A white male contractor working nearby my residence used my assigned and numbered parking space five times and was caught, honked at, and asked repeatedly to move his white truck. This occurred five times over a period of two days. I thought, "Maybe he will just figure it out that it's mine. He probably needs to park there because he is moving work materials that are heavy. I don't want to have a problem with this guy." I stayed silent. I made it okay for his needs to be more important than my rights. This is called passive communication.
The sixth time it happened, I had gone to the post office to return home 10 minutes later to see the white truck in my numbered and assigned parking space yet again. I honked and again, he slowly walked to his truck with his sunglasses on, and while acting too cool for school, he moved his truck as if he was doing me a favor. My blood began to boil and impulses entered my mind to explode. I fantasized for a moment about losing control on this very entitled human being. That would have resulted in aggressive communication and for some folks, could have escalated to a physical altercation.
On the sixth time, he grumbled "sorry" while walking past my open driver's side window with his sunglasses on, failing to make eye contact. I approached him on the way to my front door and with a straight posture and firm tone, I stated, "Do not park in my space. You have done that at least five times over the past two days. It is assigned to me and included in my rent." He rolled his eyes and muttered indirectly, "Okay. Alright...geez. I won't park there!"
Regardless of the frustrating response of the person, I got my parking spot back using the skill of assertiveness. I spoke up for my rights and avoided what could have been an explosive conflict.
We get what we want quickly and effective through assertive and clear communication with direct eye contact, firm tone, and an expression of our rights. Teaching assertiveness skills is one of my favorite things to do in psychotherapy with clients who struggle with explosive reactions or an inability to set boundaries with others. I like to use role-playing where I play the role of the most difficult person in the client's life to give my client the opportunity to finess new tools and skills in the safety of the therapy room.