Being a bitch and tales of assertiveness

Thursday, October 11, 2012 Permalink

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 theĀ 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.


  • loulou
    October 11, 2012

    you go girl.

    I am thinking the apartment managers better shape up or you should ship out!

    have a ball and will look forward to all reports of yours when you arrive back.

    Loulou šŸ™‚

    • Debbish
      October 12, 2012

      Thanks Loulou. And yes… I’ll be providing feedback when I leave the apartment. The staff have been great, but maintenance needs to be improved!


  • Jo Tracey
    October 11, 2012

    I’m 5’3″ & it pisses me off! Nor do I put my seat back. I don’t sleep on planes (no matter how long the flight) & I hate what it does to others, especially on low cost airlines. And yes, I reckon the closer you get to the royal doulton seats, the shorter the leg room.

    • Debbish
      October 12, 2012

      I need YOU sitting in front of me when I next travel!!!

  • Eating as a Path to Yoga
    October 11, 2012

    I’m soooo passive aggressive as well. I NEVER put my seat back unless the person in front of me does. Yes, I’ll watch out for you.

    • Debbish
      October 12, 2012

      Hee hee… sounds like a whole domino effect! I’m picturing entire rows of people foisting back their seats. (Though the person in the front row misses out. ‘Cept they’d be Business Class anyway, so we don’t care about them!)

  • MinsMash
    October 12, 2012

    I’m barely over 5 ft and I feel squished and claustrophobic in economy seats! I can imagine how uncomfortable it must be for you! How rude of the person in front of you. I never put my seat back for fear of squishing the person behind me. I dream of one day flying first class – reclined with legs streched out – with a glass of champers in hand!!

    • Debbish
      October 12, 2012

      I used to get to fly Business when I worked for the federal government and travelled overseas. As I travelled a bit I also used to upgrade my domestic flights. Sadly I can’t / don’t do that any more.

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