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Get More of What You Want, Transform Your Communication Skills

Assertiveness can help you control stress and anger and improve coping skills. Recognize and learn about assertive behavior and communication.

Last week we discussed four communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. What did we learn? Passive, Aggressive, and Passive-Aggressive communication styles do work in the long-term. However, we have a healthy alternative, assertive communication. Assertive communication is the most productive and effective communication style. This blog will dive deeper into why assertive communication makes sense, some benefits to assertive communication, and critical areas for improvement.

Why does assertive communication make sense?

Assertive communication is based on mutual respect. Being assertive shows that you respect and honor yourself because you are willing to stand up for your preferences and express your thoughts and feelings. Additionally, assertiveness demonstrates your awareness of others' rights and your willingness to resolve conflict positively.

Assertive communication is direct and respectful. Being assertive gives you the best chance of successfully delivering your message. If you communicate in a way that is too passive or too aggressive, your notice may get lost because people are too busy reacting to your delivery.

Benefits of Assertive Communication

Being assertive is a core communication skill. Assertiveness can help you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view while also respecting others' rights and beliefs. Being assertive can also help boost your self-esteem and earn others' respect. Assertiveness can help with stress management, especially if you tend to take on too many responsibilities because you have difficulty saying no. Some people are naturally assertive. But if you are not one of them, you can learn to be more proactive.

Four Key Areas for Improvement to Become Assertive

Communication styles are formed based on our life experiences. People develop different styles of communication-based on their life experiences. Your style may be so ingrained that you are not even aware of what it is. People tend to stick to the same communication style over time. But if you want to change your communication style, you can learn to communicate in healthier and more effective ways. Becoming assertive is not just about what you say, the message, but how you say it is also essential. In the first blog of this series, we identified some critical areas for improving our communication.

  1. Learn to Listen to Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

  2. Emotional Awareness

  3. Questioning Skills

What is Listening?

Listening is not the same as hearing. Often, we forget that communication is a two-way process; we tend to do a great job sending messages but fail to listen to what the other person is saying. Instead, we are thinking about what we plan to say next.

Listening means you are paying attention to the words spoken and how they are being spoken, and any non-verbal messages sent with the spoken words—in other words, listening to what is said and what is NOT being said. Listening means giving your full attention to the person speaking and genuinely concentrating on what they are saying and what they are not saying. This is called active listening.

In addition to active listening, a good listener also uses clarification and reflection techniques to confirm what the other person has said to avoid confusion. These techniques demonstrate that you are listening, present, and attentive to the other person. Improving our listening skills will show improvements in your personal and professional relationships.

Understanding Non-Verbal Communication

A blog that I wrote a few weeks ago mentioned that non-verbal communication makes up a large percentage of communication, 80%. As a result, one can see the importance of understanding non-verbal communication, especially when non-verbal communication is absent, such as when communicating via writing or telephone.

It is also important to note that non-verbal communication is more than just body language. Non-verbal communication also includes tone and pitch of voice, body movement, eye contact, posture, proximity, facial expression, and sweating physiological changes.

When we take a moment to pay attention to non-verbal communication, it provides an increased understanding of the other person. Additionally, you can ensure that your message is communicated accurately by communicating words consistent with your body language.

What is Emotional Awareness?

Emotional awareness allows you to be aware of your own and others' emotions and gives you the ability to manage your emotions. Awareness of emotions, both positive and negative, will improve communication. However, without awareness and management, emotions can interfere with the logical and practical flow of communication. The process of awareness, understanding, and managing emotions is known as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is just as crucial to success in life as intellectual intelligence.

Emotional intelligence covers a wide range of skills, divided into two main categories. The first category is personal skills, which include self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. Personal skills deal with decision-making, inspiration, etc. The second category focuses on social skills, which help us understand how to interact with others. The skills included in this category are empathy and interpersonal skills.

In essence, awareness, understanding, and managing your emotions is essential to understand others and work well with others.

Questioning Skills

Questioning in communication is critical to ensure that you have a full understanding of a person's message. Questioning is also how we obtain more information about a topic, clarify, start a conversation, and keep the conversation going. Communicators with good questioning skills also have good listening skills; they tend to draw more information out of a person versus focusing on broadcasting their own message. This indicates a person who is fully engaged, attentive, and present with the other person.

Benefits of Being Assertive

Being assertive is a healthier communication style. Assertiveness helps you keep people from taking advantage of you, and it allows you to effectively express your thoughts, feelings, needs, desires, and preferences.

Behaving assertively can help you:

· Gain self-confidence and self-esteem

· Understand and recognize your feelings

· Earn respect from others

· Improve communication

· Create win-win situations

· Improve your decision-making skills

· Create honest relationships

· Gain more job satisfaction

Learn to be more Assertive

We develop different styles of communication-based on our life experiences. Sometimes communication styles are so ingrained that we are not even aware of how unhealthy we are communicating. But you can learn a new style of communication that is healthier and more effective.

Here are some tips to help you start your journey to become more assertive:

  • Assess your style-Understand your style before you make changes: do you voice your opinion or stay silent, are you quick to judge or blame others, do you say yes although your plate is full?

  • Use 'I' Statements-Let others know what you are thinking or feeling without sounding accusatory.

  • Practice Saying' NO’-No is a complete sentence, do not hesitate, be direct, and be brief if an explanation is appropriate.

  • Rehearse What You Want to Say-Practice some scenarios.

  • Practice Active Listening-Listen attentively without your next thought running

  • Use body language-Use words and body language that speaks with confidence

  • Keep Emotions in Check-Conflict resolution is hard for most people, especially when emotions get in the way. Learn to remain calm-practice breathwork

If you need help being assertive, remember, learning to be assertive takes time and practice. If you have spent years silencing yourself, becoming more assertive will not happen overnight. Likewise, if anger leads you to be too aggressive, you may need to learn some anger management techniques.

If you are not making progress toward becoming more assertive despite your best efforts, consider formal training, and sign up for a communication course. And if specific issues such as anger, stress, anxiety, or fear are getting in your way, consider talking with a mental health professional. The payoff will be worth it. By becoming more assertive, you can begin to express your true feelings and needs more efficiently. You may even find that you get more of what you want as a result.

As Always,

Stay Well, Be Empowered, Live Boldly and Fully!!

Dr. Terra!!

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