If students wish to have clear communication with others they must not be afraid to be assertive when speaking their desires.
All too often I have noticed people getting volunteered to doing something without their permission, or being convinced that if they do not fulfill someone else’s desires they are doing a disservice. At one point, everybody has been told that if they did not do something they would be a bad friend or person. Even worse than that, some people end up believing these things because they are not able to voice their lack of desire to do something. People who do not stand up for themselves can end up being a pawn in a cruel chess game of manipulation and guilt-tripping.
It does not make anyone a bad person to not want to do something that is simply unfair of someone to ask of them. While this may be a difficult concept to grasp, having a solid understanding of this is crucial. It is not hard to say, “No I do not want to do that.” Sure, it may sound a little harsh, but it is a lot better than getting taken advantage of due to guilt or the fear of saying no.
I would hope that even the meekest of us would be able to say no to an unreasonable request, but that simply is not the case. Heck, even I will admit to occasionally being a passenger on the guilt-trip train. Peer pressure is not some made up fable—it is a force that can cause people to do things they may never have even thought of doing. Peer pressure is, in simple terms, like a playground bully. Even though no one wants to eat dirt or get wet-willies, it happens sometimes when the force of a bully comes into play.
While I can preach all day about the necessity to stand up for one’s self and to abandon the fear of being assertive, I do realize this is easier said than done. I have lived my whole life being afraid of what others would think of me if I simply stated my mind.
All someone had to do was ask and, out of the fear of being thought a jerk, I would do whatever was asked of me. After countless bought lunches, car rides, errands and various other tribulations, I came to the cold, hard realization that I was being taken advantage of.
From that point onward, I knew I had to take a stand. I was still willing and able to help out my friends or family sometimes, but I no longer felt the pressure to fulfill every single thing asked of me. Slowly but surely, my confidence in myself grew, as did my assertiveness. None of my family or friends thought I suddenly became a jerk. In fact, most people started showing me more respect after they saw that I was not afraid to stand up for myself.
Being assertive does not mean being a jerk, but it does mean protecting yourself from being stepped on. It may be hard at first, but once people realize their pawn cannot be played any more, they will stop leaving footprints on it.