a. Your boss consistently asks you at the last minute to come into work on the weekend. You say “yes” every time even though you have family plans. You stew with resentment as you pore over TPS reports on a Saturday.
b. You order an expensive steak at a restaurant, but when the waiter brings it to you it’s way over-cooked. When he asks, “How is everything?” you respond, “Fine,” while you glumly saw your charred hunk of meat.
c. You want to take a jiu-jitsu class, but you don’t think your wife will be too happy with you spending an hour or two every week away from your family, so don’t you even mention the idea to her.
d. Your neighbor lets his dogs bark all night, and it’s keeping you from sleep. Instead of talking to him about it, you bad-mouth him to your friends on Facebook.
If any of these situations hits close to home, then you’re likely one of the legions of men who suffer from “Nice Guy Syndrome” Nice Guys take a passive approach to life and relationships. Instead of standing up for themselves, they let others walk all over them. They’re pushovers and perennial People Pleasers. Nice Guys have a hard time saying no to requests — even unreasonable ones. They’re considerate to a fault. When they want or need something, they’re afraid to ask for it because they don’t want to inconvenience others. Nice Guys also avoid conflict like the plague. They’d rather get along than get ahead.
At first blush, Nice Guys seem like saints. They appear generous, flexible, and extremely polite. But if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll often find a helpless, anxious, and resentful core. Nice Guys are often filled with anxiety because their self-worth depends on the approval of others and getting everyone to like them. They waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to say no to people and even then, often end up still saying yes, because they can’t go through with it. They don’t feel they can go after their true desires, because they’re locked into doing what others say they should do because “go with the flow” is their default approach to life, Nice Guys have little control over their lives and consequently feel helpless, shiftless, and stuck. They’re also typically resentful and vindictive because their unspoken needs aren’t being met and they feel like others are always taking advantage of them – even though they’re the ones who allow it to happen.
In worst-case scenarios, the Nice Guy’s pent-up resentment from being pushed around will result in unexpected outbursts of anger and violence. He’s a volcano waiting to erupt.
So what’s a Nice Guy to do? How can he regain some control over his life and quit being such a pushover?
Some Nice Guys think the solution is to swing to the other extreme and go from being passive to aggressive. Instead of meekly submitting, they feel like they have to dominate in every situation. Aggressiveness, while definitely appropriate in some instances, particularly those involving out-and-out competition, isn’t a very productive communication or behavior style in most cases. In fact, using a persistent, aggressive communication style can often backfire by creating resentment and passive-aggressive behavior in the very people you’re trying to control.
Instead of passivity and aggressiveness, the best approach lies somewhere between the two. The sweet spot for communication and behavior is called assertiveness.
You might associate the term “assertiveness” with training courses that women take to learn to be more confident in traditionally masculine workplaces. But in the past few decades, as men have been taught to smooth over their rough edges — to be less pushy, more sensitive, and more collaborative — a lot of guys have gotten confused as to where to draw the line between aggression and passivity. Anxious to not come off as overbearing, and even sexist, they tend to err on the side of the latter. They’ve lost the ability to navigate between those two rocky shoals, and as a result, many men need to learn, or re-learn, how to be assertive.
What does it mean to be assertive?
Assertiveness is an interpersonal skill in which you demonstrate healthy confidence and are able to stand up for yourself and your rights, while respecting the rights of others. When you’re assertive, you are direct and honest with people. You don’t beat around the bush or expect people to read your mind about what you want. If something is bothering you, you speak up; if you want or need something, you ask. You do all this while maintaining a calm and civil demeanor.
Assertiveness also requires an understanding that while you can make a request or state an opinion, others are well within their right to say no or disagree. You don’t get upset or angry when that happens. You stay in control and work to come to some sort of compromise. When you’re assertive, you understand that you might not get what you want but you will learn that it not only doesn’t hurt to ask, but actually helps to ask as well.
The Benefits of Assertiveness
- Your relationships will improve.
Researchers who study marriage and relationships have found that assertiveness is one of the key attributes that both partners need in order for a relationship to be strong and healthy. If one person feels they aren’t getting their needs met, resentment for their partner ensues (even if it’s the person’s fault for not letting their needs to be known).
- You’ll feel less stressed.
When you’re assertive, you say no to requests that would otherwise spread you too thin. You also lose the anxiety and worry that comes with being overly pre-occupied with what others will think of your choices, preferences, requests or opinions. You feel in control of your life. Studies have shown that individuals who undergo assertiveness training experience less stress than individuals who don’t.
- You’ll gain confidence.
When you’re assertive, you have an internal locus of control. Your attitude and behavior are governed by your own actions or decisions, not the actions and decisions of others. Knowing that you can make changes to improve your own situation is a big-time confidence booster.
- You’ll become less resentful.
As you become more assertive, your relationships will become more enjoyable. You’ll no longer have to swallow the bitter pill of resentment when you say yes to a request or decide to do a favor for someone. When you do something, you do it because you actually want to do it, or you’re okay with doing it as part of the natural give and take of relationships.
Courtesy of: http://www.artofmanliness.com