Netflix's feel good show of Covid served up a rom-com delight last Friday that made my heart sing. While I enjoyed the nods to Jerry McGuire, Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally etc, that's not what prompted me to write this post. I'm writing this because I love they way they tackled assertive communication. Here's why:
1. They flipped the script by having this dilemma happen to a man, not a woman.
YAY - men minimize too and it can be just a damaging. I have come across many men who minimize in real life....and speak like Nate did at the start....and they too are hampered by this pervasive and problematic communication style. This is how Nate started off.
Nate: Good afternoon. Sorry, I was waiting for you to ask if-- if I needed anything. So, this is my mom and dad's favorite restaurant and Friday's their 35th wedding anniversary,
Restaurant Hostess: What time, then?
Nate: Oh, 7:30, three people and really wanna make sure we get the window table.
Restaurant Hostess: Hey. Hi. Good news. Oh! We can set aside the table in the corner for you.
Nate: Wonderful. Um, I just-- I would really like the window table, you know, just to impress my dad.
Restaurant Hostess: I'm sorry. I can't guarantee a reservation for the window table.
Nate - Okay. Thank you.
Yikes. Which of us haven't been there at some point too? In an attempt to be polite and friendly, we inadvertently come across as weak and passive and quickly find ourselves not really being heard. This is a common issue that affects us all and men can help women just as easily as women can help men.
2. Nate's eyes are opened. Once we see something clearly, it's impossible to unsee it.
He had no idea that he was minimizing himself and that it was the root of his problem. Many of us routinely minimize when we are attempting to be polite/ friendly/not too pushy. We're quite unaware that these habits/choices may be undermining the impressions we create on others. Nate, upset at his lack of progress, goes to Keeley to ask her to help make him famous as this is the fix he thinks will get him more of the things he wants in life. She stops him in his tracks and ropes in Rebecca. Together they help Nate understand that it's his communication style that needs fixing. If you're curious where you line up with your own word choices, here's a 2 minute quiz.
3. Rebecca debunks a few misconceptions about being assertive and shares a few tips.
Rebecca makes an important distinction between being assertive vs aggressive, "You don't need to be loud Nathan. You just need to be commanding." We also see Nate falsely assume that Rebecca's top position in the organization affords her VOICE, respect and attention from all audiences. "With all due respect, it's different for me, Miss Welton. You command every room you walk into." To which Rebecca counters with some Double Bind realness and a dose of Amy Cuddy Here's their exchange.
Rebecca: Oh-- Hardly. Have you ever been in a room full of football club chairmen?
Rebecca: Every time I walk into one of those meetings, they look at me like some schoolgirl with pigtails. But I have a secret: I make myself big. Before I go into the room, I find somewhere private, I stand up on my tiptoes, put my arms in the air and make myself as big as possible to feel my own power. Like this.
Source: Apple TV+
Rebecca: It's a bit silly, but it works for me. Find your own thing. But don't back down, Nathan. You deserve whatever you want.
We'll take your last piece of advice Rebecca, it's universal. Find what works for you to get into a powerful mindset, stay resolute and go for what you want. I'll close this one out with the full length version of the theme song by Marcus Mumford. Enjoy!