6 assertive techniques to improve your communication
We interact with people all the time to exchange information, and we want our communication to be efficient and well received. Where there are longstanding relationships, we want them to be preserved. But what if we must tell someone something they don’t want to hear and we’re dreading it?
The truth is that these difficult messages need to be delivered, or there could be a serious impact on the productivity of your team. So, try adopting an assertive approach (our assertiveness course can teach you how). Not the aggressive bully, or the passive doormat, but the best of both worlds. With assertiveness communication becomes easy and much more enjoyable.
Walk the assertive path
So, what is assertiveness? Peter Honey once said that it’s all about rights. In any situation, I have rights – but so do you. When we are assertive, we stand up for our rights (and the company’s), whilst respecting the rights of the other person.
Aggressive people stand up for their rights, but in a way that crushes other’s rights, causing upset and offence. Careful – if you try too hard to be assertive, you can be perceived as aggressive!
Passive people put the rights of others before their own. They get taken advantage of, become stressed and often explode and then become aggressive! It’s always the quiet ones…
Six assertive techniques to try
Basic assertion: simply make a statement of your needs, wants or beliefs. Top tip: use ‘I’ statements. ‘I’d like to talk to you about the current project’. You’re putting your thoughts out there, but not demanding, or waiting for someone to read your mind. You say what needs to be said.
Empathetic assertion: here we combine empathy with basic assertion, e.g. ‘I can tell you’re frustrated, but let’s talk this through’.
Self-Disclosure assertion: use this technique to let someone know the effect their behaviour is having on you: ‘I find it frustrating when you interrupt me, I’d appreciate it if you let me explain’.
Discrepancy assertion: making someone aware that what they said they would do, and what they are actually doing, are not the same thing. For example, ‘you told me the report would be ready by 4pm, but now you’re saying it will be 10am tomorrow. I’d like to know the reason for the delay’.
Consequence assertion: making someone aware of the consequences of a continued behaviour. For example, ‘I want to help, but if you continue to shout and swear I will have to end this call’.
Refusing assertively: assertiveness means not refusing, but negotiating. Offer options and alternatives. Nobody said no, we just agreed on a different yes! A yes that is mutually acceptable.
So, what have we learnt? Assertiveness is a great way to communicate with others. You achieve your goals, while building and strengthening relationships and overall improving the efficiency of your communications. With assertiveness communication becomes much easier. You are approachable; people are happy to work with you and for you. And you don’t walk around with a head full of ‘what if’ questions, because you say what needs to be said. All I’m saying is, give yourself that chance!