You hear it all the time. I tell people to do it… “Just tell him/her”, “Find your voice”, “Speak up!” But it’s not always so easy to share your thoughts and feelings without becoming aggressive, to emotional, or backing down.
I’m describing Assertiveness and Assertive Communication. When you’re under stress, in a difficult situation, or talking to an important person in your life, being assertive is often way more difficult that you think. Assertiveness can be defined as the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. And assertive communication is: Assertive communication involves respect for the boundaries of oneself and others. It also presumes an interest in the fulfillment of needs and wants through cooperation.
In my experience, being assertive is the most effective way to communicate. You can share your thoughts and feelings with kindness, clarity, and truth, while being open to hearing others. Communication flows and is satisfying. If you struggle to find your voice, I can help.
1. First, give yourself time. If you are not prepared to discuss a topic, or are caught unawares, give yourself the time you need to gather your thoughts. Options could be:
a. holding up your index finger asking for more time
b. taking a deep breath, saying you need some time to think
c. excuse yourself to use the restroom and while in there gather your thoughts.
2. Listen to what the speaker is saying, not just to respond, but to hear him/her and consider what they are saying. Once you know your thoughts, take a deep breath and share, with clarity and firmness.
3. Be concise (less than 25 words if possible) and clear. You’re not yelling, not cursing, not blaming or making assumptions.
4. If you start to get upset or confused, again, give yourself time to gather your thoughts.
Being assertive takes practice. Luckily, we communicate all day and have lots of opportunities to practice. Also, most of us find it’s easier to be assertive with some and harder with others; that’s OK, practice, practice.
Take a deep breath and find your voice!
Marie Schiller, MC