Emotional Intelligence Series: Communicating Assertively

business people

What is Assertiveness?

Assertiveness is an emotionally intelligent style of communicating that allows you to express your needs, wants, feelings and requests without trampling on the needs, wants, feelings and requests of others.

Why should I be assertive?

Assertiveness is an open, respectful, honest and direct form of communicating which strives towards a win/win goal between you and the receiver of your message.  Assertive communication therefore helps build strong relationships.

With assertiveness, messages are:

Clear (no beating around the bush),

Clean (no judgment), and

Concise (no waffling).

Compare these two statements in relation to a friend asking you to baby-sit:

1: “I suppose I could try to help you by baby-sitting for you, but I need to check first if I can swap my shift at work…I’m sure there will be a way…I just need to see if my boss will let me ring a casual to offer them a shift and then I will let you know. I was supposed to go to the theatre this evening but I can just tell my friends that something has come up and postpone for another day”.

2: “I would love to help you but unfortunately I already have plans that can’t be changed”.

The 2nd statement is clean, clear and concise, and the receiver of the message is likely to take you seriously.  With the 1st statement, you are leaving yourself open to feeling forced to change your plans and put your own needs last.

What gets in the way of communicating assertively?

From my experience, the key barriers to communicating assertively are wanting to please others, having a fear of not being liked, experiencing difficulties saying “no”, and feeling guilty.

You can see from the example above that the speaker in scenario 1 is likely experiencing all of these barriers to being assertive, hence the lengthy explanation in relation to being asked to baby-sit.

How can I be assertive?

You can start by acknowledging that you are entitled to your own feelings, thoughts, needs, wants and experiences.

Next, you can start practicing using “I statements”.

What are “I statements”?

  • “I statements” help you to communicate your feelings and requests in a clean, clear and concise way.
  • “I statements” help the receiver of your message understand how you are feeling without blaming them for this emotion.
  • “I statements” are helpful as they open up a line of communication

What are “you statements”?

  • “You statements” start with the word “you” and imply that the other person is responsible for the way that you feel.
  • “You” statements may be interpreted as judgmental and blaming and are not necessarily helpful in resolving an issue.
  • “You statements” tend to make the receiver of your message respond defensively

Here’s an example:

“I feel annoyed when we have plans to catch up and then they are cancelled within minutes of our meeting time” vs. “you are really rude and thoughtless about catching up with me”.

Actually, it is my choice to feel hurt, angry, bored, happy, or any other emotion about whatever happens.  I choose to feel what I feel and another person might feel differently in the same circumstance.  Since I rather than you am responsible for my feelings, an “I” message is a more honest statement as it reflects the source of my feelings.

A simple formula

Try this formula to practice being assertive:

I feel …………………………………………………………………………. (name a feeling)

When ………………………………………………………………………… (describe the behaviour)

Because …………………………………………………………………….. (effect on you)

I would like …………………………………………………………………. (positive request for change)

How is that for you?……………………………………………………     (ask for their feedback)

 

Example:

I feel …… frustrated

When …… I get interrupted during conversation

Because …… I lose my train of thought

I would like …… to be able to finish what I say before you speak

Would that be ok?

If you would like some personalised assistance with developing your emotional intelligence or assertiveness skills, send me an email

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About psyched4success

"Psyched4Success" encapsulates the 4 foundations for Successful living: Heart - Emotions and Relationships Mind - Psychology and Thinking Body - Physical Health, Movement and Nutrition Spirit - Personal Essence, Values, Goals and Motivation I am a Psychologist with a passion for Holistic Health and Wellness, determined to inspire personal transformation in these foundational areas for success. When i am not working as a Psychologist, Corporate Trainer, and University Tutor, i love spending countless hours in the kitchen creating nutritious organic meals, inspired by a whole foods philosophy, free of gluten, sugar and dairy. I intend to share my creations with you here, as well as my journey from adrenal fatigue to health through my own personal, health, nutrition and lifestyle transformations. I am based in Sydney, Australia, but am an intrepid soul who sets an intention to visit a new destination each year.
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One Response to Emotional Intelligence Series: Communicating Assertively

  1. Pingback: Emotional Intelligence Series: Owning your Feelings | Psyched4Success

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