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The Melody of Assertiveness

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Find Assertiveness Between Passivity and Aggression

Following the tumultuous waves of the Great Resignation—or the “Great Reshuffle,” as it’s come to be known—many of us have challenged the idea of what is against what can be. Maybe we’ve had to negotiate a raise, or a job offer—or maybe we’ve had to express our needs to those in our personal lives. Regardless of the nature of the exchange, our needs will remain eternally unfulfilled lest we express them with a jolt of assertiveness.

But what is assertiveness? To many, being assertive is no different than being confident. To others, assertiveness is akin to aggressiveness. The truth lies somewhere in between the two—a graceful melody of confidence intertwined with notes of compassion.

Sarah Landrum, Marketing Specialist and creator of the career advice blog Punched Clocks, identifies ten steps for projecting confidence. Woven throughout each step is a note of assertive behavior—such as deliberate intonation to express needs as statements rather than as questions.

While assertiveness might border on aggression, it does not trespass over that fine line. Likewise, it does not ride a decrescendo into passivity. To pursue our needs, we must be aware of our non-negotiables when contemplating salary, schedules, and family time. As the proverb goes, “Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” The Great Reshuffle paved the way to a new world of work—one where it’s suddenly possible to avoid the pitfalls of burnout and being spread too thin over too much.

This video from The Distilled Man, a site dedicated to self-improvement, emphasizes the importance of harmoniously balancing our needs with those of others. Focus on our needs but with compassion for another’s. Level our non-negotiables with flexibility. We might certainly have a minimum salary requirement or require specific time for loved ones, but there are areas wherein we can be flexible too. Don’t make everything non-negotiable. Assertiveness is a delicate balance.

Today, practice assertiveness by determining what’s important to us and to those close to us. Seek pathways towards both sets of goals in pursuit of mutual harmony while avoiding individual cacophony.

“To be passive is to let others decide for you. To be aggressive is to decide for others. To be assertive is to decide for yourself. And to trust that there is enough, that you are enough.”
– Edith Eva Eger

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

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