Asking for what we ‘need’, asserting our desires and opinions can feel incredibly difficult, at times.
To be direct about what you need or want can be misinterpreted and you fear of coming across as selfish or stubborn.
However, knowing the difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication can help you to ensure that you communicate with confidence, clarity and care for others.
Tune in to this weeks episode to get my steps on how to train the assertiveness muscle. Here below I then summarised the key steps for your practice.
Instructions to practice your assertiveness
- Identify a situation at work in which you feel you could have been more assertive. Reflect on how you might have benefited specifically from being more assertive. What would have been your wins.
- Now, think of a need that you could meet by improving your communication skill. For example, say you’re at the gym and you need to use a piece of equipment that another gym-goer has claimed, even though they’ve been talking to a friend for several minutes.
- Using the example above as a guide, brainstorm three ways you could respond to the situation: one passive, one aggressive, and one assertive. It’s okay if your responses are a bit over-the-top to start; this will help you to learn the difference.
a. Passive: You give up on using the piece of equipment, even though you really needed it to complete your routine, and simply walk away.
b. Aggressive: You grab the piece of equipment and tell the other gym-goer, “You clearly aren’t using this, so I’m going to take it.”
c. Assertive: You ask the other gym-goer if it would be alright to “work in” with her by sharing the equipment, since you both need it for the exercise you’re trying to do.
- Take a moment to consider the differences between each mode of response: Which one seems the most natural to you? Which seems the most difficult? How else could you respond assertively in the situation?
- Now, identify a current situation at work where assertiveness seems like it would be helpful. If you find yourself nursing resentment or frustration about something, it’s a strong sign that the problem should be addressed with intention. In order to prepare, try the following:
- Be honest with yourself as you evaluate the situation. Take your time. You can’t communicate effectively unless you have a clear view of your own thoughts and feelings. How might you describe the situation if you were writing it up, or writing it out to describe it to somebody?
- Imagine yourself remaining firm, positive, unapologetic and non-defensive. Get as real as possible. Picture how your body will feel and your voice will sound.
- Plan (or even write out) what you will say. If you want, you can even ask a trusted friend or your coach and practice the role play with them.
- Take the plunge and try it out! You may be pleasantly surprised at how well people respond to calm, assertive statements. If not, know that you have brought an important issue to light, and a little conflict is healthy.