Upon recommendation by one of my mentors, who happens to be male, I purchased a copy of The AssertiveWoman by Stanlee Phelps and Nancy Austin. This might not be a book that my usual followers would think “I would need.” The truth is I may be comfortable asserting myself for your birth and breastfeeding and your other medical needs, but I don’t stick up for myself very well when it comes to finances, public speaking, negotiating, etc… I’ve certainly read books on assertiveness (ei, in the business world) and empowerment (ei, metaphysical and spiritual). This book seemed to cover just about every area I am a wimp with particular emphasis on my practical daily needs as a woman.
This book is going to make my top ten list for women. Maybe even my top 5 list. I am impressed. My smart aleck boys who are trying to meet Literature and Composition deadlines by writing book reports sarcastically asked: “If you love the book so much are you going to write a thousand-word book report?” Good idea! I decided a blog post in the style of a book report would multi-task by setting an example to my boys about what is expected of them in their book reviews, and also serve as a way to share this resource.
Looking at the cover of the book, it seemed a bit more women’s mundane work place and political rights. (You know I am about the right of women to mother their children.) The title might even be intimidating if you are a man dealing with a stubborn female. All you may “hear” is: “Let the Inner Bitch Out.” Page two, clears that up real quick. “The idea of an assertive women-- a shrew who would rise up from years of oppression and make life miserable for everyone—has been utterly discredited…. Assertiveness enriches relationships, opens doors, and strengthens bonds.” Assertiveness is not always about getting your way or about being right. It’s about being aware of consequences of our words and actions and living with our choice.
The book introduces characters: Dormat Dorrie, Aggressive Augusta, Indirect Isabel, and Assertive Allison. I want to be Allison, but I unfortunately identify most like Dormat Dorrie in most areas of my life unless you pushed my buttons and I morph into Augusta. The characters are used to show example of healthy and unhealthy dialogue in various scenarios. I hope to hear Allison’s voice speaking to me when I find myself in challenging situations.
As I was reading the book, I found myself reading out loud parts to my family (or anyone who would listen). To enlist my husband’s trust of the book, I read to him the “business chart” which was a gender neutral topic. Anything, I can find on making his business more efficient is a good thing and would win points. These two pages were about encouraging communication within your company. Better communication may lead to a bottom line. What is to not like about a simple chart identifying these points.
It’s empowering as a business owner to have a resource to back-up some of my instincts about communication when I make decision, policies, and protocols. I don’t mean this in a bad way. The examples are going to help me move forward in the way best for everyone. Actually, my employees are eager for me to finish my reading and share the book. I am excited that they are interested. We will all be winners!
Back to my husband… there is a chapter… blushing … on the healthy sensually-assertive women. I read him part of that. I am not assertive enough to share exactly what I read; you are going to have to read it for yourself. He decided, “That’s a well-worded book.” (Yes, I know my kids are going to read this, and they can read that part of the book too. I don’t mind if they can access resources that are constructive about intimate relationships.) As my mentor pointed out, they can learn to identify positive communication early on in relationships.
Speaking of teens, I liked the section about confronting your teens with experimental behavior. I read one of my sons some of the example dialogue. Even though I am not having any particular problems with the boys, I like making myself available for conversation on sensitive subjects before they become a problem. It potentially opens the door for further conversation, but I also learned my son has a good sense of humor in his response “a joking response about a scenario worse than I could imagine.” I want to be that mother; the one that is approachable by teens.
The book serves as a personal workbook also. There are some quizzes that are educational in-themselves creating awareness of situations that are assertive. I also made a list of activities that I would like to feel more empowered and didn’t really think of as assertive. Some items on my list are speaking up at a large conference and asking for borrowed items to be returned. Another area I found challenging is switching dentists (I know, silly), but I have moved forward with confidence with this decision this week.
I discovered I wasn’t doing too bad in all areas. Saying no to an opportunity that everyone else claims will be good for networking is being assertive. You can clone me and I could have a full-time schedule of mother/baby related activities outside the office. I can’t possibly be at every meeting, every conference, and answer every on-line discussion. Deciding the best way to participate and knowing when to say no is being assertive. Perhaps I can take it up a notch on areas that I tend to be comfortable one-on-one or with a lay audience, taking it to a larger group or professional meeting.
Having a top ten list of books for women is an excellent idea for me to put together. I’ve thought of five already. I’ll have to decide if ten is necessary or if five will do. Which do you think they are?