Communication Styles: Be Assertive!

by Andrew Gatus, Artius Pyschcologist Sunshine Coast

For some of us, communicating and getting our point across to others can seem particularly difficult, especially when we fear being judged or criticised by others, or when we fear others may respond negatively. However, expressing our own needs, views and ideas is an important part of everyday life.

Assertive vs Aggressive Communication

Assertiveness means expressing your point of view in a way that is clear and direct, whilst still respecting others. Often people will feel they may be acting aggressively to others when communicating in such a manner, however, there are several key differences between communicating with aggressiveness and communicating with assertiveness. For instance, assertiveness involves:

  • Expressing your needs clearly but respectfully
  • Treating others with respect
  • Considering your own as well as other’s needs
  • Offering compromises
  • Strengthening relationships
  • Using clear language to get a point of view across
  • Building self-esteem

In contrast, aggressiveness may involve:

  • Forcing your needs or opinions on others
  • Bullying or pushing others around
  • Not considering other’s needs
  • Offering no compromise
  • Damaging a relationship
  • Shouting and acting in physically aggressive ways
  • Damaging others self-esteem

Passive Communication

Some of us may use a more passive style of communication in which we fail to speak up for our own views, believing that they don’t matter or that doing so may cause disharmony. You may find you put others needs before your own, allow yourself to be ignored or bullied, undermine your own point of view, speak quietly or with unconfident body language. This style of communication can often lead to others ignoring you, making you feel hurt, angry or sad. 

How to Be Assertive

To be assertive we need to be strike a perfect balance between passive and aggressive forms of communication. For instance:

  • If we feel angry, be mindful of how we express this anger to others
  • Make clear, direct requests and avoid talking in a roundabout manner
  • Validate others feelings during conversation
  • Listen to, respect and acknowledge others points of view
  • Be collaborative when working with others
  • Ensure your body language matches your verbal message
  • Use “I” statements when possible