Dr Hannah Laidley, AFY2, University Hospitals of Leicester
I have less than 12 hours to get two more set of feedback on my TAB but instead of being on the wards begging any and every member of staff who walks past to save me I am burying my head in other things I would rather be doing, like blogging. I didn’t get to an initial meeting with my clinical supervisor in the first three weeks as suggested, instead it took me three months to find a time to meet him. I didn’t get leave to attend a doctor’s appointment the first time I asked so instead I changed the date of the appointment. I won’t bother asking for leave again, even though I haven’t booked all my holiday.
I think it is clear that I need to be more assertive.
But how can I assert myself when I am always the insignificant person in the exchange? In my particular job I come and go, blown about by the winds of change to a different ward every day. The longest rotation I have is 6 months – and that is with me being a ‘part-timer’. Some people know my face but barely anyone knows my name and I don’t expect them to. I’m just a blip while they’re been in the profession for over 20 years. I don’t even know what is right or wrong. I think I read the annual leave policy at my induction but I’m not sure. I just want to keep my head down and get through it. The foundation years are rough enough without making enemies.
There are lots of factors at play when we are deciding whether or not to be assertive.
- Have we tried being assertive in the past and been ignored?
- Are we less than 100% sure that we are correct?
- Is it that big of a deal if we just go along with it?
- Does the other person have the power to make our lives miserable?
- Do we already consider ourselves friendless, powerless, and worthless?
I think most of the time we don’t want to make a fuss and it’s not that big of a deal, so we don’t bother being assertive. But that makes it harder for us to stand up for ourselves when we need to and erodes our self-esteem. It’s not just important for leaders, it’s important for us all. Think of it this way – if you’re not being assertive what are you being?
You don’t speak your mind, so no one knows what you want, and you become resentful.
Based on dishonesty and guilt, this type of communication is not going to make you popular.
You’ve bottled it in for so long that you have an angry outburst, or you start to blame people and make them feel defensive.
We have to be assertive
That doesn’t mean always getting our way but expressing what we want and negotiating a middle ground.
I’m adding it into my personal development plan to be more assertive. I will practice this by asking for things that I want, even if I don’t think that I will get them. The next time someone takes a long time to respond to my email I will let them know that I have been waiting a long time. Being British I will probably have to temper that with lots of ‘I am sure you must be very busy’ and ‘please don’t feel pressured to say yes, I am just asking the question’. Still, I hope I can become more ‘emotionally intelligent’ and developing as a team member and a leader. I’ll get back to you on how I get on expressing myself in this new way.