Do you feel that people instantly dismiss your ideas or views? Perhaps you lack the courage to stand up for yourself? Or maybe you’ve found yourself involved in sudden conflicts with others whenever you try to state your opinion as clearly as possible, and people constantly label you as an aggressive person. How to communicate effectively and achieve what you want, without being called a pushover or a steamroller? There is a solution, and it is called assertive communication!
In this article, we’ll explain what exactly assertive communication is and how you can implement it in your everyday life so that you can become the truly confident and strong communicator you were meant to be!
Let’s start with the basics. Most people mistakenly equate assertive communication with aggressive communication. In fact, these communication styles have one fundamental difference: an assertive communicator clearly states their wants and needs, without disregarding the feelings of others. On the other side, the aggressive communicator is a communication bully, repeatedly overpowering and disrespecting others. Aggressive communicators are more often than not, verbally and/or physically abusive.
Every healthy communication is assertive communication!
When you communicate your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in an honest and open manner, standing up for yourself, without violating the rights of others, you’re the best assertive communicator you can be!
Assertive communication is based on three fundamental principles. We call them three C’s so that anybody can instantly memorize them. They are:
- Confidence – You believe in yourself and your ability to communicate on any issue
- Clarity – Your message is clear and understandable
- Control – You communicate in a calm and controlled manner, allowing you to maintain your integrity
Or, to sum it up: If you want to become an assertive communicator, be confident, clear, and in control!
Yes, all of this sounds so great, but some people are naturally confident, and what’s to do if you’re not among them? Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right!”. Your beliefs determine your life. But if you don’t take the chance, you’ll never find out how amazing assertive communicator you can become. So, don’t be scared to take the risk because it will definitely pay off!
Here are just some ways of how assertive communication can improve your life for the better:
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and anger issues
- You’ll know how to stand up for yourself and respect other’s needs
- Improved relationships with your family, colleagues, and acquaintances
- You’ll learn how to resolve conflicts in a collaborative way, with a positive outcome for both sides
- Gain self-confidence
- Get respect from others
- Improve your overall quality of life
Seems great, isn’t it? Let’s see how you can learn to communicate in this way in a few simple steps!
A desire to make positive change for the better is crucial, but if you really want to improve, you first have to understand your communication modus operandi.
Do you tend to be shy, quiet, passive and you wish you had more confidence to state your opinions clearly? Maybe you’re tough as nails, pretty aggressive and you don’t back up from anyone? Or perhaps you’re communicating in a passive-aggressive way, subtly trying to undermine the other side when you know that you just can’t win in an open conflict?
Be honest with yourself, so that you can change for the better! Once you’ve figured out your predominant method of communication, let’s move on to the next step!
Using “I” can do wonders when it comes to boosting your self-respect!
And why does it matter so much?
It lets the other side know what you’re thinking or feeling without sounding accusatory.
On the other hand, aggressive communicators use “You” statements and that’s where most of the arguments begin.
For example, compare these two sentences:
“I am really disappointed you’re 20 minutes late, I won’t be able to stay much longer because I have some other things to do”. (assertive approach)
“You’re always late, I knew I couldn’t count on you for anything!”. (aggressive approach)
Who will respect you if you don’t respect yourself in the first place?
Assertive communication helps you to find that inner confidence. It enables you to learn to set up healthy boundaries, to stand up for your rights, and say “No” to anything you don’t like.
Be aware of the three C’s we mentioned before: be in control, communicate clearly and confidently your wants and needs.
However, always keep your ego in check and have in mind that your feelings, thoughts, and needs are just as important as anyone else’s, but not more important than anyone else’s.
Assertive communicators know when to pay attention to others and empathize with their wants and needs.
Always try to understand how the other person feels. Put yourself in their shoes.
Listen carefully to what they have to say. Don’t interrupt them in any way.
Best communicators know that you can’t always get what you want, but you can solve any conflict constructively (not aggressively!) and meet halfway on almost any issue.
Empathize, practice the art of reflective listening and try to find a solution that will be best for both sides.
The art of successful negotiation involves keeping your emotions at bay, so stay calm whatever you may hear and try to process everything from an objective point of view.
You may wish to become an assertive communicator, but if your body betrays you, you’ll fail miserably!
Do you try to sound confident, while you keep your eyes to the floor? And then you’re surprised why it didn’t work out?
If you want to communicate assertively, your actions must correspond with your words, and vice versa.
Here are some tips on how to practice assertive body language:
- Keep an upright and relaxed body posture
- Maintain a good eye contact
- Try to have a neutral or positive facial expression
- Keep your voice calm, but firm
- Don’t cross your arms or legs
Try to practice all these tips in front of a mirror, so that you’ll immediately see what works out best for you. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Speaking of practice, now it’s the time to show what you’ve learned so far!
Apply these assertive communication tips in your everyday communication. You can start slowly, with your friends and family, and see the effect. Then when you get more confident, you’ll be able to apply it in the workplace, too!
Have in mind that in the beginning, some people may wrongly perceive your sudden assertiveness as aggression, especially if you’ve been shy and withdrawn your whole life. That’s not unusual and it’s a perfectly normal response, but don’t let it discourage you! Be open to any criticism or compliments and try to process that information in a rational way, so that you can evolve and grow.
You have to accept that you can’t be responsible for others’ perception of yourself. Instead, you’re accountable only for your own behavior. If they react angry or resentful toward you, try not to take it personally and stand firmly your ground. As long as you maintain your composure in a respectful way and communicate clearly on your wants and needs without disregarding others, you’ll be able to say that you’ve achieved the impossible: you’ve become an assertive communicator!
Assertive communicators strike the right balance between passivity and aggression, thus creating the best and healthiest form of communication out there!
Standing up for your beliefs while having respect for others, communicating calmly, clearly, and firmly with a desire for constructive problem solving – all of these traits are hallmarks of an assertive communicator!
Always be aware that assertiveness is not aggression, and have in mind that you’re not above others. If you try to act without any regard to others’ feelings, rights, or needs, it’s time to step back and stop acting aggressively.
Whether you want to implement these assertive techniques so that you can improve your life, or you wish to transform your aggression into assertiveness in the best possible way, A Steady Space is here for you, so that you can become the best version of yourself!
Become an assertive communicator and empower your communication with A Steady Space!