How To Be Assertive As A Young Female Professional

How To Be Assertive As A Young Female Professional

Assertiveness feels unnatural and uncomfortable for many women, but developing the quality is necessary to create opportunities and success.

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Sometimes, as a student preparing to enter the workforce, I start to feel stuck at a single point on my career path. I have a habit of working hard with my head down, hoping that success and opportunities will naturally flow towards good, consistent work. When that doesn't happen, work starts to feel pointless.

But opportunities rarely happen on their own. In most cases, I have had to create opportunities myself. To do this, especially in my first year of college, I have had to get familiar with the art of assertiveness.

I was first exposed to the idea of assertiveness when I was 16 years old and simultaneously applying for part-time jobs, volunteer positions, and college. I borrowed a copy of "The Confidence Code" by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, a book geared towards young female professionals. I had always been quiet and reserved, and I was drawn to the exuberant, unapologetic confidence of the authors, as well as their success stories. For a success story of my own, I needed to become assertive.

Assertiveness is necessary to create your own opportunities. According to Psychology Today, "people who are assertive clearly and respectfully communicate their wants, needs, positions, and boundaries to others."

It sounds simple, but being assertive can be challenging -for women especially. According to a Careerstone Group article, "Women can be their own worst enemies in the workplace. Very often, women are afraid to advocate for themselves, to speak up, negotiate, disagree, and promote themselves."

Some of the principle behaviors of assertiveness are speaking strongly, negotiating effectively, confronting conflict, and self-promoting. Women generally avoid all four, hoping that pure merit will be rewarded. However, according to the article, the workplace is not a meritocracy, and "if you want to get ahead, people have to know who you are, the work you have done, your value to the company, and what you are capable of doing." You have to assert yourself.

According to an Inc. article by Lead From Within president and CEO Lolly Daskal, communication style is the most critical component of assertiveness. "Pay attention to your body language as well as the words you say, and make sure you're congruent in your words, body language, and tone," Daskal wrote. "Never expect people to read your mind; if you want something, say so, and if something bothers you, speak up. Look confident when making a request or stating a preference. Stand up straight, lean in a bit, smile or keep a neutral facial expression, and look the person in the eye."

This advice applies to situations from job interviews to networking events. By learning to communicate assertively, you gain the power to create opportunities for yourself. You can achieve nearly anything by communicating in the right way -- you can negotiate a raise, start a new project, or even create a new position. By becoming assertive, you can reap the fullest benefits of your hard work.

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PSA: Keep Your Body-Negative Opinions Away From Little Girls This Summer

But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with.

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It's officially swimsuit season, y'all.

The temperature is rising, the sun is bright and shining, and a trip to the beach couldn't look more appealing than it does right now. This is the time of year that many of us have been rather impatiently waiting for. It's also the time of year that a lot of us feel our most self-conscious.

I could take the time to remind you that every body is a bikini body. I could type out how everyone is stunning in their own unique way and that no one should feel the need to conform to a certain standard of beauty to feel beautiful, male or female. I could sit here and tell you that the measurement of your waistline is not a reflection of your worth. I completely believe every single one of these things.

Hell, I've shared these exact thoughts more times than I can count. This time around, however, I'm not going to say all these things. Instead, I'm begging you to push your insecurities to the side and fake some confidence in yourself when you're in front of others.

Why?

Because our negative self-image is toxic and contagious and we're spreading this negative thinking on to others.

We're all guilty of this, we're with family or a friend and we make a nasty comment about some aspect of our appearance, not even giving a single thought to the impact our words have on the person with us. You might think that it shouldn't bother them- after all, we're not saying anything bad about them! We're just expressing our feelings about something we dislike about ourselves. While I agree that having conversations about our insecurities and feelings are important for our mental and emotional health, there is a proper and improper way of doing it. An open conversation can leave room for growth, acceptance, understanding, and healing. Making a rude or disheartening remark about yourself is destructive not only to yourself, but it will make the person you are saying these things around question their own self worth or body image by comparing themselves to you.

My little sister thinks she's "fat." She doesn't like how she looks. To use her own words, she thinks she's "too chubby" and that she "looks bad in everything."

She's 12 years old.

Do you want to know why she has this mindset? As her older sister, I failed in leading her by example. There were plenty of times when I was slightly younger, less sure of myself, and far more self-conscious than I am now, that I would look in the mirror and say that I looked too chubby, that my body didn't look good enough, that I wished I could change the size of my legs or stomach.

My little sister had to see the older sibling she looks up to, the big sis she thinks always looks beautiful, say awful and untrue things about herself because her own sense of body image was warped by media, puberty, and comparing herself to others.

My negativity rubbed off onto her and shaped how she looks at herself. I can just imagine her watching me fret over how I look thinking, "If she thinks she's too big, what does that make me?"

It makes me feel sick.

All of us are dealing with our own insecurities. It takes some of us longer than others to view ourselves in a positive, loving light. We're all working on ourselves every day, whether it be mentally, physically, or emotionally. But our own baggage shouldn't be shoved on to those we surround ourselves with, our struggles and insecurities should not form into their own burdens.

Work on yourself in private. Speak kindly of yourself in front of others. Let your positivity, real or not, spread to others instead of the bad feelings we have a bad habit of letting loose.

The little girls of the world don't need your or my negative self-image this summer. Another kid doesn't need to feel worthless because we couldn't be a little more loving to ourselves and a lot more conscious of what we say out loud.

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In Case You Haven't Heard, My Body Means My Choice, So Deal With It

With all the political differences and laws trying to be passed, based on what a woman can do with her body, demonstrates how the United States decides to use their power and control others by the means of it.

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Since the beginning of America, there have always been minority groups, which include African American, Hispanics, the disabled, homosexuals, and women. Such minority groups have made it their responsibility to fight for their rights and earn justice for it. However, there has recently sprung up a debate on abortion policies, attempting to alter and re-write the rules on Roe vs Wade per state to pursue when or if abortion is illegal based on certain circumstances.

Now, I am not writing this in any means to deter you from your individual opinion on this situation or your perspective, but I do believe that I have a voice in this situation since I am a woman and this situation affects me if any of you individuals like that or not. And most of all, I deserve to be heard.

Starting off, in no means should a man, government officials, or anyone for that matter be able to decide what is acceptable to do with my own individual body, EVER. How have we become a country that thinks it is more than okay to tell what others can do based on the decision of another person. See, we have this thing called bodily autonomy which means we have independence over our own body, or at least we should. A prime example of this is when an individual dies, a surgeon can not remove the person's organs (if they were an organ donor) until the designated power of attorney says it is okay to do so. However, it is apparently acceptable and illegal for someone who has become pregnant through rape or in general is unable to care for a child to receive an abortion and loses their bodily autonomy for the following 9 months. How does a corpse have more rights and bodily autonomy than a pregnant woman does today?

Currently, the state of Alabama has passed a bill that makes abortion illegal under any circumstances and committing this now known felony, can lead to a very long jail sentence. In fact, committing abortion in Alabama (for the woman or the doctor) can lead to a longer jail sentence than someone who raped another individual. Wow. How is that acceptable????

Many states are following in Alabama's lead and we need to put a stop to it before it becomes too far. We women, need to fight for achieving our bodily autonomy and band together and show America that we are a force to be reckoned with.

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