Posts Tagged ‘assertiveness’

Throughout our lives, we learn important lessons that teach us how to survive on this planet. Simple lessons, like treating others as we would like to be treated, are ingrained in us and, if we genuinely treat others well, we learn how to trust – and we learn how to detect deception.

Other things we learn come to us in moments of immediate clarity and impact us profoundly. One moment of immediate clarity came to me during a conversation between one of my male coworkers and our boss.

Until that aha moment, I had lived under the assumption that I had to ask my boss for permission to live my life. For instance, I would ask, “Would you mind if I took off a couple of days to attend my son’s graduation from boot camp?” or “Would it be OK if I took off Friday to attend my daughter’s wedding ceremony?”

In many cases, my boss would answer simply, “You can’t go. We need you here.”

But sometimes my bosses were inconsiderate, uncaring, and devious. In one of my previous jobs, before I was hired, I explained that I couldn’t work Wednesday evenings, because I had to drive my kids an hour and a half north for their allergy shots. After I was hired, my boss scheduled me for every Wednesday evening and when I asked her if she could change the schedule to the agreed-upon schedule we made before she hired me, she responded, “I’m challenging you to find an alternative.” And then she left for a two week vacation.*

So when, at a different job, I heard the conversation between my coworker and my boss, I learned instantly how to talk to any boss. Instead of asking – would you mind – can I – may I – would it be OK, I learned that declaring my intentions was far more effective.

What this coworker said was to our boss was, “I need to take Friday off, so I won’t be in that day.” How did my boss respond? She said, “Oh, OK,” and she returned to her office.

From that point on, I decided to try the same approach when dealing with any boss I encountered. I never again asked permission for anything. Rather than dealing with issues aggressively (demanding time off, for instance), I merely stated what I would be doing and left it at that.

And it worked! So bottom line: Stop asking permission! Assert yourself – without aggression. It’s your life. Live it!

*I found an alternative – a different job!