Counselling Twickenham, Whitton I work with:
counselling for depression
counselling for anxiety
survivors of rape
Or email me first
More Effective Communication Through Assertive Communication:
Being assertive is an essential communication skill if we want to be respected and understood, especially by those we love and respect. Being assertive means that you are able to express yourself openly and directly, without fear of being judged. It is about being able to stand up for your point of view, while respecting the rights and beliefs of others. Assertiveness means communicating feelings, thoughts & beliefs in a way which asserts your point of view with conviction, but without violating the rights of others. It is an alternative to being passive aggressive or aggressive where we abuse other people’s rights, and passive where we allow our own rights to be abused by others. It can help you boost your self-esteem and earn you the respect of others. This can help with stress management, especially if you tend to take on too many tasks and responsibilities, because you constantly feel the need to please others. Or you have a hard time saying no.
Assertiveness does not mean that you express yourself aggressively, by making unreasonable demands or meeting your needs at the expense of others. Nor does assertiveness mean that you continually exercise your rights at all costs, without considering the consequences. It is about achieving a sense of balance between both parties and communicating in a way which seeks a mutually satisfying resolution. Even in an argument. In this sense, assertiveness requires an act of communication which is honest and confident, but also non-judgemental and open to understanding the views of others.
Assertiveness is not necessarily easy, however, because it can lead to confrontation or being challenged, but it is a skill that can be learned to improve your life. Developing your assertiveness starts with a good understanding of who you are and a belief in your own value and self-worth. When you have the ability to take ownership of your beliefs and actions, you have the basis of self-confidence and self-awareness, because you are taking responsibility.
Assertiveness helps to build on that self-confidence and provides many other benefits for improving close relationships at home and at work. In general, assertive people move towards outcomes which are "win-win" as they see the value in their opponents and in his/her position, and can quickly find common ground. They are often better problem-solvers – as they feel empowered to take calculated risks do whatever it takes to find a resolution. They are less stressed because they are more aware of their personal power and they don't feel threatened or victimized when things don't go as expected. They do not procrastinate because they are proactive and they get things done because they know they can. When you act assertively you act fairly and with empathy. The power you use comes from your self-assurance and not from an ability to use your power to intimidate or bully. When you treat others with such fairness and respect, you get that same treatment in return. You are well liked and people see you as a leader and someone they want to work with.
In order to be more assertive it is important to recognise and identify the characteristics of communication. This will enable you to take practical steps towards everyday assertiveness.
Firm, relaxed voice tone
Fluent conversational style with few hesitations and an even steady pace
A voice tone which is middle of the range, rich and warm
Being sincere and open with a clear voice
Using “I” statements (“I like”, “I want”, “I don’t like”) that are brief and to the point "To my mind", "I believe that..."
Cooperative phrases which invite feedback e.g. “What are your thoughts on this”
Emphatic and decisive statements of interest, e.g., “I would like to”
Distinction between fact and opinion e.g. “In my experience...”
Suggestions without “shoulds” or “musts” e.g. “How about…” or “Would you like to…”
Constructive criticism without blame, e.g., “I feel irritated when you interrupt me”
Seeking others opinions, e.g., “How does this fit in with your ideas”
A willingness to explore other solutions and alternatives, e.g., “How can we get around this problem?”
Evaluating the issues more considerately and reflectively; accepting there are alternatives
Being receptive and responsive listening
Using direct eye contact with a steady gaze
having a steady, open body stance
Using open hand movements and gestures
Smiling when pleased
Frowning when angry
Facial features which are steady
Posture relaxed and upright
“I won’t allow you to take advantage of me and I won’t attack you for being who you are”
My feelings are valid and reasonable when I express them, but not necessarily right
It is OK for me to express negative feelings if they are appropriate to the situation
The Payoffs of Assertiveness:
The more you stand up for yourself and act in a manner you respect, the higher your self esteem
Your chances of getting what you want out of life improve greatly
Expressing yourself directly at the time means that resentment doesn’t build up
If you are less driven by the needs of selfprotection and less preoccupied with self consciousness then
you can see, hear and love others more easily
The Cost of Assertiveness:
Friends & family may have benefited from you being passive and may try to sabotage your new assertiveness or they may be conditioned to an aggressive response from you and still feel defensive in your presence
You are reshaping beliefs and values you have held since childhood and it can feel very risky adopting a new way of communicating
There is no guarantee of the outcome and there is often some confrontation involved in being assertive as you stand up for yourself
You cannot be an effective communicator all the time. You may be more assertive with strangers or casual acquaintances, but find it harder to do so with loved ones and co-workers. There are times when it is good to be aggressive in your communication. For example, if your life or property is in danger, it might not be the best time to practice assertive communication. There are also good times to be more passive, such as when you are being reasonably and appropriately reprimanded by someone in authority for making a mistake. You can learn to choose when it is appropriate to assert yourself, and when it is best to use other forms of communication. Learning these skills takes time and practice, but learning how to use assertive communication effectively can pay real dividends when people trust you to speak your mind. Even when they don’t like hearing what you have to say. Developing your assertiveness is not only an essential skill to improve your communication, it leads to a less stressful life. Some people are naturally more assertive than others. If your disposition tends more towards being either passive-aggressive or aggressive, you need to work on the following skills to develop your assertiveness:
Value yourself and your rights - understand that your rights, thoughts, feelings, needs and desires are no less or no more important than anyone else's. You are therefore more willing to recognise your rights and protect them. You begin to believe you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity at all times. But not at the expense of others. You stop apologizing inappropriately because you have the confidence to believe self-interest (not selfishness) is fair and just.
Identify your needs and wants, and ask for them to be met – do not wait for someone to recognize what you need and do things for you. This is learned helplessness and leads to dependence. You need to understand that to perform to your full potential, your needs must be met. We all need to feel fulfilled. So attempt to find ways to get your needs met without sacrificing the needs of others in the process.
Acknowledge that people are responsible for themselves – do not make the mistake of accepting responsibility for the how people react to you. Being assertive and seeing to your own needs is not aggressive or selfish. Do not accept statements like: ‘you make me feel so angry’, because you are not responsible for how others react to you, they are. You can only control yourself. As long as you are not actively and intentionally violating someone else's needs, then you have the right to say or do what you want.
Do not swallow your feelings, express them openly without fear or favour - express negative thoughts and feelings in a healthy and positive manner. As long as you do not intend to burden others and coerce them to accept responsibility for your feelings, you need to express negative feelings. If you cannot express anger, sadness, frustration or resentment they will leak out in you communication in other ways or you will snap. This means that people will find it difficult to trust you. Expressing difficult emotions is not always negative. For example expressing anger can be impulsive and destructive if you shout, scream and use violence. But if you express anger early on, in a but meaningful way it can protect you from harm, establish appropriate boundaries and motivate you to stand up for your rights. Allow yourself to be angry, but always be respectful. Say what's on your mind, but not in ways that protect the other person's feelings. Manage and regulate the intensity of your emotions. Stand up for yourself and confront people who challenge you and/or your rights.
Receive feedback, criticism and compliments positively – accept feedback from others positively. Be prepared to say you don't agree but do not get defensive or angry. You may learn something completely new about yourself and be far more likely to trust a person who is open and honest with you. Allow yourself to make mistakes and ask for help. If you are to gain self-acceptance and respect you need to own your strengths and weaknesses. Do not seek to blame yourself or others, but take responsibility and act to correct your mistakes or put things right. Also accept other people’s compliments graciously.
Learn to say "No" when it’s appropriate – be aware of your limits and what will cause you to feel manipulated or taken advantage of. Be aware that you cannot please everyone all of the time, or do everything to everyone’s satisfaction. This often leads to more dissatisfaction as we please no one. Instead, go with what is right for you, even if it means you may upset others, not because you intend to. Occasionally, suggest an alternative for a win-win solution between you and the other person.