The line between aggression and assertion can, often times, be blurred both by those exhibiting the behavior and those witnessing it. It is often and wrongly thought that the only way for a woman to get what she wants out of life is to fight for it, to show her teeth, and kick up dust. However, those who are more experienced have come to learn that these animalistic antics are not necessary or useful, not in our personal or professional lives. Now, this doesn't mean we don't get exactly what we want, but it does mean that we do so without losing respect for ourselves and the respect of others. Women who understand the difference between aggression and assertion use the latter to their benefit, understanding that her power is still and quiet, assured, and preceding. Women who understand the difference between aggression and assertion know that the ability to make others comfortable is a gift and, in doing so, they do not weaken their power, but prove it. They are snake charmers, in a way, taking each situation and bending it to suit them. They understand that strength is soft and quiet, melodic, and fluid. It does not rage.
She is Opinionated:
A woman can have an opinion and be secure in that opinion without feeling she has to fight to be understood. It is important to know and be okay with the fact that opinions are not law and that feelings do not always depict reality. It is just as important to know and be okay with the fact that not everyone is going to agree with or understand you. You can be as opinionated as you want but, my love, what are you fighting for? Why are you so tense? Why are you so hard and harsh in your delivery and stance? If you were secure in yourself and what you think, there would be no need to line your opinion with aggression. You would be able to cooly lay your opinions on the table and walk away from them, never needing to justify or validate them or yourself for having them.
She is Bossy:
Being a boss is much different from being bossy. Knowing what needs to be done and how, then, having to delegate to others is common and expected in different systems of living, be it households or offices. What is not common or expected is the entitlement that comes with bossiness. Though you may have the right to dictate, you do not have the right to boss someone around. There is a big difference and much of it has to do with tone, and this is where discerning between assertion and aggression comes in, again. A woman who is confident in her position, knowledge, and worth, understands the importance of her tone. When she is secure in her social standing and the respect she has earned, gained, and retained, she knows she can be calmly assertive and those around her will take heed. She knows she doesn't have to be a bitch to get shit done!
An Assertive Light is Never Dimmed:
Many women feel that unless they are aggressive, bossy, and in-your-face opinionated, they are in danger of dimming their lights. But this is untrue. What dims a woman's light in these instances is her inability to control her emotions and harness her power. What lessens us as women is doubting our quiet power, the soothing tone of our instrument that can beguile even the most poisonous reptiles. What lessens us, what dims our lights is aggression. Listen, when you know that you know what you know, there is no reason to feed into the "angry black woman" or "cunty bitch" or the "she must be on her period" stereotypes. Security breeds assertion and leaves no room for aggression.
Aim To Be Liked, It's Okay:
A lot of strong minded women think we shouldn't aim to be liked, and so we act as if we don't want to be, then, we wonder why no one likes us and why we can't find peace. We should all aim to be liked while not aiming to please. The fact is, no one likes aggression. When we learn to deliver our messages into the world more peacefully, we bring peace upon ourselves. When we aim to disrupt with aggression, we only bring more aggression into our lives. Everyone will not like what you say or do along your journey and that's okay! What people think, say, or do in reaction to your assertiveness is their decision. You just make sure that your decision doesn't include aggression.
Keep Your Spirit Light, Bright, and Clean:
Now, none of this is meant to ignore the fact that there are times in life when we have to defend ourselves, and that it is during such times we are practically forced to show our teeth. Those times are not what I'm focused upon in this post. For all intents and purposes displayed here, I am only referring to our normal personal and professional behavior--the way we go about our everyday lives. Fighting against the world doesn't mean you have to do so in a way that causes the world to turn its back on you, or attack you. Think of the world as the snake, dangerous and untamed, hissing in a wicker basket. And think about yourself as the snake charmer, using your instrument to coax the snake into formation, not with aggression, but with beautiful, melodic assertion. The most powerful person in the room is often the softest.
Earn the Right to Be Quietly Assertive:
There is an old fashioned term defining some people and being "wrong and strong." These are the loudest, most aggressive people who have so much to say and in the most forceful way, but don't know what they're talking about. They are the ones who do not deserve respect but stand strong in their positions, listening to no one but themselves. Don't be that girl. Earn the right to be quiet in your assertion by knowing what you're talking about, by believing in yourself because you've done the necessary mental, emotional, spiritual, professional, and educational work. Have the resumé to back up your delegation and direction. Have the experience to support your beliefs and opinions. Know what you know, and know it at your core. All these things will bring you confidence and confidence is quiet.
New York Times best selling author, founder of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide, Steffans Publishing Enterprises, and Karrine & Co., keynote speaker, xoJane.com contributor, host of The Gorgeous Girl's Guide to... at Podcast One.