I wish I was more assertive.
I mean, I mostly speak up for myself and CAN be outspoken. Certainly many people who know me will tell you I NEVER shut up… but I don’t like conflict. And, when I say that, it’s an understatement. I will do nearly anything to avoid conflict.
It’s a huge weakness of mine. Instead of ‘challenging’ people I’ll sulk or make them feel guilty.
Yep, real mature and evolved, that’s me.
Having said that I CAN and DO deal with conflict when I have to – and historically it’s mostly been in the workplace. On many occasions I’ve been left to deal with someone’s behaviour or raise issues with staff and I do this. Generally without too much trauma.
But… outside of the workplace and in my private life: I suck at assertiveness.
Although I am trying.
Today – as it happens – included some successes and failures.
Debbish the Bitch 1 – Assertive Debbish 0
As I no longer fly much I don’t get preferential seating and am left to wallow the butt of the plane with similarly unimportant people. Flying between Brisbane and Melbourne today I was in the third last row. Now, I’m pretty sure the space between rows gets narrower as you move towards the cheap seats at the back. And if that’s not true, then it just feels like it.
On top of that I’m over 5ft 10 (178cm), far from petite AND had to wear my platform heels (to avoid having to pack them!). As a result of this, all 6ft 2 of me was huddled in my seat today when the 4ft 5 woman in front of me put her seat RIGHT BACK. I mean, WHAT. THE. FUCK?! (Being an overly considerate person I never put my seat back unless it’s a hugely long flight and if I do I check before I do so). But nope, this woman just flung her seat back. My knees already abutting her seat were jammed in an uncomfortable position under the back of her seat.
After about 10 minutes of trying to move my knees from their place of capture – resulting in endless banging on the back of her chair – she pulled her seat forward again.
And… I should confess that I did (ahem) possibly move my legs more than I needed to… but I couldn’t get my tray table down or open the seat pocket to get my phone out.
Naturally once she pulled her seat forward I leaned forward myself and apologised for (ostensibly) kicking her seat. I explained that my legs were stuck under her chair etc etc. I felt bad. And I felt like a bitch.
It occurred to me that when she first put her seat back I SHOULD have asked her if she could move it forward just a little so my circulation wasn’t cut off. Hopefully she would have apologised and moved it a little and we both would have been happy. (Rather than her be pissy and me guilty!)
Debbish the Bitch 1 – Assertive Debbish 1
I’d booked an apartment at a relatively-nice complex here in Melbourne. It occurred to me later I really didn’t need an apartment – as I’d barely be there, but as I made arrangements at the last-minute I just took what I could get.
Getting to the room was slightly difficult as the company owns several adjacent buildings and I had to find the correct one, but once I did I was happy with the result. But, while the apartment itself was gorgeous, I discovered it had no bath (which I had specifically requested for my discounted rate of $250/night!) On top of that, the battery on the smoke detector was beeping AND the phone didn’t work.
So I complained. Nicely.
“I specifically requested a room with a bath,” I said.
And you know what??? They moved me. To a room with a bathtub and no beeping smoke detector. Just. Like. That.
Debbish the Bitch 1 – Assertive Debbish 2
By the time I eventually got around to having a bath I discovered there was no plug for the bath. Tempted though I was to leave it, I again called reception (which is actually in another building).
Profusely apologetic, the same attendant appeared 15 mins later with my plug. (I also had to show him that a button on the bathtub was broken, but still maneuverable using a screw I found!).
So… assertive me finished the day on top. And I have to say, on both occasions I was far happier with the outcome and felt more empowered HAVING spoken up.
The moral of the story?
If you’re sitting in front of me on a plane, don’t put your seat back for god’s sake! Or at least ask first.