Learn to be assertive, but not aggresive

From Elaina: I was at the mall with my daughters the other day. One of them was trying to get a watch repair. The owner of the watch repair place started haggling with her. He started with a high sum, then took it down iota by iota until my daughter got caught up in it and ended up paying as much money for the repair as the whole watch cost. We walked away from the stand for them to do the repair. I told her that we didn’t have to go back. She could just leave the watch there and buy a new one. Both of my kids were horrified. They said it would be rude to not go back. My youngest has been disgruntled by this for a while. She feels bad when we tell a salesperson that we are going to walk around for a little bit and come back to buy. She feels slightly obligated because it is rude if we said we would come back, but don’t.

I came home and decided that I have failed somewhere. I’ve been trying so hard to teach my kids to have love and compassion, to show kindness to all, that I have failed to teach them the difference between being assertive and being aggressive. To be honest, I’m not sure that I am great at seeing the difference. I’m pretty sure I suck at being assertive. I have a soft, tender heart. I hate conflict of any kind. My anxiety does not even allow me to enjoy dramatic TV or movies. The problem is, I will have two girls at college soon. They need to know that there are people out there that would take advantage of them. It is not only okay, but necessary, for us to stand up for ourselves. Being assertive for your needs is an essential form of self care. If we fail to love ourselves, how can we have enough to love others?

There is a big difference in being assertive versus being aggressive. Being assertive is being you own advocate. It is giving yourself the same consideration you would to people you love. Being aggressive can have a little bit of mean in it. It is trying to stamp out the other person’s position. I hope to both learn and teach how to be assertive and kind at the same time.

2 thoughts on “Learn to be assertive, but not aggresive

  1. My thoughts: I think there’s an element of fear/anger in being aggressive. It’s pushing. Being assertive is standing your ground. That can be done without pushing. It’s like the difference between saying no clearly and calmly firmly and shouting no way ever!
    Maybe it’s the element of dishonesty in saying I’ll be back instead of saying no thank you and then leaving that bothers her.
    (It’s a learning process to understand the difference. And “no” doesn’t have to be rude. )


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