Before learning about assertive communication techniques we need to know what Assertiveness is. Assertiveness can be defined as “the ability to respect others and to make ourselves respected by others”. It is the ability to express your opinions, tastes, and desires or claim your rights while always respecting the rights of others.
If you develop assertive communication you will see positive effects for your physical and emotional health:
- You will reduce stress.
- You will improve your social and personal skills.
- You control impulses or anger better.
- Improve your self-esteem.
- You better understand your emotions.
- You respect yourself and you gain the respect of others.
- Create win-win situations.
- Improve your decision making skills.
- You gain personal and work satisfaction.
Because assertiveness is based on mutual respect, it is an effective communication style to relate to the people around you.
If you are assertive, show respect for yourself because you are able to defend your own interests and express your feelings and thoughts.
On the other hand, it also shows that you are aware of the rights of others and that you are willing to resolve conflicts.
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The important thing is not only what you say, but also or how you say it. Assertive communication techniques gives you the opportunity to send a clear and respectful message.
If you communicate too passively or too aggressively, your message may be lost or simply ignored by others.
Therefore, learning assertive communication techniques that allow you to respect yourself is essential to achieve your goals and feel good about yourself.
How are the people assertive?
If you are assertive you will have the following characteristics:
- You feel free to express your thoughts, desires and feelings.
- You are able to initiate and maintain pleasant relationships with people.
- You know your rights.
- You have control over your impulses and anger. It does not mean that you repress your emotions, but you can control and express them properly.
- You are able to make deals with other people.
- You take into account your needs and those of others.
The communication styles can be classified into:
– Aggressive communication: it is a style in which the rights of the other person are not respected and a verbal and nonverbal language is used violent. Characteristics of this style are: challenging looks, destructive critics, too loud voice tone, violent gestures, raising hands too much, pointing with finger…
– Passive communication: it is a style in which the rights of oneself are not respected and it is a matter of pleasing others. Its characteristics are: look down, do not give personal opinion, do something against one’s own will, always say yes, etc. It can lead to stress, resentment, victimization, or revenge.
– Assertive communication: it is a style in which we respect the rights of the other person and in turn we are aware of ours.
Assertive Communication Techniques
1-Evaluate your style
It is important that you understand what style of communication you have before you begin to change it.
Do you defend your rights? Do you say yes despite not having time? Do you blame others quickly?
2-Use phrases with “I”
Use phrases with “I” reaffirm your opinions, desires and rights.
Also, you will let others know what you think without sounding as if you are accusing: “I do not agree” instead of “you are wrong.”
3-Learn to listen
Being a good communicator includes knowing how to listen well and being a good listener includes maintaining an open attitude towards the message of the person.
Keep eye contact, listen with interest and control your own emotions and thoughts, to avoid reactions, defenses, explanations or interruptions.
This is not to say that you agree with what the other person says, but to know what the other person says.
4-Look for Agreements
It is a skill that is related to negotiation. It is about reaching a win-win agreements, avoiding the extreme positions in which only win or lose someone.
5-Identify your needs and seek to meet them
Do not expect someone to recognize what you need, you could wait forever.
Understand that to realize your full potential you must meet your needs.
Find ways to satisfy your needs without sacrificing those of others.
6- Opposing Assertively. Learn to say no
If someone is urging you to do something that you do not want (which is often the case, for example with sellers), you can give a “no” directly without feeling guilty, giving excuses or explanations.
7-Use non-verbal language
Communication is not just verbal. In fact there is agreement that more than 80% of communication is non-verbal.
Maintain eye contact (without staring), straight position, use hands and speak clearly.
In this article you can find other indications of nonverbal language.
Although it is positive to express your feelings assertively, in certain situations you should control emotions such as anger.
For example, if you are very angry, it is not good for you to discuss with your partner or go to a meeting. In that case you could say things that you regret.
Work on controlling your emotions and keep yourself calm to communicate effectively without your emotions controlling you.
It is about repeating a “no” or a no + phrase repeatedly after a request from the other person or when they try to manipulate you. Try to do it serenely and avoid using the same words.
It is based on confronting criticism in a constructive way. You can do this by asking details about the criticism (how, what, who) and information.
In this way, you will be able to know well what the interlocutor wants to convey. It is convenient that you show yourself in part according to the criticism in case it is true or it can be true, respect the other person, and give thanks.
On the other hand, it is not the same criticism launched by one person with criteria as another by someone without sufficient information.
11-Accept your emotions
One of the obstacles of assertive communication is the belief that having emotions like anger is bad.
However, anger is a normal emotion and you are not bad to feel it.
Of course, it is one thing to feel it and another to express it in a negative way with personal attacks, insults or revenges.
The assertive person accepts their emotions, controls them and expresses them respecting themselves and the other person.
12-Affirms the question clearly
Aggressive or passive people tend to communicate what bothers them by turning around. They also make petitions in detours.
At the same time, they can use affirmations or requests to attack or ask questions with personal attacks included.
For example: “after spending 10 hours with your friends, can you pick me up?” Or “since you care so much about taking care of yourself, can we spend more time together?”
Communicate clearly what you want, if something bothers you, say it assertively and avoid personal covert or sarcastic attacks.
13-Request behavioral changes to another person
In this case, a series of problems can arise, such as: a) accusing the other of having problems, which will worsen the conflict, b) accusing the other of always showing what we want to change, c) believing that he does it maliciously, and d) expressing himself negative consequences.
To do it correctly you must: assume the problem, describe the behavior you want to change, state the consequences of behavior change, express how you feel about the problem, and finalize by requesting behavior change in a concise and clear way.
It is about making others feel open to you and begin to have confidence.
It is based on telling the other person what you like about her: “I like the way you dress”, “Congratulations on the approved test”. Keep a nice facial expression and smile.
It is used to avoid direct conflict when a person speaks to you aggressively or releases any attacking comments. It is based on saying unexpected responses to curb aggressive behavior.
To be assertive you have to reach a balance between aggressive and passive communication.
It means having a sense of self-worth, of recognizing and being able to communicate that you deserve what you want and need. It also means that you defend yourself in complicated situations.
It can be learned, although it does not happen from day to day and it needs practice. The techniques I’ve shown you will help you do it.
As you improve your assertive communication, your overall quality of life will improve.