Friday, September 14, 2007

Assertiveness 101

IN THE NEWS: According to World Magazine, a mom in Cincinnati delivered triplets in 2003 then last year decided to try for just one more child. Voila! On Aug 29, they got THREE more. Both sets of triplets were conceived NATURALLY. According to the medical director of the institute for Reproductive Health in Cincinnati, the odds of delivering two sets of naturally conceived triplets are about 1 in 64 million.

I'm not a person who stands up for herself. Some people who know me personally may be shocked, but it's true. Sometimes I just feel bad saying anything because I don't want to inconvenience anyone, so I keep quiet. But then I don't get what I want and then I feel bad anyway. So really, it's a lose, lose situation.

Take for instance, this "chicken" episode I dealt with this past weekend:

I'm at a Wildwood amusement park. The weather is beautiful and we're at a picnic before we go into the water park. Ya with me? OK.

We're in line for food. There's hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken. My hubby is in front of me, gets a cheeseburger on his plate and asks for some chicken. The server gives him this great looking thigh piece. (Probably way too big for a person who has a cheeseburger already on his plate, but I didn't say anything.) Now, I have a hot dog on my plate (for my daughter), so I want some chicken for myself. I then ask for a piece of chicken. The server took one look at me and started digging around for the smallest, sickliest looking piece she could find and puts it on my plate. So, I frown and walk away to fill up on potato salad.

Now, we're sitting down and eating. Despite the chicken looking like it had been run over a few times, it was absolutely delicious. So delicious, I wanted to dump the potato salad I had gotten to fill up on and get some more chicken. I tell my hubby this. He asked, "If you're getting up, could you bring me back another piece of chicken, too?"

I get back in line. This time I tried a friendlier smile to the server and asked for two pieces of chicken. She looks down again, finds the SMALLEST drumsticks she could find--probably belonged to some dwarf chicken--and plops them on my plate. My mouth hung open, but I quickly shut it and slinked away with my tail between my legs. When I got back to the table, I flung the plate next to my hubby and cried, "Look, that woman hates me! "

My hubby had no sympathy for my chicken plight. "Did you say, 'Could I have a bigger piece of chicken?'" he asked me.

I blinked. Hmm. Well, no.

He then goes on to list on his finger the various women we know in town who would have stood up for themselves and gotten what they wanted, which made me laugh--and also feel terrible. I realize I'm a wuss, and I DO need to stand up for myself more.

Asking for what I want. Hmm. An interesting concept.

Are you assertive?


Chicki said...

Funny story! I'm pretty vocal when it comes to my food. :)

In general, I don't know if I'm more assertive than I used to be. It depends on the issue. My priorities have changed over the years, and sometimes I don't bother because I think it's just not worth the aggravation. Like with DH, for instance. I spent years (no decades) crying over stuff I finally realized I just couldn't change, so I stopped freaking myself out over those things.

Kristen Painter said...

I'm probably too assertive for my own good. As a kid, I once dragged my younger (and only) brother back to the ice cream store to demand they give him a serving equal in size to mine.

If I'd been in line with you, you would have had a bigger piece.

Patricia W. said...

Depends on the situation. I've pulled back in being aggressive, not assertive, when I'm unhappy about something, like bad customer service. I still respond, just not in such an ugly way.

I'm learning to be more assertive about what I want, when it's a non-confrontational situation.

Erica Orloff said...

Interesting post. (Followed you here from Lainey's blog.)

In my younger days, I would have not only stood up for myself--I would have been aggressive about it (vs. assertive). I would have definitely seen a slight--whether it was intended or not. And then I would have been ugly about it (all right, maybe not about CHICKEN, but I met my husband by throwing a steak at his head in a restaurant--he was the chef, I was the bartender whose customer's meal he overcooked).

Then I became a Buddhist. I try to be more zen, to see things not as slights but . . . as people doing their best. I am a lot more patient, and I've learned to let things go. THAT said, I can now just simply state my case, instead of fighting. It's not emotional . . . just a "this is how I see things."

And your husband is likely right, in some ways. Men often see bringing things up as no big deal. It's just chicken. ;-)


MaryF said...

Honey, I'm right there with you! I let people walk all over me.

Stephanie said...

Unfortunately, I'm unassertive, too and I hate that about me! I mean, when it comes to my kids or my hubby I'll do it, but if it's something I want I tend to let it pass. I'm just a blip on the face of humanity. No one cares what I want. ;o) Except, of course, me, so it SHOULD matter.

Babe King said...

Yup. I hear you. Thing is, most people will stomp all over you for that. I am learning (mostly under Kristen's tutorledge) to ask for what I want. I cuts across the grain, but you have to learn how. (((hugs))) from someone who has often been given the smallest piece of chicken. :-)