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Assertive Communication

Objectives:

  • Distinguish between assertiveness and aggressiveness.
  • Learn and apply techniques for effective assertive communication.

Introduction

Assertive communication is a critical skill in conflict resolution and general workplace interactions. It allows you to express your ideas, feelings, and needs clearly and directly, without infringing on the rights of others. This lesson aims to clarify the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness and provide techniques for assertive communication.

Assertiveness vs. Aggressiveness

  • Assertiveness: This involves standing up for your own rights and expressing your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a direct, honest, and appropriate way. It respects both your own needs and those of others.
  • Aggressiveness: This is a form of behavior where you pursue your own needs forcefully, disrespecting the needs, feelings, or rights of other people. Aggressive behavior often escalates conflict rather than resolving it.

Techniques for Assertive Communication

  • Use “I” Statements: Frame the conversation in terms of your own experiences and feelings without blaming or accusing the other party. For example, say “I feel overlooked when my contributions are not acknowledged” instead of “You never acknowledge my contributions.”
  • Be Specific and Clear: Clearly state your needs, feelings, or opinions without ambiguity. This leaves little room for misinterpretation.
  • Maintain Eye Contact: This shows confidence and helps you connect with the other person.
  • Mind Your Tone and Volume: Speak in a calm and clear voice. Being too loud can be perceived as aggressive, while being too soft can be seen as passive.
  • Active Listening: As discussed in the previous lesson, active listening is crucial. It shows respect for the other person’s viewpoint, even if you disagree.
  • Non-Verbal Cues: Your body language should align with your words. Stand or sit up straight, maintain good eye contact, and use open gestures.
  • Be Open to Feedback: After stating your point, allow the other person to respond and be open to discussion. This shows that you respect their opinion, even if you don’t agree with it.
  • Know When to Disengage: If the conversation is becoming unproductive or confrontational, it’s okay to step back and suggest revisiting the issue later.

Summary

Assertive communication is a balanced approach that respects both your rights and those of others. It is a crucial skill for effective conflict resolution and fosters a respectful and collaborative work environment. By understanding the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness and applying these techniques, you can navigate conflicts more effectively.