EnQuire now
Being Assertive

Posted by admin 10:11 am, 27 May 2015

Assertiveness is a core skill that allows people to communicate effectively with loved ones, friends and work colleagues, and allows people to have successful and rewarding relationships with others. It is essential in helping people communicate in an emotionally intelligent way that takes the needs of the self and the other into account. Many people struggle to stand up for themselves and have a passive communication style, while others get aggressive easily and therefore upset others and damage relationships. Passive aggression usually results in no one getting their needs met, and can be toxic at work and home. Below I have summarised the four main communication styles and added some helpful assertiveness techniques to help you be a more assertive person.

Aggressive communication: I’m okay, you’re not

  • Sarcastic, harsh, always right, superior, know it all, interrupts, talks over others, critical, put-downs, patronising, disrespectful of others
  • “This is what we’re doing, if you don’t like it, tough”
  • Believe they are entitled to have things done their way, the way they want it to be done, because they are right, and others (and their needs) are less important
  • Body language: Eye contact is emotion-less, staring, expressionless. Body is upright, head high, shoulders out, hands on hips, feet apart. Pointing fingers, making fists, clenched, hands on hips
  • Make enemies, upset others and self, feel angry and resentful
  • A lot of YOU statements

Passive aggression: We’re both not ok

  • Body language and no verbal cues are often not consistent with verbal message
  • “Yeah ok that’s fine” (but aggressive body language or tone)
  • Uses stonewalling, leaving people out, not doing work that they said they’d do and avoiding others as aggressive behaviours
  • Body language: Rolls eyes, gives others ‘looks’, annoyed facial expressions, arms crossed, turns back on others
  • Complains about others behind their back but does not discuss issues with the person themselves
  • Can cause a lot of difficulty in a team environment as can spread rumours, twist information and cause unrest

Passive communication: You’re ok, I’m not ok

  • Compliant, submissive, talks little, vague non-committal communication, puts self down, praises others
  • “I don’t mind…that’s fine…”
  • Has no opinion other than that the other person/s are always more important, so it doesn’t matter what they think anyway
  • Avoids eye contact, looks down, teary, pleading
  • Body language: Makes body smaller, stooped, leaning, hunched shoulders hands together, fidgety
  • Give in to others, don’t get what we want or need, self-critical thoughts, miserable

 Assertive communication: I’m okay, you’re okay                

  • Expresses honest opinions and feelings in a tactful way, actions and expressions fit with words spoken, firm but polite and clear messages, respectful of self and others
  • “I understand why you might feel that way but I feel…”, “That’s a good idea, and how about if we did this too…” or “I can see that, but I’d really like…”
  • Believes or acts as if all the individuals involved are equal, each deserving of respect, and no more entitled than the other to have things done their way
  • Body language is warm, welcoming, friendly, comfortable eye contact, relaxed, open, welcoming, appropriate gestures
  • Good relationships with others, happy with outcome and to compromise

Basic Assertion: State what you want, feel, need clearly

      E.g. “I would like you to try to resolve the issue”, “I feel upset”

Empathic assertion: Express understanding of how the other person feels and state what you’d like to change

E.g. “I appreciate that you don’t like the new procedure, however, I’d like you to keep working on     it”

Consequence Assertion: Express what the consequence will be if the other person does not do something

E.g. “If you do not start meeting your deadlines I will have to commence performance management procedures”

Discrepancy Assertion: Express that there is a discrepancy between two aspects of an issue or inconsistency in someone’s directions

      E.g. “We agreed that Project A was top priority, but now you are asking me to work on Project B. Can you clarify which is the priority?”

Negative Feelings Assertion: Expressing negative feelings towards another person in a non-aggressive way

      E.g. “WHEN YOU…. IT AFFECTS (me in this way). I FEEL (feelings). CAN YOU  PLEASE (do this   instead).”

Broken Record Technique: Repeat your message again and again in similar language

Columbo Technique: Having a confused demeanor to get people talking and then slip in the real question

E.g. “Hey, how are you going? Nice day isn’t it. I’m a bit confused, did you say that you would do that task or am I getting that wrong?”