He looked just as she remembered him; self-assured, athletic and very well polished, with a slight twist in the corner of his grin. He talked with his head slightly lowered, making him look both shy and vulnerable at the same time. And she might have believed it, had he’d only stopped grinning like that.
At first, they were cordial, each trying to make a six-year reunion feel as normal as possible;How’s your mother? What ever happened to that blanket I gave you? Do you still like to eat sushi? How was grad school? And then — the grin.
Who the hell grins that much, she wondered as they walked to a cafe on the pier. Unless they’re trying to … OH. Oooooh. Her old college boyfriend left her to contemplate her options for the night while he requested a table for two by the front window. From appetizer to entree, he fumbled through premeditated jokes and old stories of their relationship, all while continuously refilling his own oversized wine glass. After his third drink, she asked if he should slow down for his drive home. “Nah, I’ll be fine,” he said. “Last one, I promise.”
Thirty minutes and two glasses later, his demeanor had fallen completely apart. “I don’t really think I can drive yet. Can we walk to your place, so I can sober up a little?” Son-of-a-bitch she thought to herself. So that’s how he planned to do this?!? Immediately, she felt angry and taken advantage of. But standing up for herself and telling him off now, could lead to a fatal car accident later on. So she placed her right hand on top of his, and extended her left over the table. “Give me your keys, then,” she said with a grin and a wink. Quickly, he obliged.
The next day she received a long text, thanking her for giving his keys to the cafe manager and letting him rest in his car. He said it is was very thoughtful of her. And that it was a real shame he was still allergic to cats, because he would have loved to have seen her new home. After scrolling through the long message, she looked around her studio apartment. There were no cats or liter boxes to be found, but neither were the remnants of a one night stand with an manipulative, old lover. For that quick, assertive decision, she felt incredibly proud of herself. And adding him to her blocked caller list was just icing on the cake.
Being Assertive vs Being Pushy
Standing up for yourself is an uncomfortable game. It’s hard to know whether you’re being assertive or just flat out pushy. Mix in our need to be liked and loved by our peers and the exercise gets even more challenging. However, despite both words often having negative connotations, they are actually vital to our success and survival. And if we can learn how to use them properly, we can stand up for ourselves in a way that gains respect not distain.
But first, let’s understand the difference.
Being assertive is simply speaking with confidence about your idea — expressing what you want in a way that conveys you believe in what you’re asking for. Being pushy is being assertive without giving a damn who hears what you’re saying. It’s more of a declaration of your needs, in an unyielding manner.
Now, here’s the truth.
Being assertive works when you know what you are talking about. When your argument is researched and hard to dispute, people tend to respect it. Being pushy only works bestwhen you are helping people see the bigger and better picture. When you’re doing something for the greater good, people usually come around to understand your intentions.
Being assertive does not work when you don’t listen to feedback. Every negotiation is a dialogue… and mutual respect will always take you further than brute force. You can agree to disagree, but acknowledging the other person’s point of view makes them feel respected, and therefore more likely to find a solution that works for both of you. Being pushy is the worst when you don’t know what you are talking about, and are making a request based on your own self serving needs. This is the fastest way to lose the respect of your peers and kind of a nightmare to deal with.
If you want a raise, for instance, being well researched will give you the confidence to be assertive, rather than feeling like you’re being pushy. If people are having a hard time with your instructions, you’re probably being unreasonable or pushy about something that could change for the greater good. It all just takes some practice. But knowing the tips above will help you master balance between the two with great ease.
7 day Mirror-Mirror challenge
Mirror work is an amazing way to get your self-confidence feeling sky high. And it’s uncomfortable as hell to do. The idea is simple: you walk up to a mirror and you say a kind truth about yourself. And after you are done, you allow yourself to notice the responses that comes to mind. More often than not, you’ll say one positive sentence and hear eight-hundred reasons why your kind words aren’t true.
Mirror work is all about those eight-hundred sentences — and learning how to dwindle that number down until they eventually disappear all together. To do this challenge this week, you’ll need:
- 1. A mirror
- A notebook
- This email
- 4.A friend to do this with you (optional)
To get started, establish a place where you can do this five-minute exercise first thing in the morning. Then, read the daily affirmation below. Note the first five thoughts that come up and write them down. Repeat the affirmation, over and over again, until one or all of those five sentences feel less powerful and the affirmation feels like a real truth to you! (Making those five sentences feel obsolete is a lofty goal in a week, but if that happens, YES awesome!)
You can use the entire day to practice in every mirror you see to continue to combat those sentences. Share your progress with a friend, and talk these emotions to find both control and closure. Do this for seven days — and you will feel a huge shift in your confidence for the better. Ready to give it a try? Let’s go!
Day 1: I am a very likable person. My friends and loved ones really like me for who I am.
Day 2: I am genuinely impressed with myself. I appreciate how far I have come in my journey.
Day 3: I am someone worth listening to. My words come from a real place that is worth understanding.
Day 4: I am an intelligent and knowledgable. I have talents and skills that people respect and trust.
Day 5: My health is my love letter to myself. I treat myself with great love and respect from now on.
Day 6: I am someone worth loving. I am loved by many people because I deserve to be loved.
Day 7: I am at peace with my life. I accept where I am and I enjoy knowing that I can figure anything out from here as it comes.