Assertive communication is the ability to speak and interact in a manner that considers and respects the rights and opinions of others while also standing up for your own rights, needs and personal boundaries. Assertive communication skills create opportunities for open discussion with a variety of opinions, needs and choices to be respectfully heard and considered in order to achieve a win-win solution to certain problems. It can strengthen your relationships, reducing stress from conflict and providing you with social support when facing difficult times.
Here are few skills you can practice to be more assertive :
- Being Able to Communicate Openly & Honestly – Honesty goes beyond not lying to the people you communicate with. It’s about the ability to admit your mistakes and confess when you’re wrong. Done in the right way, this kind of openness leads to trust and loyalty. The people you communicate with, know they can trust you and know that you appreciate the relationship.
- Show Respect to Others – Listen with care without interrupting. Not only listen but truly seek to understand. After that respond. If you don’t understand, ask questions to clarify. Do not judge. Be approachable when someone wants to give you a feedback. Never express negative emotions such as pride or anger.
- The Ability to Communicate Clearly – Define your main goal. What are the main ideas you are trying to express or the message you are trying to say? Use short and more direct sentences. Listen more than you talk. Cut the jargon and the words that mean nothing. Ask yourself, “Does what I’m talking makes sense? ”
- The Ability to Control your Emotions – Think before reacting. Find positive things in the situation. Always look ahead. What’s happened has happened. Get to know yourself – analyze your behaviour. Use the situation as motivation. Surround yourself with positive people. Smile. Take a good self care.
- Being Able to Admit Your Mistakes and to Apologize – Use words that express remorse such as “I’m sorry,” “I apologize”, “I deeply regret what I did.”. Offer an explanation. Offer to correct the mistake. Act quickly. Take actions to the apology as quickly as possible. Assure the person that you will do your best not to repeat the mistake. Move on after apologizing.
- Willingness to Achieve a Compromise – See things from other’s point of view. Listen. Make sure that what you’re asking is achievable and reasonable. Calm down. Present your side with facts and examples. If it is possible, suggest more than one possible compromise. Remember both of you need to give up something, not only you.
There are non-verbal skills for assertiveness as well. Here are a few :
- Posture – Open and relaxed posture that display balance.
- Voice – Medium pitch and volume.
- Eye Contact – Maintain positive eye contact.
- Gestures – Use Open and rounded gestures.
- Smiles that show empathy but do not overuse them.
- Distance – Leave enough space.
Assertiveness is a useful communications tool. Its application is contextual and appropriate
in all situations.