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 Post subject: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 4:11 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:44 pm
Posts: 31
My boss recently paid for me to go to a week long long leadership retreat, focused on becoming a better facilitator. I was at the retreat with folks almost twice mt age, I'm 29. I currently work as an organizational development consultant and do a lot of training around change management and leadership development. My boss is a great facilitator and said she learned almost everything from this retreat so I was excited to go.

Anyway, I had a really bad experience there. All the participants at the retreat paired up with another person to design a meeting for each other over the course of the week. We only had 20 mins to do it and the actual people who were leading the retreat were there to help and encourage every team. When it was my turn to present the leaders spoke through my presentation, kept making rude comments like "why r we doing this" and at one point yelled profanities. They did not do this for any other group and my partner and I never got to finish our design. In fact all the other people who were participating were as confused as I was as to why they were so unsupportive and crested an unsafe environment for us. I took the blunt of it as I was speaking at the time, and my partner got very uncomfortable.

Anyway I left feeling very unsettled. They apologized for their behavior but I do feel like this is not the first time this has happened to me. I look very young and sweet and I'm quiet by nature and I do feel prone to being taken advantage of. I've come to the conclusion that I need to learn to be more assertive. Does anyone have any tips?


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:02 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2014 3:40 pm
Posts: 3
Location: United Kingdom
I can honestly relate to this situation right here. On many occasions I've left certain places feeling like I should have been more assertive and stuck up for myself a bit more. My partner used to tell me all the time I have to be more assertive but it felt alien to my nature.

The only advice I can offer that helped me is practice asking for exactly what you want, every day and don't be afraid of the answer. A 'No' only leaves you in the same position you are in now. A 'Yes' builds your confidence and reinforces the fact that you have nothing to fear. Just remember the feeling you felt after you left that retreat and had time to reflect on that whole situation. Realise you never want to feel that again and make a promise to yourself that the next time you are put in a similar situation, you will stick up for yourself


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 2:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:44 pm
Posts: 31
Thanks for responding jpelts. I think you are right and i need to practice more. One thing is for certain is that I don't want to feel the way I felt at the retreat again. My small appearance also does not help, and I look much younger than I am. I had a frank conversation with my boss and she suggested that I change my work attire as well, and wear more jackets instead of sweaters which i intend to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 12:00 pm
Posts: 1
One thing is for sure is that I would prefer not to feel the way I felt at the retreat once more. My little appearance likewise does not help, and I look much more youthful than I am.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 1:05 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1302
newb wrote:
My boss recently paid for me to go to a week long long leadership retreat, focused on becoming a better facilitator. I was at the retreat with folks almost twice mt age, I'm 29. I currently work as an organizational development consultant and do a lot of training around change management and leadership development. My boss is a great facilitator and said she learned almost everything from this retreat so I was excited to go.

Anyway, I had a really bad experience there. All the participants at the retreat paired up with another person to design a meeting for each other over the course of the week. We only had 20 mins to do it and the actual people who were leading the retreat were there to help and encourage every team. When it was my turn to present the leaders spoke through my presentation, kept making rude comments like "why r we doing this" and at one point yelled profanities. They did not do this for any other group and my partner and I never got to finish our design. In fact all the other people who were participating were as confused as I was as to why they were so unsupportive and crested an unsafe environment for us. I took the blunt of it as I was speaking at the time, and my partner got very uncomfortable.

Anyway I left feeling very unsettled. They apologized for their behavior but I do feel like this is not the first time this has happened to me. I look very young and sweet and I'm quiet by nature and I do feel prone to being taken advantage of. I've come to the conclusion that I need to learn to be more assertive. Does anyone have any tips?

Regardless of what these people thought of you that was no reason to treat you that way in a room full of people at a professional event. If I would have been in that situation I woulda told them to have a cup of STFU so I could finish my presentation. A "word in private" afterwards wouldn't have been out of the question either!

With that said, if you think you're being taken advantage of then you are! It sounds like you need to be more forceful in the workplace. Speak with authority, have some pep in your step, swagger like you own the place, learn to use sarcasm without being a complete smart ass...those are ways to be more assertive & self confident without being overly aggressive. Have you ever considered things to make you look more manly? Facial hair, weight training, karate lessons, etc?


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:25 pm 

Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 8:14 pm
Posts: 2020
Tightwad wrote:
Have you ever considered things to make you look more manly? Facial hair, weight training, karate lessons, etc?

I believe that the OP is a woman. So you think that being masculine is the answer? That a woman isn't deserving of respect on her own? Assertiveness is one thing; masculinity is something else.

newb, you don't have to be anyone but yourself. Simply demand the respect to which you are entitled.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 12:20 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1302
VinTek wrote:
Tightwad wrote:
Have you ever considered things to make you look more manly? Facial hair, weight training, karate lessons, etc?

I believe that the OP is a woman. So you think that being masculine is the answer? That a woman isn't deserving of respect on her own? Assertiveness is one thing; masculinity is something else.

newb, you don't have to be anyone but yourself. Simply demand the respect to which you are entitled.

If newb is a woman...then forget the facial hair. I got the impression newb was a man but it's hard to tell sometimes.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:16 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:44 pm
Posts: 31
I'm a woman, and I look much younger than I am which makes it ten times worse, and have had people make some pretty rude comments about me being a "girl" etc., even though I'm fairly articulate, and hold my fair share at work.

I have started dressing differently (jackets instead of sweaters, pinning my hair back) which has made a difference. Maybe its help my confidence idk? But people do treat me differently when I dress differently.

I do need to learn to be more assertive, aggressive though. I've been working on standing up for myself in the moment - when I feel like I'm being taken advantage of, or taken for granted. I just wish there was some kind of class I could go to the help with this. It really is a problem for me, because its affecting me at work. People take liberties with me that they wouldn't with someone else. I've seen it first hand. My new years resolution for 2015 is to work on asserting myself more. I just have to figure out how...


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:55 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1302
newb wrote:
I'm a woman, and I look much younger than I am which makes it ten times worse, and have had people make some pretty rude comments about me being a "girl" etc., even though I'm fairly articulate, and hold my fair share at work.

I have started dressing differently (jackets instead of sweaters, pinning my hair back) which has made a difference. Maybe its help my confidence idk? But people do treat me differently when I dress differently.

I do need to learn to be more assertive, aggressive though. I've been working on standing up for myself in the moment - when I feel like I'm being taken advantage of, or taken for granted. I just wish there was some kind of class I could go to the help with this. It really is a problem for me, because its affecting me at work. People take liberties with me that they wouldn't with someone else. I've seen it first hand. My new years resolution for 2015 is to work on asserting myself more. I just have to figure out how...

Well good luck to you. It's not easy being assertive if that's not your natural tendency. At a minimum, I think you should respond to the "girl" comments with "I'm a grown woman thank you!" and put a dose of attitude in it.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:08 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:34 pm
Posts: 585
Tightwad wrote:
Well good luck to you. It's not easy being assertive if that's not your natural tendency. At a minimum, I think you should respond to the "girl" comments with "I'm a grown woman thank you!" and put a dose of attitude in it.


With all due respect, Tightwad, this is really bad advice for a woman in this type of situation. Unfortunately, we're subject to double standards in the workforce as well. We're expected to be sweet and people walk all over us. But if we "put a dose of attitude" in standing up for ourselves, or tell someone to STFU, we're labled as bitches and we lack the ability to be team players. Either outcome means we don't get the respect we deserve from our coworkers and bosses.

I had a lot of the same challenges early in my career, Newb. It doesn't help that most of my male coworkers have daughters my age (ish) and that's how they relate to me. :puke: It's great that you've seen some success with changing your wardrobe. Dressing in suits and presenting yourself with a more professional, "grown up" appearance will go a long way to help. Also, if there's a woman higher up in your organization whom you respect, you might want to consider asking her advice and developing a mentor / protoge relationship with her.

A book that helped me early in my career is Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office. It gave me lots of good, actionable tips to on how to present myself at work in a way where I wouldn't be viewed as "sweet" (gag) or a little girl, and how to assert myself in a manner that didn't get me labled as bitchy or difficult.

You're welcome to pm me if you want to discuss further.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:26 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 5:15 pm
Posts: 1302
alohabear wrote:
Tightwad wrote:
Well good luck to you. It's not easy being assertive if that's not your natural tendency. At a minimum, I think you should respond to the "girl" comments with "I'm a grown woman thank you!" and put a dose of attitude in it.


With all due respect, Tightwad, this is really bad advice for a woman in this type of situation. Unfortunately, we're subject to double standards in the workforce as well. We're expected to be sweet and people walk all over us. But if we "put a dose of attitude" in standing up for ourselves, or tell someone to STFU, we're labled as bitches and we lack the ability to be team players. Either outcome means we don't get the respect we deserve from our coworkers and bosses.

It's not bad advice...and half of it was when I thought newb was a dude! The fact of the matter is that newb really needs to start standing up for herself regardless of gender. And I've had plenty of female bosses & coworkers who had this down pat. Some went way too far & crossed over into bitchy but all had at least some measure of respect. It's not hard to be assertive but yet professional at the same time.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:34 am 

Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2014 2:20 am
Posts: 5
Location: Minden, NV
Sorry that happened, Newb, and I hope things are improving for you.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:44 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:44 pm
Posts: 31
Thanks for the advice everyone. It's really helpful to hear from people who are in similar situations. Unfortunately right now I don't have a mentor and can't think of someone in my organization that could serve as one. But I will read the book suggested, and I am actively trying to be more assertive. I am also looking for another job this year and will hopefully have a new one in the next 3-6 months.

My current work environment is not supportive or appreciative of who I am and I feel like I have to force myself everyday to be someone I am not to get noticed. While I do want to work on myself, I also think I need to find a job that is a better personal fit for me. I hope to update my post this year with good news all around about me becoming more skilled at assertiveness and a new work environment.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:02 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:14 pm
Posts: 221
I'm a bit behind the times here, but I don't think this counts as an ancient post yet, so here it goes.

I'm with you on this, Newb. I'm a female in my mid 20s in a professional environment who prefers wearing sweaters and flats. Luckily I'm in an environment where I'm not quite as patronized as you are, but whenever I have a meeting or presentation coming up, out come the heels and the jackets.

I also work on the phones a lot, and I've noticed I get different reactions and responses based on my voice and how I use it. I sound like I'm 12 when I'm on the phone, and my voice automatically goes higher when I'm trying to help someone. I also smile, because that's what girls are supposed to do. I've noticed that when I did that, the person on the other end would automatically sound rougher and more authoritative, making me feel like a pushover. I concentrate on keeping my voice at it's regular tone, trying to sound a bit more mature, and I don't smile when I'm on the phone (you really can tell the difference). From there, I sound much more authoritative, and callers typically respond appropriately.

I'd love to just say "stand up for yourself" and "be more assertive," but it's more complicated than that. For one, it's not just easy to magically be more confident. If it was, nobody would have that issue. And unfortunately, alohabear is right, a lot men will view women they work with as either a pushover if she says yes or a bitch if she says no. Times are changing and I think they're improving, but I think it has more to do with a younger generation coming in to power in the work force.

Two things of advice - fake it until you make it and don't take things personally. I read somewhere (not sure if it's factually true, but interesting and true for me) that women feel more confident when they hear their own heels walking down a hallway. If pinning your hair back makes you feel more confident, do it. Act like you're the most confident person in the world, and soon you'll start feeling it.


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 Post subject: Re: Becoming more assertive
PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:07 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 2:14 pm
Posts: 221
And as for being called a bitch, as I, and most other assertive women, have been called, own it. There's a great clip from SNL Weekend Update when Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are discussing Hillary Clinton and how the media was portraying her as a bitch. Regardless of your political views and whether you agree with her or not, you have to admit she is a strong, capable woman. Instead of 'defending' her and pointing out all the reasons she's not, they say "Hillary is a bitch. I'm a bitch, she's a bitch. You know what? Bitches get stuff done." The name calling is just a stupid tactic to get you back into your 'rightful place' as a pushover.

OK, slightly off topic and a bit of a rant. I apologize for language on the forum, but it something we have to deal with.


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