Gynomite is a real live therapist licensed in 2 1/2 states (seriously!) and she would love to take a crack at your emotional dilemmas. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org- all emails stay confidential. You can also check her out on her weekly column over at Lemondrop. Today, Gynomite takes on people who tell it like it is.
People tell me a lot that I am too harsh and say things that are mean to others, but I feel like I am surrounded by passive people, and maybe I’m the only one willing to be assertive. It sounds cheesy to say that I tell it like it is, but I do. Is it bad to call things out in other people that you notice or to not let yourself get taken advantage of?
Alright, let’s dig in with this tiny amount of information you’ve given me.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being assertive. Absolutely not. In a world where people let others run all over them for fear of seeming too pushy, assertiveness is wonderful.
But if your friends are complaining, you might have crossed that fine line from assertive to aggressive. The difference, at least in my head, is that assertive people stand up for themselves, whereas aggressive people make stands on things that have nothing to do with them. Assertive people use their skills to facilitate communication, aggressive people use their skills to intimidate or shame others. Assertive people, even if they are doing something for themselves, always have the other person in mind, on an equal level with them. Aggressive people only think of themselves.
And if you will allow me to rant for a moment, people who “tell it like it is” often get an inflated sense of nobility about themselves, like they’re willing to be disliked because they’re so enamored with the truth. You know what? Most of the time, when you’re telling it like it is, you’re not saying anything that we haven’t all thought of before. You’re not more insightful than the people who don’t say shitty things. You’re just the asshole who forgot/hasn’t learned that some things are better left unsaid.
Actually, I think I’m done. I guess my advice today is “think about if you’re saying before you’re saying, and decide who is benefiting more: you or them”. Most of the time, I imagine it’s you. And if it is, shut up every once in a while.
This message brought to you by a fairly cranky Gynomite.