Assertive communication skills are vital for accelerating the process of getting things done and working with co-workers, friends, and family.
It can be a great tool to have in a variety of situations and can result in more favorable relationships. There is room for assertive communication even in tricky workplaces and social situations. You may find that the people you communicate with respond better to this style.
What Is Assertive Communication?
Assertive communication involves being straightforward. The goal is effective communication and to provide a quick solution with minimal effort.
This style is focused on winning than on balance and collaboration. By being confident you can still respect the wants, needs, and rights of others that you encounter.
When you are using this style, it involves you feeling self-assured while still getting your point across. This process has a good balance of empathy and fairness while still explaining your point.
If you are pushy, or selfish with your power in the situation, you may be using aggressive communication.
Aggressiveness disregards the needs of others and can also come across as bullying.
It may not always be appropriate to use assertive communication, but it can be a valuable tool in many situations in life. Assertive communication can be a great way to deal with difficult people and work better as a team. It makes one more effective in different environments where collaboration is needed.
Others that you work with may not use assertive communication and this is ok. You can still use some of the valuable tools that assertive communication provides to complete your tasks.
Being forthright with others can have some unexpected benefits. You can do so while still being respectful.
What Are Some Examples of How I Can Use Assertive Communication?
Assertive communication techniques can be used in a variety of places and situations in your life. While you may want to start gradually at first, using assertive communication can have many benefits to your work, personal, and social life.
In the Workplace
A workplace is a great place for using assertive communication and reaping the benefits. When emailing or speaking with co-workers, try being direct while also using empathy and fairness.
Before sending emails, read them over to ensure that you are being direct with what you need from the person you are emailing. Include all relevant details in a concise manner and keep paragraphs to three sentences or less.
Use language that takes responsibility for what you are working on. “I” statements are an excellent way to be straightforward about what you need, however, avoid ordering the other person to hand over information.
Suitable examples include language such as “I’m working on project X; do you have the form required for task Y?” and “I have completed the documentation for X, and I am looking for volunteers for Project Z. Would you be interested?”
Make sure to end your communications with the proper thanks and acknowledge the contributions of others.
Timing is essential when using assertive communication, so be sure to consider the workload and stressors others may be facing.
You may also find yourself in meetings where you do not have the time to write out what you would like to say and revise it. In these situations, it is best to think about how you would like to state your needs and think about whether or not that is fair and empathetic to the other party.
Consider the needs of the individuals or groups that you are working with and ask yourself how your needs align so that you can best work together. Part of assertive communication is allowing the other party to speak, and listening at least half of the time without interrupting.
In Your Personal and Social Life
When working out plans with groups of friends, it can be frustrating to find a date and time that works for everyone. While there are many ways to handle this and other problems, using assertive language can help you navigate tricky situations.
Phrases like “Are you free on the 29th?” or “What days of the week work best for your schedule?” acknowledge and respect the time of others while being precise about the information that you need.
Another critical component when working in personal and social situations is being honest and transparent with your communication style and avoiding being overly aggressive. These are your friends and social interactions after all, and it is best to keep things positive.
Frustrations are common in social situations, but by being empathetic and fair in your communications, you can avoid conflict and respect others while still getting things done.
What Are Some Tips for Improving My Assertive Communication Style?
The best tip for improving your assertive communication style is to practice. You can get started by googling template emails or other communications to get ideas, or you can speak to someone you know that already uses assertive communication.
Borrow from Others
By looking at how others are successful at handling different situations, you should get a good idea of where you would like to start practicing. If you are planning to use assertive communication at work, start slowly and transition from email to speaking with others.
By starting out with an email, you allow yourself time to revise what you would like to say, and templates are available online that can help. If you plan to use a model, be sure to customize it so that it sounds like your natural writing.
Don’t expect everyone to respond positively right away to your change in communication style. Some individuals will be resistant to your straightforward requests no matter how you phrase them.
Aim to communicate better in general and gain a positive change with those that you regularly interact with.
Make it a goal of yours to continue to work on your assertive communication skills. Although it will be easy to make a few small changes to your communication style, more significant and more thorough changes may take more time, and may need more work on your end.
Track your progress and try new tactics or phrases when possible. Your communication style should reflect your personality but should be phrased in a clear and empathetic way.
Some people make the mistake of writing very serious emails, and this abrupt transition should be avoided.
When Should I Avoid Using Assertive Communication?
Not all cultures or workplaces are accepting of assertive communication, and they may even prefer passive communication. When you enter a workplace, do so gingerly and do not be overly forceful in your initial communications.
An excellent way to judge what kind of communication style is most accepted is to study your email inbox. For example, if assertive communication is typically reserved for one sentence of an email, make sure to use that sentence to the fullest when you communicate.
Additionally, not everyone will appreciate assertiveness, and some individuals may even find it to be aggressive.
An easy way to deal with this is to scale back your assertive communication to the minimum. You can also ask questions over email to inquire about what someone’s thoughts are.
This kind of roundabout communication can seem silly once you’ve been using assertive communication skills. On the other hand, assertive communication is about acknowledging the needs and desires of others and respecting them.
By being respectful, you can still be assertive even in a place where it is not typically welcome. You’ll need to be more mindful and empathetic about how you engage with others. Being less direct doesn’t mean you are using your assertive communication skills poorly. It means you are making adjustments to communicate better.
Can I Use Assertive Communication with Friends and Family?
You can be assertive with friends and family since they know you well and they may be the first to notice. Being assertive can help bring you closer together by being clear, empathetic, and respectful of both parties.
Consider the needs of your family members and what their concerns may be when you communicate about different items. Assertive communication also involves listening to assess their needs and responding thoughtfully.
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