Written by: Eryn Elizabeth Cloutier, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation and thought to yourself, this person is not listening to me.
Conversation is an opportunity for dynamic change. Through different types of communication ideas are conveyed. Assertive communication is the key to getting what you need.
Assertive communication is a genuine expression of an individual’s needs, wants, and feelings.
Learning how to be assertive can be scary, especially if you are someone who is socially anxious. Thinking negatively about how someone else will respond will hinder your opportunity for positive change. Allowing your decisions to be influenced by negative thoughts may foster people-pleasing behavior, resentment, increased anxiety, depression and so forth. Being assertive empowers you to direct the outcome of the conversation and instills confidence.
Individuals who are able to communicate assertively respect themselves. They take responsibility for their own actions. They treat others with mutual respect and share information in a non-threatening and non-judgemental manner.
Other traits of effective communicators include:
Clearly stating needs and wants
Utilizing an appropriate tone of voice
Confident body language
Eye contact (if culturally appropriate)
Identify areas to improve:
Is it hard for me to express my thoughts and feelings?
Is it hard for me to ask questions?
Where can I set better boundaries?
Take some time to plan and think about what you want to say. It’s okay to step away from the situation. If you are not able to remove yourself from the situation, take a few deep breaths.
Say, “No” when you need to. Be clear, be honest and when an appropriate offer to help find another solution.
It’s okay to disagree. Your wants, needs, and rights are as valuable as anybody else’s. It’s healthy to express yourself, as long as you are respectful toward the rights of others.
Being assertive is not selfish. You know yourself better than anybody else and it’s important to advocate for yourself.
You don’t have to do what others tell you. You decide what’s in your best interest.
Be vulnerable. Being vulnerable can be scary, but it offers the opportunity to feel heard and connect with others on another level.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Show an interest in what the other person is saying.
All conversations end. Be graceful.
Small ways to get started
Give someone a compliment
Talk to a neighbor
Initiate a conversation with a co-worker
Ask a friend to get together
Say hello to a stranger
Examples of Assertive Communication
“I’m having a difficult time concentrating with music playing. Would you mind using your headphones?”
“I will not be able to make it to the game this weekend. I wish you luck!”
“I would love to meet for lunch, but I have a meeting and I will not have enough time. Let’s schedule another time to meet now.”
If you begin to practice assertive communication, you will notice a positive shift within yourself and healthy changes in your personal and professional relationships.
Eryn Elizabeth Cloutier, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Eryn Cloutier is a psychotherapist and educator who works with adolescents and adults. She has always been interested in the mind/body connection, specifically cognition and emotion. Ms. Cloutier is a life-long learner who continues to explore and diversify her abilities to help others, and is passionate about guiding and supporting individuals in their journey to become the best version of themselves.