Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you want to share your opinion, but feel hesitant to speak up? Perhaps you worry about sounding too aggressive or being labeled as difficult. But here's the thing: assertive communication is not about being rude or overbearing. It's about expressing yourself clearly and confidently, while respecting the opinions of others. In this post, we'll explore what it means to speak assertively, why it's important, and offer tips on how to do it effectively.
Understand the Difference Between Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication:
Before we dive into how to speak assertively, it's vital to understand the differences between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication. Passive communication involves avoiding conflict and shying away from expressing your opinion. Aggressive communication, on the other hand, tends to involve bullying or dominating others. Neither of these styles is healthy or productive. Assertive communication, on the other hand, involves expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs in a respectful manner that values both yourself and others.
“I'm not going. You always change plans last second! You should really try to schedule better before asking me to go out.”
“Sure, I guess I'll go. What time?”
“I would love to go but I have some work that needs to get done. I hope you find someone else to take, it sounds like fun!”
1. Use "I" Statements
One way to convey assertiveness is by using "I" statements when communicating. For example, instead of saying "You never listen to me," you could say, "I feel unheard when you interrupt me." By using "I" statements, you take ownership of your feelings and avoid blaming others. This approach can help others understand your perspective without feeling attacked or defensive.
2. Watch Your Body Language
Your body language can speak volumes, even when you're not talking. To speak assertively, use confident and open body language. Avoid crossing your arms, slouching, or avoiding eye contact. Standing up straight, making eye contact, and using hand gestures are all ways to project confidence and assertiveness.
3. Practice Active Listening
Assertive communication involves not only expressing your own ideas, but also actively listening to others. This means giving your full attention to the speaker, asking clarifying questions, and reflecting back on what you heard. By actively listening and engaging in a conversation, you show respect for others and open doors for deeper understanding and connection.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Finally, assertive communication is a skill that takes practice to master. Start by practicing in low-stakes situations, such as with a close friend or family member. Pay attention to how you speak and how others respond to you. As you become more comfortable with assertive communication, you can bring these skills into other areas of your life, such as the workplace or social situations.
In conclusion, speaking assertively is not about being aggressive or rude. It's about expressing yourself confidently and respectfully, while also listening to others. By understanding what assertive communication means, using "I" statements, watching your body language, practicing active listening, and practicing in low-stakes situations, you can develop your own assertive communication style. With practice, you'll realize that assertive communication can help you build deeper connections with others, express yourself clearly, and achieve greater success in your personal and professional life.