Assertive, Aggressive, or Inappropriate? You Decide

By in Make Money, Wealth | 10 comments

“Every choice you make has an end result.” Zig Zigler

Realize this universal truth and act accordingly. As long as you make a conscious choice in how you live your life, you will be content.



MAIN TOPIC: Sell Stuff & Make Money

Picture this; I’m drinking my coffee in the local café, working on my laptop, and minding my own business.  Having forgotten my standard ear plugs, I was subjected to a rather loud conversation by two moms at the next table. Normally, I’m quite adept at tuning out extraneous stimuli, but for some reason (maybe because they were rather loud), I picked up way more of their conversation than I desired. Amid the comments about Johnny’s lengthy swim practices and hubby’s golfing, mom #1 mentioned that 7 year old Sammy was interested in the keyboard, and that she really should pick one up for him

This is when the wheels began turning. Although I lean towards the assertive, I do attempt to attend to social conventions. Here’s the dilemma, I have a perfectly adequate keyboard sitting in the basement in the “pending garage sale” pile, do I mention it or not? (I am on a campaign to DECLUTTER, inspired by Jacob at Early Retirement Extreme and Man vs. Debt. )

MY PROBLEM: Do I mention the keyboard FOR SALE to the stranger (risking appearing nosey and aggressive), or do I leave it in the “to be sold at garage sale pile”?

You probably figured it out already, but I politely mentioned the keyboard to stranger mom #1 who took my phone number.


What do you think, was I out of line or not? My thinking was as follows, “I have a keyboard that will be sold soon and if this woman was looking for one for her son, I WAS BEING HELPFUL.”  Although, I would benefit if she bought the keyboard, she would too, as I would save her time (easily available, in her neighborhood), and money (discounted and lightly used). 

Contrast this story with Simon, a neighbor, who is so UNASSERTIVE, that he recently purchased a juicer for $150.00 at Williams Sonoma, because he worried that if he declined the purchase, the sales clerk would think he was not wealthy! And Simon thought that being thought of as poor was worse than buying an appliance he could not afford! (And Simon is by no means wealthy!) 

Every day we make choices about how we wish to spend our money and our time. Those choices add up over a lifetime and can make the difference between wealth and lack thereof. I chose to risk challenging convention a bit by offering the keyboard to a stranger, mom #1, in the hopes of making a quick $80 bucks. Did I care if she thought I was a bit quirky or out of line? Not really, I define myself by my choices and living true to my values. I saw this action as offering a “win win” proposition. If she didn’t see it that way, that was her problem. 

What do you think? What would you have done?


Get a notebook and label it: “(your name) Personal Finance” and keep it by the computer. Use it to keep all of your personal finance goals, thoughts, activities, and plans.

Take a risk and be assertive in your quest for wealth. Do something you wouldn’t ordinarily do either personally or financially. Remember to be sensible, not foolhearty!

image credit: Dogdejaya 


  1. If the $150 juicer is more than he can afford, then your neighbor is probably not wealthy. That’s fine. There are far worse things than not being wealthy. For example, being pressured into purchases that are beyond your budget is one of them. Friendly Regards,

    Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    July 31, 2010

  2. I think you did the right thing. I do it all the time and probably in less appropriate circumstances. I’m the one looking at the book you are studying and suggesting one you might like more. I’m the one suggesting a better movie than the one you’re holding. I guess I’m nosy.
    On the other hand I would appreciate it if you told me of a keyboard if I was looking for one (which I’m not!).
    Simon needs counseling! Although Shawn is right that there is nothing wrong about not being wealthy there is a problem if it’s because you’re worried about what sales clerk think!

    DIY Investor

    August 1, 2010

  3. I would have done the same thing….mentioning my keyboard. But don’t be surprised if you never hear from her!

    As for your neighbor, that sounds like a self imposed problem. I guarantee that sales clerk would forget all about him and never think of him again if he walked out without making a purchase.


    August 1, 2010

  4. @Shawn, Of course, your net worth definitely does not equal your self worth, but, I think my neighbor has to give up worrying about what the “sales clerk” thinks of him.
    @DIY- I like your style, I don’t mind when strangers engage to offer helpful suggestions (in moderation). I agree that Simon needs counseling, but this is one area where I’m going to MYOB!
    @Mysti- You are correct, no call from mom #1!
    To all—thanks for continuing the discussion-I feel vindicated now that you are on my “assertive” side.


    August 1, 2010

  5. On the one hand, you don’t want to seem as eavesdropping, but if they were making their conversation so apparent to all, then there’s not much you could have done about that 😉

    I think what you did was fine, and it was a form of assertiveness that would have helped both both of you out, as you said. Learning to stand up to salesmen is another issue altogether, and one should keep in mind that those people are not your friends, and it’s ok to disappoint them (without necessarily being rude about it).


    August 1, 2010

  6. @Kevin, Thanks for adding to the conversation, and of course not calling me inappropriate :). I don’t think there’s much hope for my neighbor, unfortunately. Best, Barb


    August 2, 2010

  7. I would have done what you did and appreciate it when people do it to me.

    I knwo I talk loudly, and if I am talking in a public place like a coffee shop, I know people will naturally hear my conversation. It’s not their fault I am a natural loud talker and will hear things, so I don’t consider it eavesdropping if someone hears me.

    Love yoru site btw.

    Aspiring Millionaire

    August 3, 2010

  8. I would have done the same thing. The point is you were trying to be helpful; you wanted to get rid of your keyboard, and they needed one. As for being nosy, they were the ones sharing their conversation with the entire coffee shop by talking loudly. If for a moment they thought you were being nosy, they quickly got over it when you had something they needed or wanted.

    As for your friend Simon, he needs to take some pointers from you!

    Little House

    August 3, 2010

  9. @Aspiring-I like the way you think (is it just because you think like I do?) Thank you for your input.
    @Little House-Wow, I couldn’t have said it better! Thank you, Barb


    August 3, 2010


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