Too many men think that being the gentlemen is always the right solution. Sacrifice your desires for the greater good. Be polite. Avoid unnecessary confrontation.
The problem with being a nice guy, is you rarely get what you want.
But when you embrace an assertive mindset and start acting like an assertive Viking, you can start getting the things you actually desire.
Modern Vikings know that kingdoms and plunder are not rewarded to the Nice Guys. Sometimes you need to pickup your axe and shield and stand firm for what you want. You need to have a clear idea of your ambition and your desires, and then be prepared to defend those desires against anyone who challenges them!
Vikings Know What They Want
Being assertive doesn’t mean going to battle, necessarily. It means knowing what’s worth going to battle for.
An assertive Viking is clear about what he wants. He’s sure of his desires an not afraid to express them.
When you start showing this conviction in your desires, and you have a reason to go to battle (if needed), you stop avoiding confrontation – because you know the battle is worth it.
If you’re a nice guy, you never stand in the shield wall because you don’t even know why you’d be standing there. You aren’t sure if you really want to be king or if you want to be the best dam farmer ever. You’re not sure if you want to be a forester or a fisherman. You aren’t sure if you want to bed Helgar or Lagartha tonight.
Nice guys don’t get what they want because they aren’t sure what they want. A Modern Viking knows his desires and knows they’re worth fighting for.
Fighting With The Shield Versus Fighting With The Axe
Often when you express your desires, when you make it known what it is that you want, other people are going to challenge you.
They’re going to challenge you because they spot weakness or because your desires will be at the expense of theirs. Sometimes people challenge your assertiveness just because they’re fuckwits.
However, one of the most important lessons you need to learn as a Viking is how to defend your desires and fight for them.
Because a Viking doesn’t show his assertiveness with the axe – he uses the shield.
Here’s the thing – when you use the axe to attack the other person, you’re no longer being assertive – you’re being aggressive.
Knowing how to hold your shield with a strong arm, pushing back when challenged but always standing firm, is the key to being assertive.
When you attack with the axe, it tends to make other people uncomfortable. They get defensive and guarded themselves, they start lashing out with their own axe. They realise they need to take you down or risk being taken down.
In most situations, being aggressive wont just not get you what you desire, but it will make the situation worse and you could end up with even less.
Why You Can’t Just Berserk Every Situation
Life would be simpler if you could dive into every problem with axe swinging. Whenever you want something, you could pull out the axe and swing it into those blocking your way.
When you want the special daytime menu but it’s already gone past 5pm, it would be great if a few swings of your axe would cut down the waiter and force the manager to still honour the deal.
When your girlfriend wants to watch the cheesy romantic movie instead of the latest Marvel movie, it would b fantastic if a swift brandishing of your axe had her cowering in fear as she obediently carries your popcorn into the latest Thor vs. Hulk cinematic massacre.
When your working group unanimously decides to go with David’s social media strategy over yours, life would be magical if a few overhead swings of your axe would leave only the bloodied and disembowelled corpse of David as lasting reminder of his inferior presentation.
Unfortunately, Modern Vikings need to know when situations call for the axe, and when they call for the shield. when it’s time to be assertive and stand for what you want, defending and pushing back, but respecting your opponents ground too.
How To Fight For What You Want, With Only A Shield
When you want something and you’re expecting to have to fight for it, knowing how to fight with only your shield is an important skill that every Modern Viking needs to learn.
Vikings were famous for their well rehearsed and trained shield tactics in battle. Working as a unit, the Viking shield wall was a formidable but forgotten battle tactic (of course, Roman soldiers had been using a variety of precise shield formations over 1,000 years before the Vikings invaded England and northern Europe). While the strength of the shield wall came from the brotherhood and trust of Viking brothers working together, it was only made possible by each Viking becoming as intimately familiar with his shield as a tool on the battlefield as he was his axe or sword.
Often with a strong iron butt in the centre, a thick wooden shield would not only protect a viking from deathly blows, but it could be used to push back into the enemy or even attack (using the iron butt) if needed.
When it comes to being a Modern Viking, your shield is your conviction and your solid sense of self-worth and confidence. It’s your passion for your desires. It’s your ability to express those desires in a solid and definitive tone that causes your potential opponents to think twice before trying to challenge you.
An assertive Modern Viking is able to fight for what he wants without needing to attack anyone.
How To Express Yourself Assertively
Expressing yourself in an assertive way is the best way to avoid the need to defence your desires at all.
- Using short and concise sentences
- Using definitive language
- Avoid justification or apologies
- Maintaining eye contact
- Speaking clearly and with a confident tonality
By speaking in short, concise and clear sentences, you leave nothing open to interpretation or misunderstanding. And by using definitive language like “it is” instead of “it might be”, you leave no holes or weak spots that other people could exploit and second-guess.
Strong and confident body language ensures that your desires are delivered correctly, and people can see that you’re carrying them with conviction. When you’re timid and nervous about expressing yourself, people will just ignore you and aggressive people will dominate you.
Spotting The Weak In The Shield Wall
Common signs of people who are not being assertive and who’s assertiveness will immediately be challenged:
- Using unsure language such as “maybe” and “perhaps”
- Using way too many words to express themselves
- Not maintaining eye contact
- Trailing off at the end of sentences
- Having weak and unsure tonality
- Being overly courteous, i.e. “If it isn’t too much of a bother…”
- Worrying too much about other people’s desires
Assertive Vikings In The Workplace
When you want to take your Modern Viking assertiveness to the workplace, there are a few additional techniques that will help to ensure your desires are understood and known, whilst avoiding conflict and affecting the professionalism.
Whenever you ask something of your colleagues, and particularly of people who you manage, many people are too quick to justify or even apologise for their requests.
“I’m sorry Dave, but do you mind getting those reports to me today?”
“I’m sorry Sarah but I needed those designs to me on Friday because of the printers, so if it isn’t too much hassle, can you stay an extra 30 minutes to finish them?”
As a manager, but also as a colleague working with your peers, whenever you set a task that you need completing, ensuring it has a clear target with clear deliverables means that everyone knows exactly what you want and by when.
Setting a deadline gives a clear expectation of when it needs to be finished by and with plenty of notice. And presumably, you have a very good reason for that timeline.
However, when you’re too quick to justify that timeline to the person, or even worse you apologise for it, you open yourself to being challenged and people will no longer have faith in your assertiveness.
People confuse this with showing empathy and compassion for your colleague. It’s possible to empathise and that means allowing them to immediately notify you if they have any problems with the task, something blocking it that you weren’t aware of or perhaps they just aren’t confident in their ability to deliver it in that time window.
By allowing everyone to feel heard and respected, you’re empathising with your colleague.
But at the end of the day, your job is to get the tasks delivered and you don’t need to justify or apologise for that. Your colleague doesn’t need to know the reason why you need it by Tuesday, they just need to have faith and belief that you wouldn’t ask for it by Tuesday if you didn’t have a good reason. And that comes with being assertive and having conviction.
Make sure to build a reputation at work of holding people accountable to their deadlines, especially when they miss them, and ensure that people know not to try last minute excuses or complaints with their Modern Viking manager. Your job at work is not to be peoples friends or to be the nice guy – it’s to be the guy who gets shit done.
Bending The Knee
The exception to being assertive in the workplace is if you’re the guy being told what to do by your assertive Modern Viking manager. In this situation, do you suddenly have to stop being a Modern Viking yourself and become a Mr Nice Guy?
Of course not!
Viking Jarls (Norse Earls) ruled their own territory – they had soldiers, they collected tax and they enforced the laws. But they also answered to a King (a Viking King was usually a very successful Jarl who declared himself King and nearby Jarls chose accept his rule).
A Jarl was a powerful warlord in his own right – he could be assertive in expressing his desires to his own people, to his wife and to his brothers. But he also needed to know when to serve his king.
Even the famous Viking Rollo, first ruler of Normandy, once said “never will I bend my knee before any man”, he still accepted the King of France’s rule and pledged his fealty to follow orders if they were given!
As long as you feel respected, and the person asking something of you is not aggressive or overly dominant, there is nothing “not Viking” about going along with their request. As long as you have the opportunity to make yourself heard and everyone in the situation feels comfortable, doing as your asked is just a part of life. It’s part of the system and it’s how shit gets done.
How To Be More Assertive In 3 Steps
To be more assertive, you can follow 3 simple rules:
- Shut up and think about what you actually want and desire from the situation first
- Say what you want with as few words as possible, with definitive language and confident body language
- Have conviction in your decision if it’s challenged and be prepared to fight with the shield!
Image credit: History Channel’s Vikings