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.

College Bound

1, SF_52WeeksOfWisdom_FINAL COVER_022215, front_edited-1, squareFarrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1Are there any women in your life that are going to college this fall?  Someone who has graduated from high school and is starting the next phase of her education?  Someone who has been in the “real world” for awhile and has decided that a college degree is what she needs to accomplish her career goals?  Someone who is going back to college for an advanced degree?

If so, my books would be great gifts to let them know you are thinking of them, as well as assisting them in meeting their goals through self reflection.

Don’t Act Like Prey! A Guide to Self Leadership for Women uses stories and metaphors to discuss the costs of being passive, the costs of being aggressive, the benefits of being assertive, and how to find the delicate balance of assertiveness.

52 Weeks of Wisdom, A Guide to Self Leadership for Women provides 52 short stories to encourage the reader to think about what she does, why she does it, and does she want to change.

For additional information, and to order from your preferred supplier in your preferred format, go to SusanLFarrell.com.


dreamstime_xs_8973042Juggling our responsibilities in life is a little like juggling balls, eggs, or chainsaws.  (Well, maybe not chainsaws, although it might seem like it sometimes.)

The more items we try to juggle, the more likely we are to drop something.  When we drop something, then we have to clean up the mess, while still juggling the remaining items.

Before adding more items to juggle, ask yourself:

  • Is it necessary?
  • Do I really want to do this?

If the answer to both is “no” then say “no” to whoever is asking you to juggle more items.  It’s okay to tell people “no” when it’s not necessary and you don’t have the time or the desire to do so.

It’s also acceptable to ask for a trade.  If you start juggling a new item for someone, what item will they take from you?  It’s amazing how often people decide they really don’t need you to do something if you expect them to do something for you in return.

I much prefer to juggle a few items and do it well rather than to try to juggle many items and drop most of them.  I have gotten much better at telling people “no” or at least telling them “not now.”

Are you trying to juggle too many items?  Are there some you can give up?  Or can you at least quit adding more items to juggle until you feel you have the situation under control again?

Girls’ vs. Boys’ Expectations

dreamstime_xs_7301740There are several things I think we should consider related to expectations.

  • What do we expect of girls compared to what do we expect of boys?
  • What do girls and boys expect of each other based upon our expectations?
  • What do girls and boys expect of themselves based upon our expectations?
  • Actions speak louder than words.

I think many people, if asked what they expect of boys, would say things like responsible, independent, self-sufficient, active.  I think that many would say that they expect girls to be nice, nurturing, caring, compassionate.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things.  They are all good things to be.  So why wouldn’t we want to encourage all children to be all these things?  And yet do we do this?  Or are our expectations driven by stereotypes?

We may state in words that we think girls should be independent and self-sufficient.  However, if we continue to do things for her rather than letting her do them for herself, our actions are stating that we want her to be dependent.  Have you ever found that you step in to help a girl with something sooner than you would a boy?  Why?  To take this a bit further, do you reward independence the same way you reward obedience?  Do you expect girls to be more obedient than boys?  Do you expect boys to be assertive when in the same situation you expect girls to be passive?

It is important that we stop to think about what our expectations of boys and girls really are.  Then we need to think about what our actions are really communicating.  Are we sending mixed messages?  Actions do speak louder than words.

Perhaps the most important reason that we need to be aware of our expectations is that children so easily adopt our expectations as to what other people should be and what they, themselves, should be.

(Notice the picture.  What expectations does that set?  That boys can be doctors but girls can only be nurses?  I don’t mean any disrespect to nurses.  I just want to point out that this is a subtle way that expectations are set and stereotypes are continued.)

Now Available as an eBook!

Farrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1I am pleased to announce that my book Don’t Act Like Prey! A Guide to Self Leadership for Women is now available as an ebook.  The book discusses passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior.  When we are passive, we do not get what we need from others.  When we are aggressive, we damage relationships.  We need to consistently find the balance of being assertive.  The book includes tables to help the reader determine what the costs and benefits are to remaining the same and to changing her behavior.

To order, go to my website.  You can order for Kindle or Nook by clicking on the appropriate link.  Since tables to do not work so well for ebooks, be sure to download the tables.  Also, if you leave me your email address I will send you the special bonus chapter.

If you prefer hard copies of books, the book is available from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Click on the appropriate link.

The holiday gift-giving season is approaching fast!  These books make great gifts for the women in your professional and professional life.

The 3 R’s of Assertiveness

Farrell_Don'tActLikePrey_FULLCOVER_FINAL_090714, cropped_edited-1

This is a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!)  The 3 R’s are relationships, rights, and respect.

We all have professional and personal relationships.  Within each of these relationship we and the other party have certain rights.  When we do not respect ourselves and our rights, we are passive.  When we do not respect others and their rights, we are aggressive.  When we respect both ourselves and others, we are assertive.

I published this presentation previous in a series of five segments.  If you did not have an opportunity to watch the segments, I hope you will learn something in this one that will help you achieve the success you want.

Stealing Stuff

hStealing Stuff (Video)

This blog provides additional information to the attached video clip.  The clip is from an assertiveness presentation I did for The Business Building Academy.

In my presentation on assertiveness, Don’t Act Like Prey!, I discuss the three R’s of assertiveness:  relationship, rights, and respect.  In this presentation I used the customer/supplier relationship as an example and we discussed the rights of each party.  In this clip, we are discussing the rights of the supplier.  One right of the supplier is that the customer will not steal her stuff.

I never would have thought of that until this story happened to me.

Do No Harm, and…

Do No Harm, and… (Video)

“Do no harm” is a phrase that has been around for a very long time.  I think this is a good concept to live by, up to a point.

I read somewhere (I do not remember where) an addition to this phrase that I really like:  “Do no harm, and do not let anyone harm you.”

When we are aggressive, we harm others.  When we are passive, we let others harm us.  When we are assertive, we find the balance.  We do not harm others, and we do not let others harm us.

For more information and exercises to help you become more assertive, or assertive more consistently, see my book, Don’t Act Like Prey! available through www.SusanLFarrell.com or from Amazon.

Assertiveness (5), The Finish of the Story

The attached video is an excerpt from a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title of the presentation is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!.) 

Part 5 finishes the story started in the first segment.  It includes important points to remember when you are in a situation where you know the best thing is to be assertive.

This is the final segment of the condensed assertiveness presentation.  I hope you have learned at least one or two items that you want to implement to improve your success.

Assertiveness (4), Respect and Metaphors

The attached video is an excerpt from a very condensed presentation on assertiveness.  The title of the presentation is The 3 R’s of Assertiveness.  (An alternative title is Don’t Act Like Prey!.) 

Part 4, Respect, discusses the importance of respecting ourselves and our rights.  When we do not, we are passive.  It also discusses the importance of respecting others and their rights.  When we do not, we are aggressive.  By respecting ourselves and others, and acting accordingly, we are assertive.

It also discusses using wildlife metaphors for describing passive, aggressive, and assertive behavior.

Each week I will post the next section of the presentation.  Last week was on rights.  Next week will be the final, the finish of the story stared in section 1.