How Do I Check Myself without Neglecting Myself?
May 3, 2019 5:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm lucky in the sense that don't usually need to be a pain in the butt in order to get fair treatment. But I'm in a situation right now where it is required and effective. Maybe because I am out of practice, I don't know the boundary between 1) "being a squeaky wheel" in order to get some proverbial oil and 2) being overly demanding and acting like the world owes me everything. How do you know when to dial back the assertiveness? Any rules of thumb?

Thanks and sorry for the lack of details. Decided it was best to keep it relatively abstract. If it helps, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being gum on my shoe and 10 being something super serious, this is about a 5.5. Maybe a 6.5 actually.
posted by Buddy_Boy to Human Relations (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I started to answer as if this was about work, then wondered if it was about health and realized that would change my answer.

Demanding vs overly demanding is subjective to some degree.

* Is what you are asking for within the power of those you are asking?
* Is it within the norm? Do others regularly ask for this?
* Does it take significant extra effort on their part to carry it out?
* Is the extra effort merited?
* Do you acknowledge, through your behavior, that you are dealing with other humans even if they are not being as efficient/effective as you might like?
* Do you thank them when they come through for you?
* If your squeaking damages relationships, is it worth it?

It's possible the book The No Asshole Rule might be an interesting read. The author says it's sometimes necessary to be an asshole (not suggesting that you are!), but generally promotes not being an asshole and not tolerating assholery.
posted by bunderful at 6:39 PM on May 3, 2019 [27 favorites]

Thanks, bunderful, for the lovely answer. I won't threadsit, but thank you that was great.
posted by Buddy_Boy at 6:42 PM on May 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

I try to look at it what would I want a general person in my situation to do? Take a step back and try to think from the perspective of a third party can help to make me find that balance.
posted by Carillon at 6:50 PM on May 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

In the similar vein of healthcare (but could probably be effectively applied elsewhere) - I've seen a post going around Instagram about asserting yourself at the doctor's.
If you request a procedure/consult/etc and the practitioner refuses, ask them (in plain neutral language) to please notate that they refused the ___ in your chart. A small way to CYA but also assert yourself. Best of luck.
posted by PaulaSchultz at 8:17 PM on May 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

Two more questions for the checklist:
* Does your request put those you are asking at risk (ex. ethics or code of conduct violations that could result in job loss)?
* Does fulfilling your request mean prioritizing your needs over similarly-important or more important needs of others?

For the record, I think there are justifiable exceptions to nearly every one of these, depending.

Good luck with your situation.
posted by bunderful at 5:35 AM on May 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) has a "dime game" worksheet for answering just this question. PDF here. It's pretty close to bunderful's list, with a couple extra points. It factors in: capability, priorities, self-respect, rights, authority, relationship, give and take, homework, and timing. The second page has a spectrum on it for how strongly to ask (or say no to a request) based on your "score" from the first page.
posted by lazuli at 8:05 AM on May 4, 2019 [6 favorites]

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