Part of being an adult is learning how to effectively communicate with other people. We use communication to function in our jobs, enjoy relationships with others, care for our families, and so many other reasons. If you struggle with clearly communicating with other people, you will surely experience a lot of difficulties in your day-to-day life! The healthiest way to communicate with others is assertively.
Assertive communication involves clearly and calmly expressing what you want without being too passive or too aggressive. Learning to communicate assertively does not guarantee you will have your needs met, but it does make it more likely, and it can improve your relationships with other people.
In addition to assertive communication, I mentioned two other communication styles in the above paragraph: passive and aggressive. Let’s take a closer look at each style:
Passive: thinking your needs don’t matter at all, not talking, not saying what you think, allowing yourself to be bullied, trying to keep the peace. In the end, it damages relationships because other people respect you less.
Aggressive: thinking that only your needs matter, talking over people, looking out for yourself, bullying others, can lead to shouting or violence. This style damages relationships because other people don’t like aggression.
Assertive: recognizing that your needs matter as much as anyone else’s, talking and listening, making sure things are fair for you and others, standing up for yourself, express your point clearly and confidently. This style enhances relationships because other people know where they stand with you.
I hope you can see the benefits of assertive communication. You may wonder how you can switch your communication style to be more assertive. Here are a few tips:
- Use “I” statements – be clear and direct.
Ex: “I would like you to give me a refund.” “I think that what you have done is good, but I would like to see more of…”
- Describe how another person’s behavior makes you feel. This makes other people aware of the consequences of their actions.
Ex: “When you don’t tell me what you are feeling it makes me confused.” “When you raise your voice at me it makes me feel like you don’t respect me.”
- Acknowledge the other person’s viewpoint. Their feelings matter too!
Ex: “I understand you are frustrated by this, but I feel that this is fair to everyone.” “I know you are angry about this.”
There are plenty of opportunities for assertive communication to benefit your daily life. Perhaps you struggle with conflict at work. You may feel like your partner tends to pressure you to do things you are not comfortable with. You may have a bully in your family! Assertive communication ensures you get your feelings heard and known by those around you, which improves relationships and decreases hurt feelings!
Maybe you feel like you need help practicing assertive communication. Skylark’s peer counselors would love to help you become accustomed to this style of communication. Feel free to call or schedule an appointment to get some practical help.