Fort Wellness Counseling

What is Assertive Communication?

what is assertive communication?

So, what is assertive communication? Well, in a nutshell, this communication style aims to express an individual’s needs openly, confidently, and positively without violating the other person in the conversation. And by doing so, it can strengthen your relationships, reduces conflict-induced stress, and provides social support.

Here at Fort Wellness Counseling, we help our clients develop assertive communication for a number of reasons. Not only does it prevent folks from overloading their schedules by learning to say no effectively, but it also helps people navigate difficult family members, coworkers, and other difficult relationships. And of course, it ensures your individual needs are being accounted for.

Want to learn how to have a conversation using assertive conversation? Stick with us, as today’s blog post reveals the three key components of assertive communication.

What Is Assertive Communication?

So, what is assertive communication anyway? Many people mistake this style of communication for aggressiveness. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Assertive conversations are the middle ground between passivity and aggressiveness. By confidently and determinedly communicating one’s needs, assertive communication helps people draw healthy boundaries. Essentially, assertive communication is a way of meeting your needs without alienating others or letting resentment rear its ugly head.

Assertive communication consists of a set of behaviors that can include (but aren’t limited to) the following:

  • Saying no
  • Expressing an opinion
  • Pursuing personal goals
  • Refusing unreasonable requests
  • Asking someone to behave differently
  • Communicating how something has made you feel

How to Have Assertive Conversation

Learning to speak assertively takes practice. And folks experiencing emotional difficulties — like anxiety, for example — might take a bit more practice than others. However, everyone can develop assertive communication skills. All you need to do is follow these steps:

Be Honest About Your Dislikes

The very first step to having an assertive conversation is being honest with yourself (and others) about what you’re feeling. What habits or behaviors do you dislike? And why do you dislike them? Before you do anything, take some time to determine the exact emotions that you’re feeling and why you feel that way.

Then, when you’re ready to approach the individual about those behaviors, use detailed, factual descriptions to articulate your feelings. If you want them to be receptive to what you’re saying, you can’t rely on negative labels or words that convey judgment.  Remember, you are wanting to have a good outcome from the conversation and a win-win.

Don’t Judge or Exaggerate

In order for assertive conversations to be successful, you have to stick to the facts. As you address the behavior that you would like changed, try not to be dramatic in the details or pass judgments. As you can probably imagine, this puts the other person on the defensive, and the conversation goes nowhere. Instead, simply state what upsets you and why.  Think win win.  

Use “I” Statements

Assertive conversations are not the time to be accusatory or aggressive. (Let’s be honest – is there ever a time?) When you start sentences saying “you this” and “you that,” your listener puts walls up. But on the flip side, starting sentences with “I” automatically makes them more receptive. By focusing on your feelings, you demonstrate ownership of your actions. That minimizes your listener’s defensiveness and puts you both on the path toward positive change.

Putting It All Together

If you have a conversation that is going to need assertive conversation in the near future, remember to list the problematic behaviors, the results of such, and how you feel about it all. Here at Fort Wellness Counseling, we encourage our clients to use this formula:

“When you [insert behavior], then [insert the result of the behavior], and I feel [insert feeling].”

Talk Therapy in Fort Worth, Texas

So, what is assertive communication? Well, we hope today’s blog post gave you the answer. As we mentioned, assertiveness is a communication style that everyone can master – it just takes time. However, if you’re struggling to perfect it on your own, working with a licensed counselor can help.

Here at Fort Wellness Counseling, we’ve helped plenty of people strengthen their communication skills through individual therapy, specialty counseling, and life coaching services. And, we would love to do the same for you.

Your needs deserve to be met. Contact our team to access some potentially life-changing tools and coping skills today.

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