What is assertive communication and how do you use it to improve your relationships?
Imagine that you’re on a tight deadline for a specific project (e.g., a school assignment or work task) and have a full plate. One of your close friends asks you to do a last-minute favor for her. You want to say no so that you stay on track, but you also don’t want to come off as a bad friend. What would you do?
Perhaps you would yell at her for bothering you when you’re so busy. Or maybe you assertively tell her that you’d love to help, but you just can't. Or, maybe you say you’ll do it even knowing that you’ll be stressed and resentful for doing so. Each of these communication styles reflects our personal style, but one of them is likely to help us feel the best in the longer term: the assertive style.
Assertive communication has been defined as “the ability to speak and interact in a manner that considers and respects the rights and opinions of others while also standing up for your rights, needs, and personal boundaries” (Pipas & Jaradat, 2010, pp. 649). It includes the following characteristics:
Assertive communication has several benefits (e.g., Pipas & Jaradat, 2010; Bishop, 2013) including greater self-confidence, improved social skills, and a greater sense of control. According to researchers, assertiveness can also be a “tool [used to make] your relationships more equal” (Alberti & Emmons, 2017, pp. 14).
Ways to Communicate More Assertively
Ways to Communicate More Assertively in Relationships
Assertive communication can seem hard at first, but it is well worth taking the steps to practice because it may result in better self-esteem, enhanced relationships, and fewer conflicts.
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Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.