Assertive communication is an communication style that is built on mutual respect. Communicating assertively means that you speak up for yourself, while respecting the right of others to do the same. Being assertive demonstrates self-respect because you are willing to stand up for your rights and interests, and express your thoughts and feelings. It also demonstrates that you are sensitive to the rights of others and willing to work constructively to reach a mutually agreeable outcome.
Assertiveness is sometimes confused with agression. Assertive behavior promotes mutual respect and results in trust, acceptance and cooperation. Aggressive behavior promotes self interest at the expense of others and results in hostility, mistrust, disrespect and obstructiveness.
Being assertive enables you to:
• Act in your own best interests—including refusing a request
• Stand up for yourself by clearly expressing your rights, interests, thoughts, feelings and personal boundaries
• Demonstrate self-respect by exercising your rights and expecting respect from others
• Demonstrate respect for others by considering their needs and rights—including the right to refuse a request
• Develop and expect trust and equality in relationships
• Negotiate to a mutually acceptable compromise
Assertive communication includes both verbal and non-verbal communications. The following tips can help you communicate assertively.
• Use confident, positive body language. Make eye contact, smile, maintain an upright, relaxed, open posture and use smooth movements.
• Verbalize a clear, confident message. Use “I” statements, be specific, be objective, be positive, be calm, be consistent
• Learn to say no. Use the word “no” and offer an explanation if you choose to. Do not apologize and do not make up excuses.
• Use a firm, pleasant, clear and audible tone of voice.
• State the issue and the outcome you would like to achieve.
• Stay focused, don’t digress—or allow the other person to deflect you by digressing—into other issues, blame or judgment.
• Validate the other person’s feelings and issues.
• Summarize or restate the other person’s point of view.
Assertive communication is a learned skill. The more you practice it, the easier it will become and the better you will be at it.
The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Communication Skills for Healthy Relationships.” For more information, please visit http://www.noaa.gov