It’s not easy to be assertive. I struggled with assertive communication a lot in the past, as pleasing everyone around me seemed just right but felt bad. Does it sound familiar to you? Have you ever attended events and participated in activities, that you considered a total waste of time? Or have you ever had trouble communicating your needs and point of view, as you thought that your different opinion on a certain topic might not be the one people around you wanted to hear? Me too!
But with the time I’ve learnt how to be assertive and stopped confusing assertive communication (as many people do) with being aggressive, bamboozling others into submission and getting what you want, despite what they want. I understood that assertive communication is not about domineering. It’s just a means of saying what you mean, meaning what you say and allowing others to do the same.
I used assertive communication in these couple of recent examples:
Holidays in Turkey. My friend and I received a room with a dirty toilet and bathroom. Instead of sitting angry in the room and feel disgusted about the circumstances, I go downstairs to the owner and ask him kindly to clean the room. He did it immediately!
An older colleague with much more experience and higher status in the company tried to delegate to me some of her work. I set a clear line and said I would love to help but this is not in my scope and if she had any doubts she can consult it with my boss. She did the job herself!
My hair colour of my roots came out warmer than I wanted. Instead of going home unhappy and writing a poor review online, I expressed my opinion, explained that this is not the outcome I wanted and received a new free of charge appointment to make my hair colour ash-blonde again. My hair look fantastic again and it was not a problem at all! I will come back!
But sometimes I still fail… and here is my recent example of not being assertive at all. The picture says more than thousand words… just look at my face and body language:
Let’s concentrate on what we can do to improve our assertive communication. Introducing assertive communication to your behavior will mark the beginning of a new way of life, where you make your own decisions and choices without feeling guilty, and where you are in control, not those around you. The power of assertiveness is about commanding the respect of others, achieving your personal and professional goals and raising your self-esteem. Here are 5 easy steps to awaken your power of assertive communication:
1. Use ‘I’ perspective
Express your feelings or thoughts in an ‘I’ statement. ‘I’ indicates that you are taking responsibility for the message that is being conveyed. For example, ‘I am not happy with this outcome, I would like to discuss it.’
2. Be specific about your needs
Specify clearly the actions which you want from the other person or what you want to happen. Communicate your needs in a simple, understandable language.
3. ‘No’ is OK
Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. It’s normal that you might have other needs than other people. Saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean you don’t value them or that you are a bad person.
4. Act with respect
Assertiveness is when both parties feel well about themselves. Respect your conversation partner, make sure you don’t offend him or her and that your assertiveness is not crossing into being aggressive, rude, or intimidating. Know your rights and respect those of others. Remember, assertive behaviour does not necessarily mean that you get your way all the time. It does mean that the chances of getting to the best solution, with everyone’s self-esteem intact, are significantly enhanced.
5. Watch your body language
Your posture, body language, eye contact, tone and speed of voice have an influence and will determine if your conversation partner will consider you assertive, emotional or maybe aggressive. Think about non-verbal aspects before you act. In my post ‘Master Your Communication Skills – 3 easy steps’ you can find some tips on using your voice effectively.
More on power of assertive communication:
If you are interested in this topic here are couple of sources you can use to improve your skills and develop the power of assertive communication in you: