I got to practice some assertiveness skills this morning and couldn’t wait to share it with you.
One of my girls is going to become a junior volunteer at a local hospital. As part of the application process, she has to submit 2 letters of recommendation from people that aren’t related to her.
This is something I have to do for her. She is too shy to ask anyone on her own, and she’s kind of young besides. Last week I mentioned I want to work on learning how to be assertive.
This was my first test so to speak…
Asking someone to write a letter of recommendation would entail me sort of being at the mercy of whoever I asked. My daughter is not old enough to have done any real work on her own, such as babysitting or anything concrete like that.
My daughter is doing this volunteering with her good friend and while I am friendly with her friend’s mother, we are not that close. The mom lives in my neighborhood and is in “the mom clique” while I am not. The friend’s mom said in a recent conversation that she was getting her daughter’s letters ready. And I just didn’t say anything because I could not, in my mind, decide who on earth I would even ask. My social anxiety kicked in bad.
I started to brainstorm in my head who I could ask for these letters of recommendation.
My first instinct was to ask my 2 sisters-in-law and just put together some b.s. letter. Since they don’t have the same last name as me, no one would ever know.
Thinking about doing that really bothered me. I thought, how pathetic am I to lie on a volunteer application, just because I’m afraid to step up and ask a few moms to help me out? Where are my assertiveness skills?
I do realize that this has nothing to do with my daughter and everything to do with me and my social anxiety. Me asking for a favor is putting myself in a position to be…rejected, judged… possibly gossiped about (ok I’m being paranoid), but you get the picture. It puts me in a vulnerable position and I am not comfortable with that.
I was busy all weekend but do you know this little task of figuring out who to ask and how I would do it was in the back of my mind the entire time?
So I decided to squash these very familiar feelings of low self esteem and just step up to the plate showing I can be assertive and appropriate.
What I did first:
I centered myself and made sure I knew what I would say and how I would say it. Then I called the friend’s mom who I mentioned above and just asked, Hey would you be able to write that letter?
She was absolutely fine with it, and said yes right away. In fact, she asked me to write one for her daughter….! Wow! So she didn’t have her 2 letters all signed sealed and delivered either.
Man, that was so easy. And what a waste of a weekend to worry and fret about this.
While I was on feeling good about asking for the favor and getting a positive response, I took it a step further. Instead of crafting the 2nd letter of recommendation myslef or asking a relative to do it, I called another neighbor mom.
This lady (also in the mom clique) was fine with it too. No problem, no drama. Easy peasy. Once I actually stopped worrying about it and just asked.
Developing my assertiveness skills feels good. I can tell that just like coping with anxiety, this is a skill that has to be practiced. I have to seek out ways to apply assertiveness skills, including asking for favors. I have to learn how to have that uncomfortable vulnerable feeling, but not let it shut me down.
This is feeling the fear and doing it anyways, or doing it afraid.
In my efforts to enhance my self esteem and feel good about myself, I will look for more opportunities to use healthy assertiveness skills.
I wish you peace,
Fear of being assertive is one of my social anxiety symptoms. For a comprehensive list of social anxiety symptoms see this post.