When speaking with someone, where is the line drawn between being assertive and being rude? This is a question that I often face, as I like to be neither assertive or rude.
I’m not saying that I allow myself to be walked on, but I’d rather not give the impression that I’m being rude. Since assertiveness often sounds rude, I try to avoid being that way as well, unless it’s absolutely necessary.
This post is inspired by a woman I was standing behind in line yesterday at a local store. The cashier greeted her, but received no response. Instead, immediately upon placing her items on the conveyer belt, the customer sternly told the cashier, “Double bag those.” This she said twice, both in a cold manner. Was she being assertive or rude?
Then she went on to say, once the final item was rung up, “I need a receipt.” She was straightforward, but her tone was harsh. After placing everything in her cart, she left. End of story.
As I watched and listened to this woman, I tried to understand her. Was she speaking in such a demanding tone because of where she grew up? There are some places in this country that I’ve been to, where one must be assertive in order to have their needs met. So if that was the case, I understand. To her, perhaps she was simply being assertive. Maybe she’s one of the nicest people around.
Or, was she being rude? Why did she not respond to the cashier when she was greeted? Or, say “thank you” after she received the receipt that she demanded to be given? Maybe she was just having a bad day. We all have those, so if that was the case, then I understand that as well.
However even on a bad day, a person can and should still be kind to others. Not all things need to be shared. A bad mood is one of them.
I’ll admit that there are times when assertiveness is necessary; at work, with children, for a cause that one is passionate about, etc. However, how does a person go about being assertive without sounding rude? In my opinion, it’s all about how we use our words. There are ways to say things and ways not to.
We can be assertive without being rude, but there’s a fine line there. Where do you draw the line?