If you’ve ever doubted whether assertiveness works or not, I come bearing testimony that might serve to restore your faith.
Allow me to explain.
For the past two years, we’ve been dealing with the maddening situation of a leaky roof.
You’d figure a situation like this could be dealt with through a simple file claim to our insurance company.
But alas, such is not the case.
It appears we have to go through a homeowner’s coop who dispatches the designated personnel in charge of investigating homeowners’ claims.
After this, the powers that be determine whether your circumstances merit repair funds and another six months to actually disperse them.
Ironically, those funds are the same money we’re paying in monthly coop fees.
Consequently, we’ve drowned in a sea of red tape for the past twenty-four months.
I wish I could say that we’ve finally achieved success in this endeavor, but the truth is that half the team has failed miserably.
And by half the team, I’m referring to the Significant Other.
His inability to find the time, mental energy, physical energy, or “the right words,” have left us with a soggy roof that, according to my calculations, will be falling on our heads in a week.
However, I shouldn’t complain.
After all, I’m guilty of having sent the wrong “man” for the job.
Moreover, we all know what happens when there’s a mission failure.
Yep. A cleaner is called in.
And yes, that cleaner would be me; the right wo-“man.”
However, my cleaner duties were not as simple as I thought and I had to resort to a different sort of assertiveness.
One that went something like this:
Me: Good morning. This is Bella calling for Mr. So and So.
Receptionist: Let me check if he’s in.
(A moment later)
I’m sorry. It appears that Mr. So and So is in a meeting. Would you like to leave a message?
Me: No, thanks. The last fifty messages left by my significant other haven’t been replied to, so I don’t think leaving one more is going to make a difference. I’ll call back later.
(Twenty minutes later)
Me: Hello. This is Bella, calling for Mr. So and So.
Receptionist: One moment, please.
(A moment later)
I’m sorry. It appears Mr. So and So is out to lunch. May I take a message?
Me: No, thank you. I’ll call back later.
Thirty minutes later.
Me: This is Bella
Receptionist: Yes, I recognize your voice. (Really?) He’s not in now.
Me: Who’s not in now?
Receptionist: Mr. So and So.
Me: So you do remember! And do you know where he would “appear” to be?
Receptionist: I believe he’s in the bathroom.
Me: You believe or it appears?
Receptionist: Aren’t they the same thing?
Me: I don’t know. You tell me.
Receptionist: (Exasperated) Ms. Bella, you’re going to have to call later.
Me: No, thank you. I’ll just wait till he’s finished.
Receptionist: I’m afraid that’s not possible. We’re not allowed to tie up the line.
Me: You mean to tell me there’s only one line on your switchboard?
Receptionist: It would appear so.
Ten minutes later.
Receptionist: He’s still not out.
Me: Are you kidding me?
Receptionist: I assure you I’m not.
Me: And I assure you that I’ve cleared my schedule so I can take care of this matter once and for all. Given this is all I have on my “to do” list today, I will continue to call every ten minutes until I speak to Mr. So and So.
Receptionist: One moment. I see him exiting the restroom.
(Whispering allows me to catch the words “call,” “ten,” and “crazy”.)
And then a male voice…
“This is Mr. So and So. It appears you need to speak to me.”
And that’s how being
a pain in the ass assertiveness saved the day.
So for anyone who thinks assertiveness only has one face, I’m here to clarify this isn’t true.
Sometimes it has an attitude, or a look, or a raised eyebrow, or the use of certain vocabulary.
Other times, assertiveness can have a “ta da!” moment when a person is an outright nuisance.
Yes, people, and outright nuisance.
Because it’s all about making yourself heard while still respecting the rights of others.
And because no one said you can’t assert yourself by being a pain in the ass.