For me, being assertive is really just a strategic way of being aggressive. The end result is still the same – I don’t take “no” for an answer. But I accomplish it with the right mix of psychology and candor.
If you’re afraid of conformation, consider these stories:
A Recent Furniture Purchase
Recently my wife and I bought some new furniture for our children. We had been planning this for some time and we were very excited. We got a great value and even signed up for a no-interest financing plan (Note: I had the money to pay it off, but I often take advantage of these plans and put that money aside in my high-interest savings account).
The store we purchased it from runs deals all the time (what furniture store doesn’t?) and they said they would honor any upcoming sales within the next 30 days. Lo and behold, it didn’t take but one week to receive an email where the majority of our purchase would have received 20% off!
Of course I was going to take advantage of this offer! So when I called:
1. I was told I could not take advantage of this deal because of our financing plan. No problem. I told them I would just cancel the financing plan and pay for the purchase all at once.
2. Next I was told that the sale wasn’t until 2 days from now and that I’d have to call back then. I told them that even though I could call back in 2 days, I’m sure a manager would honor the sale the now. They finally agreed.
3. My wife stopped into the store (she gets home from work before I do) to handle the canceling of the finance plan and pay for the new invoice. They gave her a lot of run-around and even got a few things wrong on the new bill. The new bill was only $200 less than the previous price. It should have been a lot less.
4. At home, we grabbed the old invoice and went through it line by line. This time, armed with the old invoice and an Excel printout of the calculations, we went back to the store and showed them the errors. After about 30 minutes of review, we were given yet a new invoice with a lower price.
The end result: $460 worth of savings! All for spotting a good deal, taking some initiative to get it, and not giving in when the store initially made a mistake by not giving us the total amount of savings we deserved.
I Almost Didn’t Make It Into College
If you think $460 is nothing, think about if you had never been accepted to college!
When I was in my sophomore year, I had finished all my basic classes and was ready to apply to the College of Engineering. My grade-point average (GPA) was borderline, but I was certain to be accepted.
Then one day I got a letter – A REJECTION letter. I didn’t make it into the College of Engineering. And to make things worse, I was out of basic classes I needed. I was stuck.
Not understanding how this could happen, I called the office and they said my GPA was too low. Naturally, I grabbed my old report cards and hopped on Excel. I calculated out my GPA and no matter how you looked at it, my GPA was high enough.
Time to take action. I drove down to the college office and spoke with an administrator. She keyed up my profile on her computer and we compared grades. Sure enough, she had entered one of my “4.0” grades as a “0.0”. She quickly realized the mistake and changed the grade. All of the sudden my GPA was now acceptable. She told me I’d be accepted immediately and to look for an official letter in the mail.
To think if I had not taken action, I would have never got my degree or been able to pursue the career I have now!
Don’t Be a Pansy!
If you are cordial but firm, people are usually pretty willing to work with you. Don’t be afraid of confrontation. That’s how “they” win. Get in there and take what’s yours. Don’t take no for an answer. Get what you want. You’d be surprised at what little effort it takes to make some pretty big returns!
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art