Communication Skills: Tips to improve your assertiveness
In the previous blog we looked at some of the reasons that can influence our assertiveness and dictate whether or not we are assertive, aggressive or submissive in our approach to others. So how exactly can I be assertive without alienating others or putting the values of others ahead of my own?
Let’s look at three instances where you may wish to be assertive:
1. Pushing back or saying no to a request. This technique is referred to as Basic Assertiveness and works as follows:
- Assess the reasonableness of the request
- Ask questions to clarify the situation
- If the request is unreasonable, say No
- Avoid saying sorry or offering excuses
- Look for alternative solutions
2. Delivering difficult news, which sometimes we ourselves do not agree with. This technique is referred to as Empathetic Assertiveness and works as follows:
- Get to the point and explain the situation – stick to the relevant facts!
- Listen to them
- Say how you feel – use words such as I understand, but avoid saying sorry
- Look to the future and explore what happens next
3. Explaining to somebody that they are doing something (or in some cases not doing something) which is causing us harm. This technique is referred to as Negative Feelings Assertiveness and works as follows:
- Assume this person is oblivious to your feelings and look to raise their awareness
- Explain to them what they are doing – stick to the relevant facts!
- Explain to them how this makes you feel
- Discuss with them what you would like to happen in future to ensure this does not happen again
It is noticeable that all three techniques have some common traits:
- Establish the facts and then get to the point
- Empathise without being sympathetic and saying sorry
- Avoid looking backwards and focus the conversation on moving forward as quickly as possible