It's a common theme in my life that I'm too passive to react to negative situations that people place upon me; indeed, it is a daily occurrence and I am oft filled with regret for not speaking my mind. The background is as follows:
To be short, it isn't so much that I'm weak in my compliance, but that my reluctance isn't a part of me. I find myself being too nice to people and gain nothing from it. What is the point of being nice to others when it only becomes a detriment? How can I go about being assertive while maintaining a passive politeness about me? It would probably be easier just to beat someone with a stick and use that as an example for others, but I'm not allowed to do that.
So, what is a tactful approach to these situations?
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It is possible to be polite to people without being a doormat (and without using a stick LOL). Your question, “How can I go about being assertive while maintaining a passive politeness about me?” is phrased somewhat incorrectly. "Polite" doesn’t have to be used in conjunction with "passive." Indeed, you can be very assertive while also being polite, such as, “I really enjoy your company, but when we go out to dinner together tonight I must insist we go Dutch. Everyone will pay for his or her own meal.” Or, “It helps that you take out the trash and make your bed, but if we’re going to be roommates we have to split the chores 50/50. Otherwise, I think we need to find new roommates. And you can yell all you want, but volume alone doesn’t win an argument. You know I’m right about this, so do your share and I promise to do mine.”
You don’t have to raise your voice, you don’t have to use swear words, just explain in simple, clear terms what your position is and don’t waiver. In fact, asserting your position in a calm, cool, and collected manner is much more effective than yelling; if done properly, it can even be a bit intimidating (evil chuckles).
If your current friends only want to be with you when you are paying, and if you refuse to pay and they leave you, then that is the very definition of “users.” You know this, and I know this. It is, frankly, better to be alone than to be around people who just want you for your money. You need to have enough self-respect to see this, and I think you do.
Work situations are a little different from friendships, of course. If your boss tells you to do something, you had better do it unless you have a darn good reason not to, like you just got hit by a bus. On the other hand, if you have a better way of doing something to get a goal accomplished for the company, you should propose it to your boss, which would hopefully impress him or her that you are trying to do what is best for the company and are showing initiative.
I’m not sure what you mean when you say “it isn't so much that I'm weak in my compliance, but that my reluctance isn't a part of me.” I’m sorry, but that makes no sense to Papabear. You are, in fact, being weak by letting people walk all over you, and your reluctance to say “no” is part of you at this current time, so the statement rings untrue to this bruin’s ears.
Now a part of your problem might be in how you try to stand up for yourself. You might be strong in your words, such as “No, I don’t want to pay for your meal,” but if you say it in a very soft, timid voice with your shoulders hunched and your eyes looking at your shoelaces, it won’t come off strong at all. Body language is very important in communication and can send a message 180 degrees the opposite of the words that come out of your mouth.
If this is the case, you might benefit from a very famous book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. A lot of what the late Carnegie says in his book seems pretty common sense, but many people don’t realize some very basic facts about dealing with people. I think you might benefit from it, and you could probably even borrow a copy from your local library so you don’t have to buy one.
I hope this helps. Feel free to write again if you have more questions. Good luck!
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