3 R’s of Assertiveness

Dont-Act-Like-Prey-Kindle, final, resized squareIf we are to achieve the success we desire in our professional and personal lives, we must stand up for ourselves and speak out on our behalf.  We cannot be passive.  We must be assertive.

Many of us have difficulty in being assertive rather than passive.  This can be for many reasons.  We want to be nice.  We want to be liked.  We do not want to cause conflict.  We do not like confrontations.  For us baby-boomers, as girls we were encouraged to be passive.  These reasons are all understandable.  However, they can also be obstacles to our success.

Sometimes, rather than being assertive, we go overboard and become aggressive.  This can be equally detrimental to achieving our professional and personal goals.  When we are aggressive, we can damage the relationships that we need.

We can change.  We can find that balance between passive and aggressive behavior called assertive.  Sometimes it is easier to change if we look at a behavior from a new perspective.  One perspective is the 3 R’s:  relationships, rights, and respect.


We all have relationships.  We have professional relationships with our supervisors, employees, co-workers, customers, suppliers, and many others.  We have personal relationships with our spouse/significant other, children, parents, in-laws, neighbors, friends and countless others.

These relationships are important to us.  We need other people to help us achieve what we want.  We cannot do everything ourselves.  Most of these relationships also provide us with a great deal of happiness and enjoyment.  They make our life richer.

It is to our advantage to have positive relationships with the people around us.  To do this, we need to be assertive.


We all have basic rights simply because we are human beings.  We have the right to be treated with respect, dignity, professionalism, courtesy.  We have the right, at least in this country, of freedom of speech.  Not only do we have the right to speak out, we also have the right to be heard.

We also have the right to set boundaries.  We have the right to create boundaries around what we consider acceptable behavior from others and around what we consider acceptable treatment of us.  We have the right to defend these boundaries.

In addition to general rights, within each relationship each party has rights.  For example, in a customer/supplier relationship, the customer has the right to the agreed upon good or service.  The supplier has the right to get paid the amount agreed upon.

When we are passive, it is as though we forget that we have rights.  We do not stand up for our rights.  We let others take our rights away from us.

When we are aggressive, it is as though we forget that others have the same rights that we do.  We take their rights away from them.

When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We recognize that we have rights and so do others.


Respect is the key to finding the balance between passive and aggressive behavior.  It is the key to being assertive.

When we are passive, we do not respect our rights.  We do not respect ourselves.

When we are aggressive, we do not respect others’ rights.  We do not respect others.

When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We respect our rights while respecting others’ rights.  We respect ourselves while respecting others.

Knowing how to show respect can be difficult sometimes related to differences in cultures, situations, and people.  You may think you are being respectful, but the other person may perceive it differently.  The opposite is also true.  Be aware of this and carefully listen and observe.  If you are not certain if your message has been received as intended, or if you are not certain you have received the message as intended, ask for clarification.

Consistently finding the balance between passive and aggressive behavior (assertive) can take some work.  It is well worth the effort, however, in improved professional and personal relationships.  To help you, remember the 3 R’s:  relationships, rights, and respect.

What Are You Feeding Your Brain?

dreamstime_xs_46622325We all know that we need to have a healthy diet to physically nourish our brains as well as our bodies.  Without the proper nutrients, in adequate amounts, our brains can’t function properly.

We also need to be aware of what thoughts and beliefs we are feeding our brains, about ourselves and about the world.

Are your thoughts telling you that are worthy or worthless?  That you are capable or incompetent?  That you are smart or stupid?  That you are a success or a failure?    Are your thoughts telling you that people in general are good or evil?  That the world is beautiful or ugly?  That life is full of hope or hopeless?  You get the idea.  Our thoughts become our beliefs which become our reality.

We also need to pay attention to the subtle messages that creep into our brains.  Think of the movies you see, the television shows you watch, the books you read, the music you listen to, the people you follow on social media.  What messages are there?  Are they positive or negative?  How is this impacting your brain, how is it impacting you?

I am especially concerned with what messages are being sent, received, and believed about women.  Take a critical look at the messages you are receiving.  Are women portrayed as smart, strong, independent people?  Or are they portrayed as objects or as inferior beings?  What messages about women are your daughters, granddaughters, and nieces receiving?  Are these message that will help or hurt them?

Too often I think we just soak in whatever messages are there, like mindlessly eating junk food, without thinking if these messages are good for us.  Is it time for you to feed your brain more positive thoughts and messages?

It Is What It Is…

dreamstime_xs_34242631I saw a sign with the following message in a gift shop in Evergreen, Colorado. ( It did not include an author.)

“It is what it is…but it will become what you make of it.”

I think this contains a great deal of wisdom and hope.  No matter what is happening now, we have the power to change it.  No matter who we are now, we have the power to change ourselves.

What will you create?

Self-Empowerment for Women e-Newsletter

16153152088, resizedIf you enjoy my blogs on self-empowerment for women, you will love my newly designed e-newsletter.  My feature articles are similar to my blogs.  I include past blogs in case you missed them.  I am also going to start offering special offers on my books.

To subscribe to my e-newsletter, click here.

If you would like to receive my blogs directly in your email rather than searching for them, click here and click again on the right hand side of the blog, “receive notifications of new blog posts.”

Thank you!


dreamstime_xs_65105548, resizedEmpowerment is external, self-empowerment is internal.

Empowerment is when someone has power, permission, and/or authority to do something.  This often comes from outside the person.  For example, our supervisor might empower us to make decisions related to the business.  We might empower our attorney to make legal decisions for us.  Laws might empower women to have more equal status in the workplace.

Self-empowerment comes from inside of us.  It is when we give ourselves the power, permission, and/or authority to do something.  This might be to grow and develop into the person we want.  It might be to create the life we want.  We have the power within us to create what we desire.  Often what stands in our way is that we do not think we have the right to it.  We need to give ourselves permission to go after what we want.

Self-empowerment is when we use our power to take control of all aspects of our life.  It is when we take responsibility for our choices, our thoughts, our actions and the consequences of these.  It is when we decide what we want, develop a plan on how to achieve it, and implement the plan.

This applies to our professional and personal life.  Each impacts the other.  An important benefit to this is that the knowledge and skills that make you successful in one aspect of your life can assist in another.  For example, skills that you learn to deal with less-than-desirable co-workers can often be used to deal with pesky relatives who refuse to fall off the family tree.

To take control of your life it is important to be aware of what makes you you.  What are your thoughts?  Values?  Beliefs?  Passions?  Goals?  Motivations?  Who are you, and why are you the way you are?  This helps you determine why you do the things you do.

My writing is designed to provide you with opportunities to think about various topics.  From this you might gain a new perspective about yourself, your thoughts and beliefs, your motivations, and your actions.  After that, it becomes easier to make changes in your thoughts and behaviors, if you decide to do so.


Asking for Help

dreamstime_xs_92335252I have a problem asking for help.  There are reasons for this.

One is that I’m internally wired to think that I should be able to do everything, by myself, all the time.  This might relate to being responsible, independent, or self-sufficient.  These are good attributes, up to a point.  Or this might relate to being stubborn.  Stubbornness, too, can be a good thing, up to a point.  The reality is, we all need help sometimes and we shouldn’t let stubbornness, pride, or other things get in the way of asking.

Another reason that I have trouble asking for help is that I want things done the way I want them done, when I want them done.  I think that the way I do things is the best way.  After all, if it wasn’t the best way I wouldn’t do it that way.  It’s the old “If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.”  The reality is, rarely is there one best way to do anything.  The important thing is the result—what was done, not how it was done.

I suggest that when you need help, ask.  Don’t let things get in the way.  When you ask, communicate clearly the result you want, but leave it up to the person helping you to determine the best way for him or her.  If a deadline is necessary, give it.  Otherwise ask the person when he or she can complete it.  These techniques can be used in our professional and personal lives.

Noticing Work

dreamstime_xs_34342688I was talking with a friend recently.  Both she and her husband have careers that require quite a bit of their time.  They also have two small children that require a great deal of time.  She mentioned that she wished her husband would do more around the house and with childcare.  I asked her whether she thought he could see the work that needed to be done.  She didn’t think he could.

I don’t think that is unusual.  Unless you are the one doing the work on a regular basis, I think it can be difficult to see that it needs to be done.  If someone else is being proactive and doing the work before it even needs to be done, it can be even more difficult.

There are many things in our house that I do that my husband doesn’t notice.  But then there are many things that he does that I don’t notice.  I’d notice if the furnace didn’t work, for example, but I don’t notice when he changes the filters to keep the furnace working properly.

A simple solution to this is communication.  Before assuming the person won’t help, or doesn’t want to help, ask for help.  This can apply to your professional life as well.  If you need help from your supervisor, ask.  If you don’t think she is aware of all you do, tell her.

Also take the time to find out what the other people in your life are contributing.  It might be more than you think.

Resolutions vs. Goals

dreamstime_xs_92607184I’m not a resolutions person.  It seems that too often I make a resolution at the beginning of the year to do something big, set it aside, and never look at it again.  For me, resolutions are passive because I don’t act on them.

I prefer goals.  For me, goals are active.  First there is goal-planning and then developing strategies for goal-implementation.  Goals, or at least strategies, are also active in that they are fluid.  They change.  If one strategy doesn’t work, I try something different.  If many strategies don’t work, then I look at whether I need to change the goal.

The important thing, of course, is that we accomplish what we want.  If making resolutions work for you, great.  If goals work better for you, that is great as well.  Do whatever works for you to make 2018 the year you want.

Gain and Pain

dreamstime_xs_35911205, croppedYou have probably heard the concept that we have two basic choices.  We can choose long-term gain for short-term pain or we can choose short-term gain for long-term pain.

Most of the decisions I have made in my life were long-term gain for short-term pain.  In college I regularly choose to study instead of party.  In my careers I regularly chose to work long, hard hours and to do my best rather than slacking.  I have usually chosen to do what was right or responsible rather than what I felt like doing at the time.

These decisions have paid off for me.  I consider myself to have a happy, successful life, both professionally and personally.

What I realized the other day, though, was that I am at a point in my life where I can ease up.  I can do more of what I want because I want to.  I’ve reached the long-term gain and I don’t really need to worry so much about the short-term pain.  I’m glad I’ve made this realization now, where I can enjoy it fully.

If you are like me, and have consistently made the long-term gain decisions, I suggest that you stop and access where you are in life.  Could you do a little more of the short-term gain items?  With where you are now, is there much long-term pain to worry about?

For What Are You Thankful?

hThe original purpose of Thanksgiving was to give thanks for what we have.  Unfortunately, too often in the rush of doing everything we think we must do for the holiday, never mind what we need to do routinely, we forget to do what is most important—reflect on what we have and be thankful.

I think it is important to be thankful for all the little things we have in our lives as well as the big things.  It is, after all, the little things that combine to make our life.  Often we forget the importance of the little things, and now is a good time for us to remember what they are and how important they are to us.

I think it is also important to reflect on our life as a whole.  Overall, I think most of us have good lives.  We have more good than bad in our lives.  When we focus on the negative instead of the positive, however, the negative can appear to be a much larger part of our lives than it really is.  When we focus on scarcity, we don’t see abundance.

Do you see your life as it really is?  Are you thankful for the life you have?