THE ASSERTIVE OPTION: ON BEING SEEN AND HEARD -PART 1

Remember a time when you thought you would ask for a raise at work and that "little voice" suddenly reminded you how pushy you are?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
 
Remember once when you passed an attractive person who you wanted to get to know? As you opened your mouth to talk, voice quivering, palms sweating, you suddenly thought, "What if I sound foolish and get rejected?" So, instead, you casually dropped your head and said something like, "Um, is today Wednesday?" Then walked away, blushing and raging with anger at your limitations.
 
Did you ever feel uncomfortable refusing to buy something because a salesman went through considerable effort "pitching" you?
 
Many people pass through life lacking the ability to effectively express thoughts and feelings that would allow them more choices. In recent decades, to learn to do so has popularly been called, "Assertiveness Training."
 
At first, in the late '70's, it was a popular craze, a panacea-- everyone needed assertiveness training! Hordes of people signed up to learn, then went out into the world waiting for someone to cut in front of them in line; or serve them cold soup, so they could use their new skills.
 
Today, however, it is more appropriately termed, the "assertive option", reflecting the idea that it is a choice of tool to be used in appropriate contexts and not others. You would not, for example, wish to be assertive with someone holding a gun at your back; your spouse after having forgotten an important mutual engagement, or with a boss in an angry mood. However, used appropriately, the assertive option can be useful in helping you express both positively and negatively in order to obtain the outcomes you want; and prevent others from taking advantage of you. It is an honest expression of your thoughts and feelings; the opposite of "inhibition." It means letting things out instead of keeping them bottled up inside.
 
Using the following checklist, rate your "assertiveness" by answering, "yes" or "no", to the following questions: ____1. I have hesitated to make dates because of shyness. Feeling stupid. ____3. When food served at a restaurant is not done to my satisfaction, I avoid complaining about it to the waiter. know what to say, often. ____6. When I am asked to do something, I rarely ask, "why." ____7. I am careful to avoid hurting other people's feelings, even when I believe I have been offended. ____8. I find it embarrassing to return merchandise. ____9. I avoid debating prices with salesmen, even if they are unusually high. ___10. I rarely express my true feelings in public
 
If most of your answers were, "yes", you may wish to consider becoming more assertive. One useful model of assertiveness has four parts: (a) Being able to ask for something; (b) Being able to deny something for which someone else has asked; (c) Being able to express negative feelings when you are unhappy with something or someone and, (d) Being able to express positive feelings when you are pleased by something or someone.
 
Considering these components of assertive behavior, perhaps you can remember specific occasions in which you were not able to respond effectively. The assertive option is a series of skills that require some practice. Next, I will provide some suggestions for achieving those assertive skills.