Friday, May 29, 2009

How to Be an Assertive Woman

I am so disappointed in women and their lack of assertiveness. I am constantly hearing the same conversation: You tell a man he's an ass hole and he tells you you're an ass hole too. Then you go grab a beer together. You tell a woman she's an ass hole and she doesn't talk to you for three weeks. And she tells all of her friends what a bitch you are. And what nerve you have!

So I was at the dog park after work, having this very conversation with a dog owner. Do I know her? No. But, she wanted to vent about work. And how she was in a very important meeting this week and she spoke her mind and since then, she has felt humiliated. And I told her that no woman is going to make a difference if she doesn't speak her mind. That is the truth. And then I thought about that awesome bumper sticker. You know the one that says, "Well-behaved women rarely make history". Ain't that the truth? This woman happens to be an attorney and she has so much pride in the fact that she is a semi-public figure and she loathes her job but refuses to give up. There are a lot of politics involved in what she does. But if she smiles and nods her head, changes will never be made.

Do you think Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Condi, Sandra Day O'Connor or the latest trailblazer, Sotomayor made a difference without being assertive? Do you think that they went behind their friends' backs to complain about petty garbage that was bothering them? You cannot succeed in many aspects of life working that way. I can assure you that if Sotomayor is not happy about a situation, she lets you know. And how dare you call her a bitch. What is this all about? Is Bush an ass hole for declaring war on Iraq? No. But I bet Hillary is a bitch for her foreign policy. Give me a break, people!

So how do you become more assertive? The best advice I can give you is that you must be comfortable with it. And there is a difference between being dramatic and being assertive. And men can me dramatic, too. Here is an example of being assertive:

"You are going to have to stop calling me all weekend. I have a life, and I prefer to not be called throughout my weekend."

Here is an example of not being assertive:

"No! Feel free to call me on a Saturday! It's no problem!" (Then you hang up and start complaining to whoever listens about how your weekend is ruined).

And finally, an example of a dramatic person:

"You have to stop calling me every weekend. This is ridiculous. I have a life!" (Dramatic people tend to use large adjectives. Specifically people from Long Island).

If you feel like you aren't "saying it like it is," then you probably are not assertive.

When my boyfriend's family pointed out that we both come from divorced families and suggested the research on couples with that type of background, I was assertive. I looked them straight in the eye and blurted out, "Yeah, there is research on that.... He doesn't..... think!" Oh my God - I just said it. I had never even met some of them before. But I wasn't going to sugar coat it. And it felt right. And we all had a good laugh. Even the two year old nephew. He started cracking up because we were all laughing. It wasn't a nice thing to say at all, though. But I thought they should know that their son/brother is a little bit of a disaster. Do I care if they hate me for saying it? Ummm... not really.

Because you have to remember that well behaved women rarely make a difference...


  1. Great post! Thank you for saying it.

    Kate LaFrance

  2. Great post! Thanks for saying it.

    Kate LaFrance

  3. I like this post. Some people just can't handle an assertive woman--they might call us aggressive, but I maintain that we are simply assertive and know what we want.

  4. I like this post Janie. Some people just can't handle an assertive woman. They might call us aggressive, but really, we just know what we want and we're not afraid to stand up for ourselves.