Assertiveness Training Requires Effective Communication
 
 

Assertiveness Training Requires Effective Communication

Introduction

Regardless of your personality type or weaknesses, everyone can learn how to communicate better.

Communication is very important to assertiveness. Speaking, writing, and using nonverbal cues are all methods of communicating assertiveness. This article will cover tips on communicating well, knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet and tips on influencing others to see your perspective. By using these communication tools, you will be better able to convey your wants and needs to others clearly and effectively.

Why Clear Communication Is So Important To Assertiveness

We interact with others in many ways. Whether we speak in a level tone, talk quickly, mumble, yell, or whisper, we are communicating. When we write an emotional letter, create factual correspondence, send an e-mail, make an entry on a blog, Tweet our current activities, and/or post our status on Facebook, we are communicating. A firm handshake, warm hug, cheerful wave, gentle caress, bright smile, or painful grimace is also a form of communication.

We are given all these options for reaching out to others because social interaction is vital to our emotional, occupational, and mental well-being. If you do not communicate well in all areas of your life, do not worry; you are not alone. Some people who can get their points across just fine in personal situations have trouble doing the same thing at work, and vice versa. Others find they can speak clearly but have trouble conveying their thoughts via the written word, and vice versa. In all instances, being assertive is merely another form of communication. It is expressing your wants, needs, or dislikes to another person.

How to Communicate Effectively and Clearly

Like any other communication, it is very important to be clear when you are communicating assertively so that other people fully understand exactly what you are trying to tell them. If you yell at your child(ren), "I'm sick and tired of you always leaving your clothes on the floor," you are certainly being clear, but are you communicating effectively? Probably not. Likewise, if you distractedly murmur, for the third, fifth or 10th time, "Kids, pick your clothes up off the floor," you are not communicating effectively, either. Below are tips for communicating clearly. Try them out in your life and work situations and see which work for you and which do not. Stick with those that help; discard the rest.

Here are some tips for speaking clearly:

  • ð Think about what you want to say before you say it.
  • ð Adjust your language and vocabulary for your audience.
  • ð Look the person or people in the eye, but do not lock them into a stare-off.
  • ð Minimize distractions.
  • ð Speak in a level tone, not too high- or low-pitched.
  • ð Avoid yelling, whispering, or mumbling.
  • ð Try to be calm before stating your assertion.
  • ð Be direct; do not beat around the bush for 10 minutes before getting to your point.
  • ð Be honest; do not lie or manipulate.
  • ð Use the word "I" as much as possible; i.e., "I would like to. . ."
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  • ð Use positive phrases and terms, such as, "I would appreciate it if you. . ."
  • ð Avoid blaming or insulting.
  • ð If it helps, write down what you want to say before you say it.
  • ð Do not overload people by asking for everything all at once.
  • ð Pick one or two topics at a time and stick with them.
  • ð Try to refer to examples.
  • ð Say thank you or show verbal appreciation when your requests are met.

Here are some tips for writing clearly:

  • þ Know what you want to write before you write it.
  • þ Do not allow the false anonymity of written communication to result in an overly harsh, rude, or emotional message.
  • þ Check your spelling and grammar.
  • þ Whenever possible, put the writing aside for a short time and reread it before sending.
  • þ Do your research; do not write inaccurate information.
  • þ Be clear and get to the point.
  • þ Stay on topic.
  • þ Be honest; do not lie or manipulate.
  • þ Use positive language and terminology.
  • þ Take out unnecessary words and phrases.
  • þ Do not be too curt; your recipient will not hear vocal cues to take the edge off your words.
  • þ Have a friend or colleague read what you have written over before sending.

When to Speak Up and When to Be Quiet

If you are very intuitive, these tips may seem obvious to you; but if you are more prone to be unaware of people's moods, then you will need some guidance in this area.

There are times when you should speak up and times when you should stay quiet and wait for another time to assert yourself. Shy or passive people always will feel that no time is the right time to be assertive, so do not use this section as an excuse to never speak up. Those who are more aggressive may think every time is the right time to be assertive, and this also is not recommended.

Use your senses to tell you if someone is receptive or obviously not open to requests or assertions. For instance, someone who is very busy with an important deadline and under a great deal of stress may not be open to your assertiveness. Likewise, anyone dealing with a tragedy, calamity, disaster, hardship, or very high-stress situation will not be very receptive or appreciative of your asserting yourself in regard to things unrelated to those events. That said, if the stress someone else is experiencing, such as your sister getting married and demanding that you spend $500 dollars on a bridesmaid dress you cannot afford unless you skip paying your rent, then it is appropriate for you to assert that you cannot afford to do so, whether it is bad timing for her or not. Also, the assertion is related to the situation, so it is reasonable to make it.

Depending on her personality, she may not be receptive to your assertion; but if you use your tips for verbal communication, taking any edge out of your voice and clearly explaining your situation, she will have to understand and find a less expensive dress, help you pay for the one she wants you to wear, or opt to leave you out of the wedding. When all else fails, and you are not sure about the timing, use this rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you would not want someone asserting unrelated wants and needs to you during a similar crisis or situation, then you should wait until a more appropriate time.

Influencing Others

The best way to influence others to your point of view is to be honest and direct with them. People respond to truth. Lying, manipulating, and making false promises will cause you serious problems later on with that individual and may even cause the person to distrust you. This is also a form of passive/aggressive behavior. To accompany honest direct communications, it also is essential to do your research or formulate a solid point of view. In some situations, using examples helps; in others, negotiating by offering something in return for what you are asking is a good idea, as long as you follow through and make good on that offer.

Use your personality type to your advantage. If you are funny, use humor to get your point across. If you are conscientious, use facts and your gifts of logic. Try to think of yourself as an honest lawyer. You, the attorney, are trying to make the "jury" rule in favor of the "case" you are presenting. Lawyers use facts, supportable research, and counter-argument to win over a jury.

For instance, Mary, our "You Decide" example who wanted to try a different restaurant, could research local eateries that have something for both her and her boyfriend: television for football, other entertainment, food she likes, good prices, etc. When her boyfriend gives a litany of reasons why he does not want to go somewhere else, she can counter with the reasons why he should. If he refuses again to compromise by eating somewhere she wants to, she might want to reconsider that relationship. When people consistently and habitually deny your assertions, they may be too selfish or immature to be in a give-and-take relationship. They may also be the bottomless pit types we discussed or they may be passive/aggressive. In all of those cases, it becomes futile to assert yourself or try to influence people with these issues. It is better to seek out those who are able to be in a mutually satisfying relationship.


Conclusion

Communicating well is vital to assertiveness. Practice using the vocal and written tips for effective communication you learned in this article from this day forward. Use your personality type and strengths to communicate in your own unique way. Be honest, do your research, and pretend you are an honest lawyer to present a nearly irresistible case. The book referenced in the "Other Resources" section below has been read by more than 50 million people and stands as a classic in the influencing people department. If you have a chance to read it, do so; it contains valuable tips that anyone can benefit from.

 
 
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