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Taking the bull by the horns – being assertive

This weekend my boyfriend and I decided to take a drive up to St Andrews from Glasgow.

It was a lovely drive and we had built up quite an appetite.

I did what any sensible human would do – a quick search on Google for some rated lunch spots. (because it would be madness to just walk into a store right?)

We made the decision to pop into a local restaurant serving up what sounded like some amazing bagels.

There was a huge selection and after a long-winded debate, we reached a decision.

assertiveness training courses scotland bagels.

I decided on the salad (being healthy and all that jazz).

My boyfriend Dean decided to go for the toasted bagel topped with melted cheese, roasted tomatoes and basil.

Sounds delicious right?

And I’m sure it would have been.

But what he received was a toasted bagel with a slice of cheese, sliced cold tomato and 1/8th of a basil leaf.

When it comes to food I am assertive.

I will complain if I am unhappy, but Dean avoids complaining.

After about 10 minutes of debate and self-abuse, he eventually asked me to call the waitress over.

assertiveness training courses scotland babies complain.

He started with:

“Excuse me, I am terribly sorry to bother you, but the menu said roasted tomatoes…These are cold and the cheese isn’t melted. Is it possible that I misread the menu? Or is this the wrong order?”


“I’m sorry if I’m being a pain here..”

Finally a response:

“Aye, looks like they toasted the bagel without the cheese and tomato on top. I’ll go and ask…”

After about 5 minutes she returned:

“Yeah, he’s new. He toasted the bagel without the toppings on it. Still the same ingredients though.”

She smiled and off she went.

Assertiveness vs. passiveness

assertiveness training courses scotland boy shouting.

For someone such as me who complains often, this may have been a manageable situation.

But for Dean, it was an earth-shattering, news breaking, heart-pounding moment that he had no idea how to handle.

He was mortified at the idea of me calling her over again so I left it.

He ate half.

Paid the bill and we left.

Some interesting facts you should know as a business owner:

  • For every one customer complaint received by a company, 26 customers fail to articulate their concerns.
  • Consumers tell twice as many people about poor experiences than positive ones.

(Statistics from White House Office of Consumer Affairs)

This whole experience got me thinking:

  1. Why do people feel uncomfortable complaining and being assertive about it?
  2. How should businesses react to complaints?

In this blog, I plan to dig into why people avoid confrontation.

Next week we will look into how businesses should go about dealing with complaints.

Why do people feel uncomfortable asserting themselves?

assertiveness training courses scotland girl looking mean.

There are many situations in life where the words well up in your throat, so close to coming out, but then you panic, hold in the words and turn the other way.

This scenario applies to asserting ourselves in general.

When your boss says:

“Hey Linda, would you work overtime again this weekend and finish that presentation?”

Linda is thinking:

“It’s the 5th weekend in a row and tonight I had planned to spend time with my family.”

The words are on the tip of her tongue…and then:

“Yes of course, anything else you’re needing help with?”

This is a common problem we see here at our Glasgow studios when conducting our assertiveness training courses.

People often feel that if they are assertive and express their true feelings on a subject they could end up offending someone else.

To get what we want, we just need to learn how to express our concerns in a productive manner.

Learn to be assertive.

Aggressiveness, passiveness and assertiveness

assertiveness training courses scotland man struggling with jigsaw pieces.

Dean had three broad options to choose from:

1. Aggressive behaviour

He gets angry, mutters something offensive to the waitress and leaves without paying.

Result? Everyone fails to get what they want.

2. Passive behaviour

He tells the waitress that’s fine, eats half and pays in full.

Result? The restaurant is happy, but Dean’s still hungry and out of pocket.

3. Assertive behaviour

He confidently tells the waitress that he’d like the food remade.

Result? Dean gets what he ordered, and the restaurant gets paid.

Taking on an assertive attitude

assertiveness training courses scotland aberdeen angus bull highland cattle.

We face these choices every day, yet few of us take the bull by the horns and assert ourselves confidently.

You can read more on how to be assertive here.

Imagine the difference in the workplace if you could get it right every time.

You’d be respected by your colleagues, and leave with everyone feeling happy.

Your business would thrive.

We offer both Open Courses and 1-1 courses in Assertiveness Skills.

They’re based on real scenarios in your life.

And it could be the difference between a life of success, or a life of under-heated bagels.

Written by Amy Le Grange, Marketing assistant of Glasgow-based media training and presentation skills firm Pink Elephant Communications.


Photo credit: donnierayjonesThad Zajdowicz ,, dr_zoidberg via / CC

4th April 2017 Featured in: Assertiveness training blogs, Blog By:

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