In life, there are often times when you need to have uncomfortable conversations. Assertively communicating in a way that is clear and direct is one of the most effective ways of minimizing conflict, preventing misunderstandings, and creating a positive environment. When you practice assertive communication, you are giving equal respect to the rights and needs of yourself and others. The Center for Clinical Interventions provides information on how to behave and communicate assertively, which we will review in this article.
People often confuse aggression with assertiveness, but they are very different. In aggressive communication, you are placing your own rights and needs above the rights and needs of others. Aggressive communication does the following:
- Forces your opinions on others
- Does not allow compromises
- Damages relationships
Passive communication is when you place the rights and needs of others above your own. Passive communication does the following:
- Allows for someone to be bullied or ignored
- Leads to low self-esteem
- Leads you to undermine your opinions by using phrases such as: only if you don’t mind or whatever you want, I don’t care
How to Communicate Assertively:
- State your point of view in a clear and direct manner
- Assertive communication can be stressful at first. Remember to take a breath and maintain relaxed and confident body language.
- Avoid exaggerating by using words like always and For example, instead of saying, “You’re always late!” Try saying, “You are 20 minutes late for the third time this week.”
- Discuss facts rather than making judgments. For example, instead of saying, “You’re trying to get out of doing the group assignment!” Try saying, “Your portion of the assignment needs to be one page longer.”
- Use “I statements” that communicate your feelings without being accusatory. For example, instead of saying, “You’re such a slob!” Try saying “I feel frustrated when you leave your clothes on the floor.”
If you are interested in learning about how cognitive behavior therapy can assist people in practicing assertive communication contact us to schedule a free phone consultation.
Author Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA.