Get Your Point Across – ProperlyPosted: 20th of April 2015 by
There is a difference between being rude and being assertive. Being assertive is a great skill to learn as it allows you to know and express what you feel and need. Of course, to do this successfully, without tipping over into rudeness, you need to balance your needs with being polite and sensitive to those of others. Assertiveness comes somewhere between being pushy or rude and being passive or a walk-over. In order to understand how to be assertive, it is worth knowing what being overly passive or aggressive is like.
If you are too passive you may have a tendency to use hints in the hope that others will notice how you feel. You may also have a tendency to bottle up negative emotions and anger. Being passive doesn’t necessarily mean you never try to get your point across, but you may end up resorting to passive-aggressive tactics, like trying to use guilt to manipulate others, rather than just saying how you feel.
On the other hand, you may be too aggressive in your communication. You may have a tendency to ignore others and intimidate, shout, or otherwise bully others into doing what you want. You may also have a tendency to undermine the views and feelings of others by being sarcastic or making jokes at the expense of those you don’t agree with.
Neither of these are ideal, and are likely to lose you friends and respect. However, by being assertive in your communication with others you can maintain your own self-respect without damaging that of others.
The first step of being assertive is in knowing how you are feeling. If you are one to bury your emotions, have a listen to them instead, and see what might be troubling you. Once you learn how to listen to your own feelings you will be able to see where you might need to communicate better in order to tackle any problems. For example, if you have a friend that has habit of making fun of you, perhaps you need to let them know that you don’t find their ‘banter’ funny.
Once you have begun to get an idea of your feelings you will be ready to start communicating them assertively, offering clear messages of what you want. You must remember to speak clearly and with respect for others. It is not about blame, but rather about saying how you feel. Therefore, it is a good idea to use clear examples to describe how you feel – using the word “I.” For example, you could say to a shop-worker, “I noticed this top had a hole in it when I got home. I would like a refund.”
Stay relaxed while you state your message. You are not starting a fight, merely expressing your desires and stating what you want. Stating what you want, with respect, and knowing how far you are willing to negotiate (a replacement top / credit note?) are also important.
Assertive communication can help in a number of situations. For example, you may have had to miss some lessons and need to explain why to your teacher. Rather than getting worried, you could say, “I missed a few lessons recently, can I have a few moments to explain why and work out how I can get help to catch up.” Here, you are offering an explanation and asking for help with a solution, assertively.
If you know you need to act self-assertively, it might be worth practising what you are going to say first. Try speaking into a mirror and watching out for signs of nervousness or aggression. Stay calm, and keep your voice level. With practice it will become second-nature to be assertive, and people will probably treat you better for it too! Practice your new self-assertive style of communicating in a neutral environment, where the outcome won’t matter too much, such as in a shop speaking to someone you don’t know.
Being self-assertive can become like a habit if you keep at it, just remember it is all about having the freedom to express how you feel about something calmly and respectfully. You have the right to set your own limits and others ought to respect them too. It may seem odd to start with, but being self-assertive can be empowering, why not give it a try?
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