I was thumbing through the class listings at our local community College this morning. Took me back in time to a class I attended just after we moved back to Iowa from the East Coast.
I’d done some trim work for a young stewardess shortly before we moved and she owed me about $200. I’d called her a couple of times asking if she would send me a check before we relocated…
The check never came…
Shortly after we moved back, a course on assertive communication caught my eye.
The inability to collect that bill was one small example of a problem that touched multiple areas of my life.
Complicating my inability to be assertive were some erroneous ideas on how the faith component of my life applied in certain situations….
“Turn the other cheek, if someone asks for your shirt, give him your coat as well.”
And then there were verses about “dying to yourself” etc. etc.
If you’ve never run in Christian circles this stuff will probably sound far out there….but if you have, you know what I’m talking about.
Running around with half cocked ideas on what the Almighty expected of me, compounded by a people pleasing bent, and a serious case of low self esteem…
I was a walking door mat.
And I was tired of it.
There were 13 or 14 of us at the workshop. All but two were women. We covered “The Assertiveness Bill Of Rights“, we roll played, worked on handouts, we laughed. (Did lots of laughing as I recall) 😉
You’re talking about reprogramming some very deeply ingrained negative thought patterns when you address issues like this, and those changes do not happen over night.
I came home with several seeds planted in my soul knowing this stuff might take time to take root and get established .
To be assertive is not to be obnoxious nor aggressive. It is living your life with new (and more) options.
We talked about how to deal with customer service, how to recognizing when someone is manipulating you through intimidation, fear, etc.
I learned I have the right to say “No. No thank you. Thanks but no thanks.”
I have the right to change my mind.
I learned the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness which are two totally different behaviors.
They are totally different behaviors.
I had a light bulb moment when I realized someone in my life had been using aggressive, manipulative, shaming behavior for years to control me (and others) at work. And once I realized it for what it was, I was free to say “Enough!”
It took multiple confrontations before they realized their mind games no longer worked on me.
You already probably know this but just in case you need a gentle reminder…
Living in situations where you are bullied and controlled by an aggressive person can result in depression, and a host of medical issues.
A local Doctor told someone I know that the long term stress of their job was definitely aggravating their diabetes.
Another family member was told by his Dr. that their diagnosis of colon cancer was very probably connected to the stress in his life from years of dealing with an out of control teen.
Came home from that workshop, wrote a nice but firm note along with another invoice to my client in New Jersey. I thanked her for the work, but wanted her to know that from here on out, I was going to be charging her 18% interest on the unpaid balance..
I got a check the next week.