GoVisits Web Directory » News Articles » Business Management Information » Assertive Communication - 6 Tips For Effective Use
 

Assertive Communication - 6 Tips For Effective Use


What IS assertive communication?

Assertive communication is the ability to express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open, honest and direct way. It recognises our rights whilst still respecting the rights of others. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people. And it allows us to constructively confront and find a mutually satisfying solution where conflict exists.

So why use assertive communication?

All of us use assertive behaviour at times... quite often when we feel vulnerable or unsure of ourselves we may resort to submissive, manipulative or aggressive behaviour.

Yet being trained in assertive communication actually increases the appropriate use of this sort of behaviour. It enables us to swap old behaviour patterns for a more positive approach to life. I've found that changing my response to others (be they work colleagues, clients or even my own family) can be exciting and stimulating.

The advantages of assertive communication

There are many advantages of assertive communication, most notably these:

  • It helps us feel good about ourselves and others

  • It leads to the development of mutual respect with others

  • It increases our self-esteem

  • It helps us achieve our goals

  • It minimises hurting and alienating other people

  • It reduces anxiety

  • It protects us from being taken advantage of by others

  • It enables us to make decisions and free choices in life

  • It enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative

There are, of course, disadvantages...

Disadvantages of assertive communication

Others may not approve of this style of communication, or may not approve of the views you express. Also, having a healthy regard for another person's rights means that you won't always get what YOU want. You may also find out that you were wrong about a viewpoint that you held. But most importantly, as mentioned earlier, it involves the risk that others may not understand and therefore not accept this style of communication.

What assertive communication is not...

Assertive communication is definately NOT a lifestyle! It's NOT a guarantee that you will get what you want. It's definately NOT an acceptable style of communication with everyone, but at least it's NOT being aggressive.

But it IS about choice

Four behavioural choices

There are, as I see it, four choices you can make about which style of communication you can employ. These types are:

direct aggression: bossy, arrogant, bulldozing, intolerant, opinionated, and overbearing

indirect aggression: sarcastic, deceiving, ambiguous, insinuating, manipulative, and guilt-inducing

submissive: wailing, moaning, helpless, passive, indecisive, and apologetic

assertive: direct, honest, accepting, responsible, and spontaneous


Characteristics of assertive communication

There are six main characteristics of assertive communication. These are:

  • eye contact: demonstrates interest, shows sincerity

  • body posture: congruent body language will improve the significance of the message

  • gestures: appropriate gestures help to add emphasis

  • voice: a level, well modulated tone is more convincing and acceptable, and is not intimidating

  • timing: use your judgement to maximise receptivity and impact

  • content: how, where and when you choose to comment is probably more important than WHAT you say

The importance of "I" statements

Part of being assertive involves the ability to appropriately express your needs and feelings. You can accomplish this by using "I" statements. These indicate ownership, do not attribute blame, focuses on behaviour, identifies the effect of behaviour, is direcdt and honest, and contributes to the growth of your relationship with each other.

Strong "I" statements have three specific elements:

  • Behaviour

  • Feeling

  • Tangible effect (consequence to you)

Example: "I feel frustrated when you are late for meetings. I don't like having to repeat information."

Six techniques for assertive communication

There are six assertive techniques - let's look at each of them in turn.

1. Behaviour Rehearsal: which is literally practising how you want to look and sound. It is a very useful technique when you first want to use "I" statements, as it helps dissipate any emotion associated with an experience and allows you to accurately identify the behaviour you wish to confront.

2. Repeated Assertion (the 'broken record'): this technique allows you to feel comfortable by ignoring manipulative verbal side traps, argumentative baiting and irrelevant logic while sticking to your point. To most effectively use this technique use calm repetition, and say what you want and stay focused on the issue. You'll find that there is no need to rehearse this technique, and no need to 'hype yourself up' to deal with others.

Example:

"I would like to show you some of our products"
"No thank you, I'm not interested"
"I really have a great range to offer you"
"That may be true, but I'm not interested at the moment"
"Is there someone else here who would be interested?"
"I don't want any of these products"
"Okay, would you take this brochure and think about it?"
"Yes, I will take a brochure"
"Thank you"
"You're welcome"

3. Fogging: this technique allows you to receive criticism comfortably, without getting anxious or defensive, and without rewarding manipulative criticism. To do this you need to acknowledge the criticism, agree that there may be some truth to what they say, but remain the judge of your choice of action. An example of this could be, "I agree that there are probably times when I don't give you answers to your questions.

4. Negative enquiry: this technique seeks out criticism about yourself in close relationships by prompting the expression of honest, negative feelings to improve communication. To use if effectively you need to listen for critical comments, clarify your understanding of those criticisms, use the information if it will be helpful or ignore the information if it is manipulative. An example of this technique would be, "So you think/believe that I am not interested?"

5. Negative assertion: this technique lets you look more comfortably at negatives in your own behaviour or personality without feeling defensive or anxious, this also reduces your critics' hostility. You should accept your errors or faults, but not apologise. Instead, tentatively and sympathetically agree with hostile criticism of your negative qualities. An example would be, "Yes, you're right. I don't always listen closely to what you have to say."

6. Workable compromise: when you feel that your self-respect is not in question, consider a workable compromise with the other person. You can always bargain for your material goals unless the compromise affects your personal feelings of self-respect. However, if the end goal involves a matter of your self-worth and self-respect, THERE CAN BE NO COMPROMISE. An example of this technique would be, "I understand that you have a need to talk and I need to finish what I'm doing. So what about meeting in half an hour?"

Conclusion

Assertiveness is a useful communication tool. It's application is contextual and it's not appropriate to be assertive in all situations. Remember, your sudden use of assertiveness may be perceived as an act of aggression by others.

There's also no guarantee of success, even when you use assertive communication styles appropriately.

"Nothing on earth can stop the individual with the right mental attitude from achieving their goal; nothing on earth can help the individual with the wrong mental attitude" W.W. Ziege

 

Business Management articles

  1. Eliminate Performance Anxiety Forever

    You've had many years of training in your craft as a performer, singer, actor etc. but if you still feel haunted by the ravages of Performance Anxiety your career may be in serious jeopardy.Performance Anxiety, that familiar nemesis to all per... more to this article

    Article category: Business Management Information

  2. Turbo Charge Your Career With The Most Powerful Leadership Tool Of All: The Leadership Talk: Part 1

    Leaders speak 15 to 20 times daily. You speak at meetings, you speak across their desks, you speak on the phone, you speak in e-mails, you speak at lunch, beside the water cooler, and on elevators, etc.It's in the interaction of those speaking... more to this article

    Article category: Business Management Information

  3. Having Your Phil

    February 2nd, at approximately 7:30 a.m. local time on Gobbler's Knob in a small town in western Pennsylvania, 20,000 people and a national radio and television audience anxiously await the prognostication of America's favorite furry forecaster. In a... more to this article

    Article category: Business Management Information

  4. Downsizing in Organisations - The Real Truth

    I've met and worked with many people in all sectors of the business world and found that the majority of managers and team leaders are spending too much of their time on basic administrative tasks. Tasks for which they have had no training in. In man... more to this article

    Article category: Business Management Information

  5. Change Management: Getting Everyone on Board the Change Train

    How do you get everyone on board the change train that is gaining speed and heading out of the station? How do you get your people to, not only go through the motions, but also actually "buy into" the changes that are necessary? People's re... more to this article

    Article category: Business Management Information

Assertive Communication 6 Tips For Effective Use information

Article categories

Take Your Firm to the Next Level

So you did such a good job in 2003 at bringing in new client...

Business Management Information

Why Half of All Mergers Fail After the Honeymoon Ends

Marriages and corporate mergers in America have at least one...

Business Management Information

Todays Employees and Their New Needs: What You Need to Know

Today's employees are not only interested in security or in ...

Business Management Information

People Skills: Eight Essential People Skills

Being able to communicate effectively with others requires p...

Business Management Information

The Boss Didn?t Understand Why His Staff Wasn?t Reading His Mind

Many people believe that everyone sees the world exactly the...

Business Management Information

Data Delivers Credibility

Over the past couple of days I've been setting up visitor co...

Business Management Information

Managing Change in the Workplace

Change is exhilarating. Change is terrifying. Change is badl...

Business Management Information

Preparing For ISO 9001 2000 Registration

The steps need to be taken to prepare an organization for IS...

Business Management Information

Weaknesses of Wishing

When you're starting a business, you might wish for a lot of...

Business Management Information

Effective Email Communication

Email, when used properly, can generate additional direct sa...

Business Management Information

Keeping Meetings On Track

We all have been in meetings with certain people who get our...

Business Management Information

Help Your Employees Prepare for a Performance Appraisal

PREPARING EMPLOYEES FOR THE PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL INTERVIEWS...

Business Management Information

Innovation Management ? forced into it!

Creativity can be defined as problem identification and idea...

Business Management Information