One time, as a kid, I watched my dad chew out a Howard Johnson hotel manager for mistakenly double booking our room during a family vacation. I was so shocked to see my normally chill, mild-mannered dad freak the fuck out on someone.
Then as soon as the manager apologized and gave us a free night’s stay in a deluxe suite, it was like someone flipped a switch. In an instant, Dad was all smiles and thankful and soft spoken and… well… back to normal. Like he didn’t just go all Pakistani Hulk on the manager of a HoJo in Anaheim.
Later, I remember him telling my brother and me something he’s repeated many times since then: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you need something done, and it isn’t getting done, then you gotta raise hell, get in faces, voice opinions, be relentless until you get what you need.
Here’s the thing: I realize I suck at this.
It’s not that I’m not assertive. I do advocate for myself and actively call out problems when I see them. It’s just, I have my own way of doing that. I like to call it “charm.” It’s a different way of getting things done, and it’s worked pretty well for me in life so far. It takes a little longer, takes a little more effort and energy, but eventually it works out.
But then there are times when you really need to get ANGRY. Like, stomping-on-the-ground, shuffling-papers-around-on-someone’s-desk-level angry. Times when you need to say “Fuck charm” and go Beast Mode.
This, I am no good at.
“I get angry a lot. It’s just the way I express passion is different from most.”
One of my favorite comedy bits ever is Luther, President Obama’s Anger Translator from Key & Peele. Because I can relate to that. (And yes, I am comparing myself to Barack Obama.)
I get angry, I get passionate, it’s just that I express it in a more… shall we say… diplomatic way.
I’ve always been overweight. As a kid, whenever someone would poke fun at my weight, I’d laugh it off instead of the alternative: go ballistic. I’ve always just found that kind of non-reaction to be more effective. But maybe I should have been more assertive and stood up for myself?
More and more, I’m realizing that you do need to get all up in people’s grillz to get shit done.
Being assertive and ruffling feathers gets shit done. Or at the very least, it says you’re recognizing the bullshit and clapping back, to make sure THEY know you aren’t happy about it. It’s why we protest and get vocal at town halls and angrily call our representatives’ offices. Because that’s the only way it seems to get people to listen.
As a mostly introverted dude, it’s quite the challenge.
But I think there’s a middle ground: A way to stand up for yourself, be assertive, exchange strong words, without doing all the huffing and puffing and pounding on desks.
So it’s not even about getting “mad,” per se…
It’s called “advocating for yourself.”
The first step is to recognize it’s your right to advocate for yourself. Give yourself permission to advocate for yourself.
I always thought I was being inconsiderate or ungrateful or “impolite” if I spoke up and complained about something, but guess what, that’s totally dismissing myself and my needs. (See also: Extreme People Pleasing)
Fact: The only person who will advocate for yourself is YOU.
So do what you need to do.
I’m learning to get more comfortable with raising a stink. Maybe my methods will be slightly different than, say, yelling at hotel managers at Howard Johnsons, but hey, to each their own.
Bottom line: This squeaky wheel is gonna get some grease.