Women often have a smaller range of acceptable behaviors than men. If we are too nice, we’re seen as weak. If we are too aggressive, we’re judged as bitchy. Our roles as women are to be empathetic, supportive, and caretaking, but being confined to those roles has only placed us in this niche of not having a voice and not being able to set boundaries. We’re afraid of what others will think of us, what others will say about us.
When women are afraid to be assertive, they’re limiting themselves into being victims. Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive or pushy. It means that you’re standing up for what you believe in. It means that you’re not letting people walk all over you or making you do things you really don’t want to do. It doesn’t mean you have to be argumentative or bitchy. Remember that you don’t have to agree with what your friends or acquaintances are saying because you are too afraid to stand out from the crowd.
There are diplomatic ways to be assertive. Instead of agreeing (or just staying silent) with someone who is spouting off a completely different point of view on a subject that you and that person are discussing, it’s just as easy to say, “I see your point of view, but this is how I see it from my perspective and experiences.” Allow someone to disagree with you, but if they aggressively continue push their agenda on you without giving your opinion credence, then it’s time to let it go. You don’t have to explain yourself any further. No harm, no foul. When it gets to that point, refusing to continue to engage in a pointless argument says more than words can explain.
What about that pushy friend? The one who must have their way on things…where to go, what to do. If you don’t feel like doing something with them or going where they want to go, instead of making up excuses such as, “Oh I have to do this or that on that day” or “My Aunt Milly needs me to take her to the doctor”, all you have to say is, “I appreciate your wanting to include me, but I’m going to pass on it this time, but thanks anyway.” Keep repeating that if they continue to try and convince you.
The friend who talks your ear off and won’t let you off the phone. We’ve all been subject to that cauliflower ear syndrome after someone has kept us on the phone far longer than we wished to talk with (or more accurately, listen to) them. Just say, “I’m so sorry to have to cut you short, but I’ve got something I have to do now. Maybe we can pick up this conversation another time...buh bye”. And you do have something to do now! You have to get off the phone!
It's okay to set boundaries. It’s healthy for us, and it’s healthy for those around us. Be your own person, not what others expect of you. Don’t feel guilty, don’t feel regretful, and don’t give a damn if they talk about you!