If you’re uncomfortable being assertive you might need to rethink what assertive really looks like.
One of the stereotypes of masculinity seems to hold that men are naturally assertive. I find that a lot of guys are actually uncomfortable being assertive because they have a misconception about what assertiveness really is.
No matter how uncomfortable it may seem at first, learning to ask for what you want is an absolutely essential skill you must acquire. Your goals and dreams depend on it. I’m not talking about being a jerk, or being pushy, or even anything remotely close to being the kind of person who never takes no for an answer. Some people encourage adopting that sort of pushy approach. I don’t. That’s what a lot of people refer to as being assertive, but I think it’s a recipe for long term disaster.
I would much rather you be the type of person others want to be around and actually like. And trust me, if you’re seen as overbearing people won’t enjoy having you around. So while you might get your way from time to time from adopting that approach to life I would much rather see you take a more balanced one. That is, to be assertive, while practicing tact. If you’re wondering how best to use tact, here’s a definition to keep in mind — “tact: a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.” Like a great trapeze artist, you’ll balance between being willing to ask for and go after the things you want in life, while at the same time not making others feel put out or run over.
It takes more than just being the most talented or qualified.
Fair or not the most talented or qualified people don’t always get the job. The same is true in a number of different scenarios. Have you ever heard anyone say, “What does that girl or guy see in that person?” And then go on to recount how, in their own mind, how they have so much more to offer. The fact is, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans how much “better” a catch you may be, because that person is with the person they chose, and it pretty much comes down to the fact that they had the courage to introduce themselves and go from there.
The same is true in professional settings. Perhaps you or someone you know has had a time where you thought the wrong person, or less qualified person, got the promotion for a particular job. Or perhaps someone with a lesser product or service solution than yours beat you out and earned the business of the prospect you were trying to sell to. Very often the difference is in the level at which the other person was able to reach out and go after what they wanted. Again, I’m not talking about being pushy, but rather being persistent and using the right amount of follow up. We know that follow up is essential, yet how often do we simply give up on the things we want in life because we don’t get them on the first go round. A lot more than should be the case!
The fact is sometimes circumstances can change and suddenly what once wasn’t a good fit now would be perfect. If we aren’t willing to follow-up on such situations we are going to miss out and be left wondering “what if?” Instead of having to wonder doesn’t it make sense to just ask instead? Of course it does. The best part is that while it may be uncomfortable at first, as you practice the tactful art of assertiveness you’ll get better at it, and it will become very easy. That may seem impossible to you now, but test me, and before you know it you will see the vast difference it makes. You’ll see greater opportunities coming your way. In some cases you will find that it wasn’t that they weren’t coming your way before as much as that you were not open to them, and as a result didn’t even see the ones right in front of you.
Life becomes a whole lot more fulfilling when we say yes to the life experiences which present themselves. Life is a thing meant to be lived. Not blocked off and huddled down always saying no to things. Solitude and loneliness is something we grow into, just as leading an exciting and full life is. We grow into either of those, I believe based on our willingness to either say yes or no to the things which come our way.
For example, I didn’t grow up encouraged to start working with computers. When I was very young we did have an old apple computer, but the green screen didn’t entice me and I don’t recall spending much time at all on it. Anyway, flash forward many years later and in my late teens I got a wild hair that I wanted to get a computer. I knew very little about them (a far stretch from where I am now). So I ended up buying my first computer myself. It was very outdated. Yet, the frustration of having bought a “dud” ended up driving me to learn the inner workings of computers. Funny how that happens isn’t it?
Several years later I ended up buying into a local computer retail store and Internet Provider. After getting out of that business and while looking for my next adventure I started doing a bit of computer tutoring and service work, then I ended up starting what has now become GetMotivation.com — and is where the bulk of my professional life has been spent. The point is just because you may not see yourself as deserving, or knowledgeable enough in a given area at the moment doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for it anyway. It is very likely that you are drawn to whatever it is for a reason and if you’ll give it a try you will find that you’re more than capable of making it a reality in your life. Give it a try!
Another example that comes to mind is one I bet lots of people can identify with. Perhaps you can too? I remember in high school I used to have a big crush on this girl. However I never ended up asking her out. Many years later we ended up getting to know each other better and the conversation came up where she asked why I had never asked her out. It turned out she’d felt the same way at one point during high school. What a wasted opportunity. I bet if you look back on your life you can think of at least one or two similar examples right? We all can.
My point here isn’t to make you reminisce about the one that got away, but rather to realize that doesn’t have to continue to be your reality. In fact, it isn’t even about what the other person’s decision is as much as that we are willing to go for it.
I love that old saying by Wayne Gretzky which says, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Really think about it, and going forward commit to being more assertive in areas where doing so will serve you in a positive way.
Remember to practice tact, don’t be a jerk, but do make assertiveness work for you. In doing so you are sure to see your day to day life open up and begin seeing things change for the better.
It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG