getting the balance right?
Assertion helps in this regard because it’s an admission that you want something out of a person or a situation but not that you’re going to take it at the expensive of being horrible to them. In fact, it’s a mercy, the most commonplace the need for this internal resource to crop up is probably in relating to your other half – or even just communicating with them basically.
Just think of how often loving relationships devolve into arguments about where to eat or which Christmas present went down best or if the in-laws approved of that contravention of their strict dress code. It’s important to nip that in the bud, to be assertive and to demonstrate the trust and intimacy with sharing what it is you want in life with your nearest and dearest. Or you could just bottle it up and wind up with a KFC Bargain Bucket when you wanted traditional Italian.
I think there’s still probably good ways to go before this level of assertion in discourse makes it way down to our personal relationships from our work and work relationships. In the world of competitive employment, it’s arguably even more essential. For sure, the sheer efficiency of some of the conversations I had (or knew I was going to have) over the course of my work life, defined the woman that I present in situations today.
Again, I was always careful to be sure that I never relied on aggression, just clarity, something that was hard to achieve considering my condition. But I pushed to achieve the use of this internal resource because of its excellent utility as a translation tool. When we achieve this little burst of pragmatism we do away with difficult contexts and degrees of separation like sex and rank and even race. Even men being from Mars and women from Venus is no longer insurmountable.
So the next time an opportunity arise to make it clear what you want out of life, keep your head held high and your hackles down. Assertion is powerful enough coming from someone that.