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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Silence Never Makes Me Feel Better

When I feel disappointed, I try to express it assertively, if it's worth it to me to do so. If I don't make the effort to say something, I usually run the event or problem over and over in my head and don't feel resolved.

Sometimes writing letters or in today's world, a thoughtful email, helps me put an issue to bed.

For Christmas for the past few years, I've given my nephews and nieces (all of whom have most of what they might want in the way of material things) donations to the Heifer project. I'm a beekeeper myself, so I usually give a hive of bees in each of their names as donations to the Heifer Project.

The Heifer Project page announces that you can notify the people in whose names you made donations via a printed out donation card that you send to them via US Mail or by E Card. In the past, I've always printed out the actual card and sent it to my relatives whom I was honoring. This year I thought, "Why not save a tree and keep the gas pollution down and send the E Card?"

On the Heifer Project page, the donor gets to pick the E Card that represents what you are donating: flocks of chickens, flocks of ducks, a sheep, beehives, etc. I donated the amount for six beehives and chose the beekeeper examining a frame of honey as the picture for my E Card.

Finishing up the process meant entering each relative's email and making a personal gift message. To each, I said that I was donating in their name and hoped they had a Merry Christmas, but on only a couple did I mention that I was donating bees since I thought the picture on the card spoke for itself.

I got an email thank you from my niece, Rachel, and scrolled down and clicked on the Heifer project link to see what the card looked like that she got. To my shock, there was the card, but no picture. Now I realize there's some remote possibility that my computer didn't allow the picture to show but I was greatly disappointed.

I went onto the Heifer Project site, found "contact us," went through the FAQs and didn't find this problem addressed. So I wrote the following to customer service:

For Christmas, I sent donations of beehives in honor of six of my nephews and nieces. They received E Cards, but there was no picture of the beekeeper on the card and the card did not in any other way indicate that I had given hives of bees because I assumed they would see the bees in the picture.

I am a beekeeper so it means a lot to me to donate beehives. I am very disappointed because I wanted them to know I had spent the money for bees and not just made a general donation.

If your E Cards are not sent in the way they are represented on the site (with an included picture of the bees), then I don’t think you should offer them.

If I donate next year, I will not use an E Card and will instead waste trees printing the print-out cards that you also make available.

In Disappointment,

Linda Tillman

I don't know if I'll get a response, but simply writing this email made me feel better.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Romantic Assertiveness

At Thanksgiving my youngest daughter flew to Charlottesville, Va. From Atlanta that means that you fly to Charlotte, NC and get on a smaller plane (about a 40 seater) to go the rest of the way. As the small plane approached Charlottesville, a military man took the microphone that the staff uses.

He said, "I need 12 people on this plane to help me ask my girlfriend to marry me! Raise your hand if you are willing to help me."

This assertive request was met with 12 volunteers, including my daughter.

The man had 12 roses and he wanted each of the volunteers to carry a rose out to hand to his soon-to-be-fiance. He would come after the roses had been delivered and propose to her.

My daughter and another girl were the first two and had to determine who this right girl was. The man showed them a picture of her and told them her name.

They studied the crowd as they got off of the plane and decided that they knew who the girl was. They walked up to her. "Are you XXX?" they asked. When she said, "Yes," they each handed her a rose.

One after another the people exited the plane and each handed a rose to this astonished girl. Most of rose-deliverers hung around to see the end of the story. Finally after all the roses had been delivered, the military man came off of the plane, dropped to his knee and asked her to marry him.

I asked my daughter if the girl said yes. "Mother!" she said, "Of course she did."

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Compliments and Assertiveness

Giving someone a compliment is an assertive act. When you say something positive to someone else , you are taking a risk by asserting your opinion. You may be met with any number of responses.
  • The recipient of your compliment may blow you off.
You say: "I love the way you wrote that letter."
Response: "Oh, anybody would have said the same thing."
  • The recipient of your compliment may react negatively
You say: "That briefcase really makes you look like the professional you are."
Response: "My stepfather gave it to me so I feel like I HAVE to carry it around."
  • The recipient of your compliment may react in an unexpected way
You say: "I was so impressed with the stand you took in that planning meeting."
Response: The recipient bursts into tears, "Yes, but did you see how Mr. X looked at me - I know I'm going to get called on the carpet."

So as you can see, it is an assertive act to give a compliment because although nothing is required of the other person in the way of a response, there are many ways in which someone can respond.

On your part, work on the assertive challenge of receiving compliments well. An assertive way to receive a compliment is simply to say, "Thank you." Fight any effort to throw away the compliment, negate the compliment or react in any other way than a simple thank you.

If you can achieve this, you will have taken a step in the direction of good assertiveness!