Remember that song by Salt n Pepa? The one that goes, “Ahh … <inhale>, Push it”? The same one that I used to say “Bullsh*t” instead of the real lyrics? I just thought of that song today during a Leadership class I attended today.
I should start off by saying that our department is really decent about providing its supervisors and managers with continuing education classes. In fact, every month we typically have one of these all-day sessions, which is a great time for us to focus on “us” as leaders. And which is why most of us look forward to these days.
Today’s class happened to be about being assertive while not appearing pushy. (A-ha! Now you get my Salt n Pepa reference!) It’s one thing that I know I have issues with; not necessarily about the “being pushy” part, but the “being assertive” bit. You see, I know that I tend to be passive rather than assertive or aggressive. I know that I tend to be indecisive rather than authoritative. I know that I tend to lean towards keeping things harmonious rather than try to stir the pot.
Not that I mean to keep rehashing old issues … but a good example of this is how I dealt with my infertility. Especially up to the point where my SIL announced her pregnancy with my nephew, Liam. Rather than make others be subjected to how much of a failure I felt, I kept all those feelings in. I may have outwardly shown that I was okay, but in truth I was a big unhappy mess inside. Once I found out about the pregnancy, all those insecurities tore open wide … And there was nothing I could do to stop myself from openly feeling miserable.
In the same token, I know that once a particular “button” is pushed; whether it be a verbal or nonverbal action, I can go full-force into agressive mode. Which, again I don’t mean to rehash another old issue, happened to me with my SIL following the birth of my niece, Kairi. And even though I felt “better” about finally expressing everything I had ever felt about my infertility, I felt … guilty for doing it in such a manner.
Yet, for a while there … the time period between Liam and Kairi, there was a little bit of assertiveness. Perhaps I wasn’t directly assertive; because, truth be told, I never physically approached a person face-to-face about my infertility. But that assertiveness came in the form of my blog; where I was able to sort through all the emotions and insecurities I had about myself and my lack of ability to create a life. And where I was able to express these feelings in a written form.
During today’s class, I learned that most people who are not assertive feel that they are not in control of their situation. As a passive person, that lack of control comes forth in the sense of indecision. As an aggressive person, it comes forward as being forceful and emotional.
To become more “assertive” (and therefore less passive or less aggressive), one of the learning tools that we learned was to determine when the optimal time would be to have that conversation about behaviors or actions. In order to determine that optimal time, we must first determine what our worries are about having this conversation.
In order to do that, we were given instructions. First, we needed to write down all of these worries. Next we were told to eliminate any of those worries we had no control over. And finally, we were told to take those worries we had control over and ask ourselves, “How can I … ?”
That last step was key for me. It’s that one that I knew would be able to ease my discomfort in having an assertive conversation. First of all, it forces me to realize those worries I knew I couldn’t change. Secondly, it helped point out those concerns that I knew I could modify. And finally, by asking “How can I … ?”, it allows me to feel as if I was part of a solution to a problem or situation rather than appearing aggressive and dictatorial.
More important was that first step … at least to the blogger in me. That step … the one where I need to write all these worries down … helped confirm that what I had been doing has been helpful in allowing me to grow in assertiveness. Because blogging about my frustrations and anger and jealousy; it allows me to vent when I need to vent and cry when I need to cry, without having all those emotions build up … until I take out my aggressions in an unhealthy manner.
I hope that this little tidbit of information helps other bloggers also feel justified in wearing their heart on their sleeves, whenever writing about their emotions. And I also hope that those non–blogger readers of mine find that what I write in my blog … well, sometimes they are things that I can’t say in my real world. You know, the one where I’m still learning not to be so passive …
It’s official. I’m pass the halfway mark for my 40 day Lenten promise of paying it forward. Today is Day 21! So let’s get it started …
Good Deed of the Day: Since our leadership class finished up early today, we were able to leave work about an hour earlier than usual. One of my co-workers needed to take a commuter train to her suburban Chicago home, but unfortunately she was between trains on the schedule. Rather than have her walk all the way to the train station on her own (as she tends to either take a bus or walk with other coworkers who were still up on the floor working), we both took advantage of a beautiful Chicago afternoon and walked it. This, however, is the same co-worker who has not been in her best health and became short-of-breath rather easily. So rather than have her keep up to my (already) slow pace, I took it even a pace slower … and tried to do most of the talking, so that she didn’t have to walk and talk at the same time. Even though this is something I would have naturally done for any patient I take care of, I find this one even more satisfying because I knew that I was killing two birds with one stone: I got her to exercise a bit so that she’d continue to gain strength. And I got her to the train station in a safe manner.
Gratitude of the Day: Even though I know that these leadership clases tend to take us away from our daily duties at work, I am so grateful that we get this “perk.” Because I tell ya … every time I go to one of these, I come back with great nuggets of information.