Don't Show Weakness

"Never cry."
"Give it to them before they give it to you."
"Don't trust anyone."
"Be on your guard."
"What are you, a fool?"
"Grow up."

This kind of thinking kills companies and kills people too. 

It's true: Some people are greedy and cold and grasping for power. Others have too many problems. They cope by acting them out on others. Some cultures are messed up. Stagnant. Fearful. Besieged. Cutthroat.

What is the best response for the individual? Must we choose between Clint Eastwood type leathery toughness and its opposite, despair and blubbering?

Not really. In any situation, bombastic bullying at the one extreme and excessively giving in on the other are both maladaptive. Aggression just adds fuel to the fire, making others angry at you. Martyrdom leaves you angry at yourself. 

Psychologists tell us that assertiveness is a middle path. Seeing reality for what it is, we take in the environment and respond appropriately--

1. Self-Defense: Enforcing reasonable boundaries.
2. Diplomacy: Keeping our commitments and thus relationships alive. 
3. Authenticity: Being real - being true to ourselves.

Super-toughness may sound good. Accommodation might seem safe. But in the end both of these extremes create more problems than they solve, and cost the individual a lot more than they give back.

About

Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal is an author, independent brand researcher, and adjunct marketing professor with 20 years of varied experience. An avid researcher and prolific, creative writer, Dr. Blumenthal's interests span communication, marketing, qualitative media content analysis, political rhetoric, propaganda, leadership, management, organizational development, and more. An engaged citizen, she has for several years worked to raise awareness around child sex trafficking and the dangers of corruption at @drdannielle on Twitter. You can find her articles at Medium, www.AllThingsBrand.com and www.DannielleBlumenthal.com, and she frequently answers questions on Quora. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own.