You Say Aggressive, I say Assertive

Cold, ruthless, harsh. That’s the image that came to mind when I saw this week’s word, Assertive.
Mass media hasn’t been charitable to women who are assertive. (Just look at the picture above, and this was one of the closest matches of the word I could find.) It appears that TV, newspapers, and magazines don’t know the definition. Heck, I didn’t know the real definition. Regrettably, too many times I allow mass media to influence my behavior and thinking. And, their definition of words.
Ah, but that’s slowly fading away.
In this Twitter world of instant communication, I’m taking time to learn the true meaning of words so I can communicate more effectively. By the way, don’t be fooled by “instant” communication, much of it is well planned.
When I discovered — through many hours of intense research (aka: surfing the web), of finding the real definition of Assertive, I discovered that I was confusing it with Aggressive.
I learned two excellent definitions of Assertive that I love and am going to work on incorporating into my life from this day forward. They are:
Assertive is about being confident in standing up for yourself and your beliefs while maintaining respectfor others. I urge you to take a look at this link, Claire Evans has some great communications tips.
Assertive: Behaving confidently and able to say in a direct way what you want or believe.
What a wonderful word and way to behave! Too bad it’s confused with aggression. Too bad I wasted time confusing the two words and reverting to being “ladylike.”
There are tons of web sites, geared to both men and women about how to be more assertive. There’re even medical studies (one by the famousMayo Clinic), that shows being more assertive leads to lower stress levels.
It all comes down to clear communication. I know that when I’m clearer in my communication — like when I order a venti green ice tea NOT sweetened, I get what I want. When I am not paying attention and don’t include the NOT sweetened, I usually don’t get what I want.

I also practice this in my workl-life. Though I’m better at being assertive on behalf of others, I now vow to be assertive on my own behalf. Which means I have to up my game on clearer communication. Why, or why do my communication skills fumble and my brain scramble?

Somewhere (and I suspect I know where) I was taught not to ask for what I want; I was taught to please. Oy, has that caused me a lot of problems, confusion and stress. As well as way too many over-sweetened beverages.

So, I am starting to be assertive by baby-steps. When I mis-order or get what I don’t want, I’ll politely point out that isn’t what I ordered and be clearer of what I want.  Simple. I will also not simmer with a low lever of anger that I never get what I want. Because, I am taking action to communicate in a more clear, thoughtful way.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I had a hard time finding a great picture that really depicted the word Assertive. Can you help?  Send me some pictures that more accurately portray the true meaning of Assertive and I will post them!
Assertive, enjoy the Beauty of the Word.

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