Learning to communicate effectively can improve almost every aspect of our life. It helps us land a better job, improve relationships, thrive in a professional or social setting, and be more understood.

There are different styles of communication and “Assertive Communication” has been proven to be one of the best methods to achieve effective two-way communication.

This guide will examine several techniques that will help us become better message-senders and receivers.

What is Assertive Communication?

Assertiveness means we clearly state our needs, know how to claim them while considering other people’s boundaries. This means finding a compromise. The results of an assertive style of communication are productivity, fairness, and feelings of confidence for both parties.

This is not to say that we should be assertive all the time. This is in the context of changing unhealthy habits of communication, such as being passive-aggressive or overly assertive. Think back to events wherein we felt we could have been more assertive. Those are the moments we can work on and develop.

How to be an assertive communicator

  1. Exhibit a firm but respectful tone with a relaxed appearance. Appropriate eye contact and gestures can help get our message across. Body language and language style plays an important role. Practising in front of a mirror or acting out the scenario with someone else are helpful ways to get used to this style.
  2. Use “I” statements such as “I feel ( emotion word)  when you (explanation).” 

Conflicts can end up being a blame game when words aren’t carefully chosen. Using “I” statements will reduce the likelihood of making the other person feel at fault during a sensitive conversation. This type of statement also encourages accountability for what we’re feeling. Taking ownership of our emotions leads us to clearer, more truthful statements, thereby, reducing misunderstandings. 

Check out this “I” Statement worksheet for practice and examples.

  1. Use the “Reflections Technique”. This technique involves repeating what someone has said to in our own words and, in turn, makes the other person feel heard and understood. Reflections encourage more openness because the other person trusts that we acknowledge their feelings.

This communication technique is about confirming that our interpretation of what the other person is saying is correct.

For example:

Speaker: You’re always on your phone when we’re at the dinner table, and it frustrates me sometimes.

Lister’s Interpretation: You feel that we’re not spending quality time and that you’re feeling neglected.

This reflection shows that the listener is not merely repeating the words. They have also picked up the speaker’s emotion and reflected back in their interpretation. 

Our reflection can be incorrect, and that is part of the process. Therefore, when using the technique, it is encouraged to use a tone that’s in between a question and a statement. The main objective is to get a confirmation from the other person.

Try out this Reflections practice sheet

Other Communication Techniques

  • Ask open-ended questions such as “Why do you think you feel that way?” This method decreases misinterpretations and opens up the conversation for more sharing.
  • Focus on the speaker. Facing them, nodding and eye-contact establish rapport and sends a positive signal to the speaker.
  • Be culturally sensitive. Culture plays a significant role in how we interact with others. Assuming that others understand what we’ve said in the same context may cause a glitch in the communication process. Asking questions is the key to learning.

We are not merely using a set of vocabulary when we communicate. Our experiences, emotions, culture, and beliefs are moulded into our language and interpretations. Let’s continue to pursue a greater understanding of ourselves and others to communicate more effectively.   

 

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