Develop your communication skills English or French by being assertive
One of the best books written on communication is “Don’t say ‘Yes’ when you want to say ‘No.’” If you dissect the title of the book, you will appreciate that it is a forceful statement. Learning the art of saying No is an act of assertiveness. Let us see why being assertive is one way of improving your relationships with people.
The importance of communication
Being human, we use verbal communication to exchange our views, opinions, and thoughts with people around us. The principal idea behind communication is that we have interaction with each other. Effective communication is one of the prime requisites of positive interaction. What is effective communication? To understand this concept, let us see the different styles of communication we use in life.
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Three communication styles
Most of the English speaking courses like the ones conducted by Wizmantra Institute and the personality development workshops concentrate on developing effective communication skills. Whenever you communicate with people, you classify the communication into the following three communication styles.
Which characteristic do you exhibit?
Do you always agree with others irrespective of what you think or feel? The reason is that you do not wish to offend the other person by contradicting his/her views. If this is how you behave, you belong to the category of people who adopt a passive approach. It entails that you end up saying “Yes” when you want to say “No.” The result is that you start losing the respect of the same people you did not want to offend. People start underestimating you whereby you do not get the opportunities you deserve.
Are you the argumentative type who regularly judges and disagrees with people over the most trivial matters? Do you use aggressive gestures like wagging your index finger while speaking with people? Do you like to force your opinion on people regardless of whether they sought it or not? If the response to any of the above questions is in the affirmative, you belong to the category of people termed as ‘Aggressive.’
You also display aggressive communications skills if you ignore people purposefully or do not consider the views of others. You end up disagreeing with people, and you lose the respect you have. People start avoiding you thereby leading to ruined relationships.
Being assertive is to maintain a delicate balance between displaying passivity and aggressive behavior. You make your point and still do not end up offending people. Is this not what should aim for when communicating with people?
With this background, we shall now define what constitutes being assertive. Showing assertiveness is a core communication skill. You express yourself effectively and maintain your point of view while respecting the views and opinions of others at the same time. It makes you acceptable to a large section of society. It also helps to boost your confidence and self-esteem while earning the respect of others. Therefore, you develop the habit of saying ‘No’ when you want to say ‘No.’
Learn to be assertive in your communication
Being assertive is the best way to improve your relations with people. You project yourself as a person having a lot of self-respect without hurting the egos of others. Wizmantra emphasizes a lot on developing this trait in people as a means of increasing the effectiveness of communication.
Here is an example that explains how you can be assertive in your communication.
You plan to go on a vacation for a week and are looking forward to doing so. In the meanwhile, your boss places a pile of work on your table in the afternoon and demands that you complete the task. That is what you refer to as aggressive behavior. Both of you know that the work is not urgent. It implies that he/she disregards your feelings.
How do you handle such a situation?
1. You meekly succumb to your boss and put your vacation on the backburner. It is a sign of passive behavior.
2. You bluntly refuse to do the work and end up hurting the boss’ ego. You display an aggressive approach. It might work for the moment, but your boos would be itching to get back at you at the earliest opportunity. It spoils your relation with your boss and could affect your career as well.
3. You strike a balance and inform your boss that the work will be done but after you return from the vacation. By making such a statement, you assert your rights and at the same time, respect your boss’ need to get the work done.
Do you agree that the third option is the best one of all?
Benefits of being assertive
Being assertive is being honest with yourself and the situation on hand. Your assertive behavior benefits both the parties. You maintain your self-esteem while not hurting the other person’s ego at the same time. The other party feels satisfied. You make your point effectively, and most importantly, get the work done.
Feel less stressful:
When you display aggressiveness, you make a forceful point, but you feel stressed out. At the same time, being assertive fetches you the same results without the element of stress. You still make your point, but respect the opponent’s feelings. Hence, your opponent accepts your point of view and gives you the respect you deserve.
Bring the element of trust in the relationship
Trust is a critical aspect that affects relationships. It could be friendship, companionship, marital relationship, parental, or professional. When you are assertive in your statements, you develop the element of trust. When you show passivity, people do not take you seriously. At the same time, people resent you when you display aggressiveness. Thus, assertiveness builds up the trust factor and improves the connection you forge with people.
Become more confident than ever
Being assertive increases your self-esteem without lower that of the others. You are practically in a win-win situation in your relationships with people. It makes you more confident that you ever were. However, it is better to remember that there is a very thin line separating assertiveness and aggressive behavior. The moment you become overconfident, you start growing aggressive. Maintaining the balance is crucial to cement a great relationship.
How do you assert yourself?
Every person goes through phases in life where they exhibit all the communication traits. It is difficult to be assertive all the time, but it is possible if you make the right effort. If you tend to be more passive or aggressive in your approach, you should concentrate on the following areas to adopt a balancing posture.
Before you understand others, you should understand yourself. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Believe in yourself if you want others to believe you. If you do so, you will add value to yourself and your team/organization.
Self-esteem or self-confidence is critical to displaying assertive behavior. If you are confident enough to stick to your rights and protect them, you end up being true to yourself. Automatically, you realize that others have their self-respect and egos. This realization is enough for you to respect their rights without downplaying your self-esteem.
A small tip – Self-esteem is vital, but an overdose of self-esteem could lead to self-importance. That could lead to a disastrous situation. Remember, the secret of assertiveness is that you realize your thoughts, opinions, and rights are equally important to that of the others.
Note that you should know what your priorities are. At the same time, you should also know how to achieve them. Remember, everyone is busy with their work. At least, they like to show they are busy. Hence, you should not wait for anyone to recognize your needs. You should be ready to take the initiative. In doing so, you open up possibilities and find ways how to achieve your goals. Otherwise, you end up waiting forever.
Remember, you have to achieve your needs without sacrificing the needs of others. It could require requesting people to help you out. Being aggressive is not going to help you at all. You could end up rubbing people the wrong way and end up jeopardizing your relationship with people.
A small tip – Be polite in your request, but stick to your guns without compromising on your needs.
You have to be assertive, but you cannot control how people will respond to your assertiveness. They could become aggressive or resentful. The natural course of action is that you will react similarly. Refrain from such reactions. Display a calm and understanding attitude towards people. Circumstances could have caused their resentment, but that does not mean you were wrong in placing your request. As long as you show respect to the feelings of others and do not violate their needs, you have the right to think and say what you want.
A small tip – Staying calm and composed can help you relieve the tension. People will ultimately relate to your point of view if you display a sound sense of understanding.
Controlling your emotions plays a very crucial role in adopting a positive attitude. When you manage your emotions, you tend to stay respectful at all times. You develop the knack of standing up to your rights and make a forceful statement without displaying any anger or stress. It is a sign of constructive and sensitive behavior. When you display a positive attitude, you end up voicing your opinions without causing disrespect to others.
A small tip – A negative approach will always bring you down whereas a positive response can help deal with any issue effectively.
Remember, you cannot be right all the time. You should develop the condescending attitude of accepting your mistakes when you receive negative feedback from others. Do not become overly defensive or angry at criticism. Admitting your genuine mistakes builds up your reputation in the eyes of others. You start gaining the respect of people. It does improve your communication skills.
There will be occasions when you would have to say ‘No.’ This example will clarify things better. You have many assignments on your table. You are running short of time to complete them. At the same time, you have to attend your daughter’s school gathering. Under such circumstances, you should develop the attitude to say ‘No’ to any further assignment that comes your way. Remember, you cannot please all the people all the time. Saying ‘No’ initially can help you from enduring the embarrassment if you had agreed to the task and not been able to complete it. On the other hand, you will notice that people will appreciate this act of honesty thereby boosting your self-esteem.
Some Assertive Communication techniques
We have seen how to be assertive your communications. Following these techniques can help you achieve this objective.
• Use ‘First Person’ language:
The use of the word ‘I’ in your communications can enable you to get your point across firmly. Example – “I feel strongly that third-party mediation will solve this issue permanently.”
• Show empathy to others:
Recognize and respect the other person’s view. Consider them before you proceed to make your point.
Example – “I understand that you have trouble working with Sanjay, but he is the right person who can help you complete the assignment in time. We shall sit down and formulate a plan that suits us all.”
• Know when to escalate:
Sometimes, you might need to escalate matters when your initial attempts to solving the same do not bear fruit in spite of display the maximum level of assertiveness. Under such circumstances, you should know how to escalate the matter to the next level without disrespecting anyone.
Example – “Sanjay, this is the second time I have seen you commit this mistake. If you repeat the same, I will be forced to take disciplinary action against you.”
• Seek more time:
You could be at the receiving end at times. Let us see how to seek more time while being assertive in your communication.
Example – “Richard, your queries have opened up a new window, and I am caught off guard. I will get back to you with a concrete solution within the next half an hour.”
We have seen how being assertive in your views can help you communicate effectively with others. You end up getting your work done without harming anyone’s ego or disrespecting them. In the bargain, you end up increasing your self-esteem and becoming more confident than ever.