It was 6:15pm, December 28, 1978. United Airlines flight 173 was making its final approach to Portland International Airport. The passengers were strapped in, prepared for landing, some no doubt dreading the end of the holidays. But in the cockpit, all hell was breaking lose. Flight instruments indicated there was a problem with the landing gear. The domineering Captain McBroom decided to enter into a holding pattern until they could resolve the problem. He did this for almost an hour, while his co-pilot and engineer “politely gave hints” that the fuel supply was dangerously low.
Flight 173 crashed six miles from the runway, killing 10 people, including the flight engineer. The cause of the crash was partially attributed to the flight crew’s “lack of assertiveness” for “not communicating their concerns adequately.”
Most people confuse being assertive – feeling free to voice your beliefs and opinions in a respectful manner - with being aggressive. Women are especially stereotyped this way and consequently avoid being assertive for fear of being considered pushy. Assertiveness is effective communication.
3 Crucial Reasons for Assertiveness in the Workplace:
1. Safety - The most crucial reason for assertiveness in the workplace is to create a safe environment. This may same obvious, but often, even in life and death situations, people still DO NOT speak up. The above case may seem an extreme example, but assertiveness is vital in many workplace issues like sexual harassment, environmental hazards or manipulation by a domineering colleague.
What if you worked late and felt uneasy about walking alone to your car? How many people would ask the security guard to accompany them? Sadly, rather than “bother” the security guard, most people would shrug off their uneasiness and walk into the dark car-park alone.
2. Fostering teamwork, collaboration & innovation – When employees are encouraged to be assertive – to voice their ideas and opinions freely - innovation is ignited, collaboration blossoms and morale increases. When the corporate culture is so that employees fear retribution over their safety or personal dignity, something is wrong. But employees have an equal responsibility to develop a character of assertiveness, so that regardless of the corporate culture they will be able to speak up.
3. Being client/stakeholder focused – The client is not always right and lacking the fortitude to challenge your clients/stakeholders at times can be very detrimental for them. Service professionals must, especially in these challenging times, be able to anticipate developments and act on them. Sometimes the clients/stakeholders may not agree, but overall a service professional with high integrity is much more valuable than a pushover. No one likes a “yes” man.
People Who Lack Assertiveness Experience:
People Who Are Assertive:
Living an Abundant Life
Abundance is not what you have. It’s what you DO with what you have.” ~ Lady Rabia
Nine years ago, I framed a quote by Mary Oliver for my children. It read, “What is it that you plan to do with your one wild, precious life?”
I wanted to remind them that they were cherished, that they should always accept responsibility for their experience and that they should contribute to the betterment of humanity. Oddly enough, that framed quote was one of the few things they grabbed when we were escaping Jordan.
On January 19, 2011, after a rousing reception on our arrival in the Cayman Islands, I happened to look into my daughter’s backpack. And there it was, this little pink frame, shoved haphazardly between two pieces of clothes.
Today, it still sits on their dresser, a testament to our triumph and a constant reminder to make their lives meaningful.
Living an abundant life is not accidental. It’s a choice. Though you may lack financial abundance, the relationships you want or a top career, you can decide to make your life count and commit to changing your life. The person who chooses to act regardless of their circumstance, with a conviction to succeed, must be exceptionally resourceful, resilient and of high self-esteem.
I believe true abundance is holding yourself accountable for your experiences and regardless of the circumstances, or adversity, you can overcome.
So, what is it that YOU plan to do with your one wild, precious life?
Above all things, be courageous.
What's Your Story?
Do you know that the way you think and explain the events in your life affects your emotional wellbeing, your physiology, your behaviour and ultimately your outcomes? Yes, those horrible, silent movies you play over and over in your head are bad for you.
Most of us have been conditioned to think negatively from childhood with constant reminders like, “don’t get your hopes up”. Adults often tell children this to prevent disappointment. We, in turn, carry this mentally into adulthood, using pessimistic explanations for events I refer to as “stuff that happens”.
Event: A horrible break-up.
Your explanation: All men are dogs...maybe he would have been more attracted to me if I were slimmer...I will never find anyone...I should have listened to my mother.
Seeing the darker side of things is not always bad - it allows you to feel less stressed. But this thought process prepares you for failure, it erodes your hope and it is totally disempowering.
So, how do those happy-go-lucky people think?
Optimistic people tend to explain adversity and challenges as “local – just this issue” and “temporary - it won’t last forever.” Pessimists explain adversity and challenges as “global – it’s everywhere” and “permanent – it’s going to always be like this.”
What “spin” do you put on things? And how can you stop?
Before you can stop the negative story’s you weave, you have to be more mindful of your thoughts and how you explain the “stuff that happens”.
During my ordeal to recover my children from the Kingdom of Jordan, I became very mindful of how my thoughts empowered me. I had travelled alone to Jordan with only a small amount of money. I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have a job. But I summoned up my courage and decided that I was going to do whatever it took to get my children back.
Once, when a Jordanian man learned why I had come to Jordan, his eyes widened and his jaw dropped with shock.
“You are stupid!” he said.
“Pardon me?” I snapped.
“You are stupid to come here with no money, no job and no family to protect you”.
I smiled then.
“I never thought of it that way,” I replied. “I just thought I was being courageous.”
My version of my story was much more empowering than wallowing in self pity, contemplating the dire circumstances of my reality.
In my story, I played the spirited protagonist; the feisty, little underdog, who was hell-bent on recovering her children. Many days, I was hungry, lonely and deathly cold, but my account inspired me to remain vigilant. My version of that harrowing ordeal was one that always ended in triumph. It gave me hope and allowed me to constantly renew my conviction.
What’s your story? How do you explain the “stuff that happens” in your life?
Remember this is YOUR STORY, so you, alone, should determine how it will unfold.
Be the hero of your story and make your life epic.
Lady Rabia Abdul-Hakim is a mu;ti-genre author, international speaker, Communications & Branding Strategist for Go Women Global and a Champion of the UN's Women's Empowerment Principles . She is also the Founder & CEO of ContessaBlack Entertainment and the former Co-founder of BIG Cause (Arabia), a cause marketing communications agency in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.