Let me share a little secret…Folks always test you and you can’t be a coward.

In my early twenties, I had NO problem telling people exactly what I felt the second they got out of line. I was hot headed and eventually it became clear it didn’t serve me to be that way. To correct the problem, I leaned all the way to the other extreme, dialing it down way too much and getting walked on.

How would I solve that problem? Well, the passive, fearful approach doesn’t work. Why? I’ll be answer that by sharing that a coworker had been throwing around their weight and I said and did nothing. In fact, I was afraid to. Tension began to mount and on what seemed to be the worst day of my life, the coworker pushed a button. Well, what do you think if you stretch something to its limit? It bursts!

All my pent up resentment and things I’d wanted to say but didn’t came out in a less than tactful way. My emotional intelligence was at a low and I shocked the living daylights out of the coworker. Did I handle the situation most effectively? Could I have expressed my feelings in a more thoughtful way, assertively communicating that her antics were not serving the efforts of our team to bring about great service to our company and perhaps working with her to find solutions? NOPE.

When being tested, you must work not to be a hotheaded person, quickly getting yourself fired or ruining relationships. Neither can you ignore your feelings and act as if you don’t hurt or aren’t bothered. Balance is key and figuring out how to express a feeling without blame and with a real solution as the aim is the best way to approach matters.

I’ve learned that the hard way. In fact, everyday, I strive for such balance, aiming not to jump down people’s throats also while not cowering in a corner.

Bullies grow up and try their same stuff to try to intimidate you or get a rise out of you. Shifting the power by maintaining your own and asserting yourself clearly and with dignity, you neither lose your cool or remain a target (disclaimer: bonafide crazy people may still test you).

Practice and get in the habit of being firm, not mean, firm. We are all adults and we all should be treated in a respectable way. Give and expect respect. Don’t you agree?

Another quick point is you are a professional, maybe even an entrepreneur. Especially if you’re an entrepreneur, you can NOT let clients treat you like crap. This goes for how they speak to you, how they treat you and when/how they pay you (because there’s this epidemic where some believe they can treat you any kind of way, curse you and pay you IF they feel like it and other nonsense). None of that divas!

Really, stand up and conduct yourselves as strong assertive adults, not children in a play yard. Learn and demonstrate emotional intelligence. Practice effective communications and aim to find solutions with the person causing you trouble.

Try it and let me know how it goes. Also, if you have some tips that you think could help others navigate finding balance between being a firecracker and being a wimp, please do share. I read all your comments.

P.S. Sometimes it’s also good to get a mediator, supervisor, or lawyer/arbitrator involved. It’s a cold world out there, but we’re big girls and we have it under control.