What IS assertive communication? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Assertive communication is ability to express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open, honest and direct way. It recognises our rights whilst still respecting rights of others. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people. And it allows us to constructively confront and find a mutually satisfying solution where conflict exists.
So why use assertive communication? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ All of us use assertive behaviour at times... quite often when we feel vulnerable or unsure of ourselves we may resort to submissive, manipulative or aggressive behaviour.
Yet being trained in assertive communication actually increases appropriate use of this sort of behaviour. It enables us to swap old behaviour patterns for a more positive approach to life. I've found that changing my response to others (be they work colleagues, clients or even my own family) can be exciting and stimulating.
The advantages of assertive communication ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are many advantages of assertive communication, most notably these:
* It helps us feel good about ourselves and others * It leads to development of mutual respect with others * It increases our self-esteem * It helps us achieve our goals * It minimises hurting and alienating other people * It reduces anxiety * It protects us from being taken advantage of by others * It enables us to make decisions and free choices in life * It enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative
There are, of course, disadvantages...
Disadvantages of assertive communication ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Others may not approve of this style of communication, or may not approve of views you express. Also, having a healthy regard for another person's rights means that you won't always get what YOU want. You may also find out that you were wrong about a viewpoint that you held. But most importantly, as mentioned earlier, it involves risk that others may not understand and therefore not accept this style of communication.
What assertive communication is not... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Assertive communication is definately NOT a lifestyle! It's NOT a guarantee that you will get what you want. It's definately NOT an acceptable style of communication with everyone, but at least it's NOT being aggressive.
But it IS about choice
Four behavioural choices ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are, as I see it, four choices you can make about which style of communication you can employ. These types are:
direct aggression: bossy, arrogant, bulldozing, intolerant, opinionated, and overbearing
indirect aggression: sarcastic, deceiving, ambiguous, insinuating, manipulative, and guilt-inducing
submissive: wailing, moaning, helpless, passive, indecisive, and apologetic
assertive: direct, honest, accepting, responsible, and spontaneous
Characteristics of assertive communication ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are six main characteristics of assertive communication. These are:
1. eye contact: demonstrates interest, shows sincerity
2. body posture: congruent body language will improve significance of message
3. gestures: appropriate gestures help to add emphasis
4. voice: a level, well modulated tone is more convincing and acceptable, and is not intimidating
5. timing: use your judgement to maximise receptivity and impact
6. content: how, where and when you choose to comment is probably more important than WHAT you say
The importance of "I" statements ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Part of being assertive involves ability to appropriately express your needs and feelings. You can accomplish this by using "I" statements. These indicate ownership, do not attribute blame, focuses on behaviour, identifies effect of behaviour, is direcdt and honest, and contributes to growth of your relationship with each other.