Psychologist McClure draws the distinction between assertiveness and aggressiveness.
Do you end all of your sentences with question marks? Do you take flack from your boss, and never dream of asking for a raise? When you and your hubby argue over the dishes/dirty socks/dust bunnies, do you always feel you've lost? If so, McClure sets out to provide some much-needed answers. Arguing that "Women's traditional way of speaking" often leads them to be treated as doormats, she advocates that women practice "civilized assertiveness." Civilized-assertive women do not allow themselves to be constantly interrupted, nor are they bullies. They are instead collaborative, and unafraid of challenging an idea they feel is misguided. They ask for what they want, stand firmly by their own beliefs, and set limits with the needy leeches in their life. Ever the practical guide, McClure offers exercises designed to prod women into thinking closely about how they communicate (one smart assignment: for one week, never say "I'm sorry," and count the number of times you hear men say it). McClure's prose is clear, and the book is well-organized, with all the familiar ingredients of self-help titles: cartoons, charts, bullet-points and an array of ink colors and fonts. It's filled with pages for taking notes, recording journal entries and considering fill-in-the-blank scenarios (e.g., "When you _______ I feel ______"). McClure also scatters sample dialogue throughout--what to say when a friend inconveniently drops by unannounced or when your husband makes jokes at your expense in a social situation. The overall effect is that of a PowerPoint presentation--light, but user-friendly.
Nothing groundbreaking, but a perfectly readable addition to the women's self-help shelf.