Clarity and Assertiveness


Do you miss achieving your life and career goals at times?

Then take a second look at how you define your goals and express them.

For some time I have been working with a C-Level Executive who, a few months ago, chucked a plush job he had been holding for a good many years. This happened in the midst of the 2020 COVID pandemic when many others were tightening their holds on whatever was worthy of getting a stronger hold on. Upon questioning, I gathered that he was tired of the job and that he had potential that needed to be unleashed. Therefore, he signed off, took a vacation, took up newer studies, and acquired new skills, which decidedly made him sharper, and a force to be reckoned with in his field of choice was Sales and MArketing.

Lo behold, job offers began to pour in from friends, former colleagues, and companies that knew of his capabilities and character.

One of the calls came from a large, national banking group. My client, let us call him John Doeromeo, was excited and agreed for the first interview. ‘Chat,’ they called it instead of an interview. John came to me and asked for tips and a mock interview. Not that he needed any self-presentation tips, but I guess he just felt it might make me feel good as his coach.

Alright, so what are your reasons for wanting this job?

Actually, I do not think that I want this job. It is not an industry I want to be in.

Huh, so why so the interview?

I just want to test the market test my abilities to respond in an interview.

Will that be fair to them and to the person who referred you?

You are right. No, it will not. Well, since I have already committed to the chat, I might as well hear what they have to say. He defended.

What kind of industry do you want to be in?

Something global, something innovative, and perhaps with a reputable consumer brand. Lego?”

Sure. Okay, good luck with that!

A few days later, on the phone.

Yo coach, that was not the first interview it was their final one. They already made me an offer to join them.

I thought you did not want the job.

Yes, I did not but they were very impressed with the marketing ideas I had for their business.

You presented plans for the first interview. How does that align with you not wanting the job in the first place?

What do you mean, Coach?

You did not WANT the job, yet you shared ideas. What kind of message are you sending?

Right, Coach! I will send them and be as direct as possible. Besides their offer was ridiculously low.

Again, what exactly are we turning down?

The job. The industry.

Another few days later, on the phone again.

Coach, they doubled their offer and it is still Insulting!

They did! Did you state exactly what your career dreams were?

Yes, I thanked them for their first offer and told them that I used to make much more and was not sure about working for a bank.

And, that you think was straight and assertive enough?

I thought I would be polite and break it gently to them.

Since that did not work would you like to try to be more direct?

Hmm, I see your point. They will be calling me soon and I will be firm.

A day later.

Coach that bank person sent an email, threw in a chauffeur-driven SUV, and still want to talk to me. Now what? Help me!

End of story.

John and I then had a long, slow chat about becoming truly clear, about what is that we desire. His words and behavior clouded his true intentions not just to himself but to his audience too. From the viewpoint of his audience, it seemed as if he were interested and his discussions about monetary issues, always, come across as a negotiation for more money.

John saw the wisdom in these exchanges and as of now, I believe he may still be composing his thoughts on how to say a proper, polite, and absolute no.

now an example like this may appear light and easy to spot by many of us but when we are in the midst of conversations such as this one we tend to water down our exact wants, creating confusion and strained relationships.

Becoming squeaky clean and clear about our wants and goals takes intellect and willpower. Expressing our desires in simple, straight and non-offensive assertions may appear harsh to start with, but clears our paths faster.

Five tips for you:

  1. Think through thoroughly. Write down exactly what is it that you want with your career or your business. Taking time out to think deeply and then putting pen on paper provides clarity for yourself and locks down the goal.
  2. Share it with a friend. Expressing our desires in simple terms to a friend has the effect of revalidation upon our own selves. When we hear our intentions being framed into expressions, the effect is like that of a mantra.
  3. Assert the language. State the goals in clear, precise and future-realized words like-“At the end of the 3rd quarter of next year, I will be heading the marketing department of LEGO Asia.” When you do this, you are creating the exact frame to fit yourself into.
  4. Be unapologetic. Many years I came across a concept, “fear of success.” It took me a while to understand it. It is not the first success that we hesitate from but from the facts that we may to sustain the success and continue to strive harder, we hesitate considering the misconceived and ill side effects of say getting rich. Alternatively, we hesitate from happiness fearing the nights that may follow after. These fears are unfounded. We are meant to shine
  5. Stay on the path. Sometimes, after we assign a timeline to our goals we cannot really assess if external circumstances will influence our assessments of time. Take for example, how drastically the pandemic of 2020 set back so many plans and businesses.

The world in all its diverse glory is also quite complicated; the task of connecting the dots in life to move forward is a complex process. Getting a high-resolution clarity on our intentions lays down a very strong cornerstone to build our castles upon. Exerting assertiveness at work and in relationships is not a mean and selfish behavior but is the simplest part of growth and development. The words of Marianne Williamson do justice and act as boosters to being clear and assertive with our intentions: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”

When my friend, John Doeromeo, was in conversation with the bank, he was saying no in a roundabout way and the bank was reading it as his way of negotiating for more.  Like John, many of us, often, end up short-changing our desires out of courtesy and compassion towards others. There is no harm in that, but do consider the fact that like charity, courtesy and compassion can begin at home.


Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash