I am confident that most of you will be able to resonate with this experience…I was with a group of friends last week and we were all deciding on where to go to dinner. One person claimed that they didn’t care. Another person made a suggestion and then the person who said they didn’t care said they didn’t like that place.
But they just said they didn’t care…
So we all threw out a few more options and the person who objected the most was the person who claimed they didn’t care. Obviously, in reality, they did!
I was noticing this pattern and asked the person where they would like to go. They again claimed they didn’t care and didn’t want to hold up the group. I told them that we had offered several suggestions and all of them were shut down. I asked this individual to suggest three places they would like to go. With a little persistence and encouragement, they offered three suggestions and we were able to establish a place to dine. Hurray!
All of us within the group have different communication styles. As we navigate different relationships and connections it is important to understand the three main communication styles: passive, aggressive, and assertive.
Have you noticed how tricky it is to navigate conversations with people who are passive or aggressive? Or a combination of both?! There are times and places for each style, however, making the assertive communication style your baseline will improve your ability to connect with others, find common ground, and establish trust with others.
Being assertive, at its core, is asking for what you want while preserving and maintaining the dignity of others. How do you become an assertive communicator when you've been taught to communicate in a passive or aggressive style? The trick is to practice these assertive communication traits:
Use "I" statements
Listen to understand
Stand your ground
"No, thank you" is a complete sentence
Give real time feedback 80% of the time
Validate you heard the person
Look directly at the person
Maintain open posture
It takes practice to be an assertive communicator. Take a step back and see what traits you may be needing to incorporate into your communication. As you practice being an assertive communicator you will see your relationships become deeper, richer, and more fulfilling. Remember to ask for what you want, express your feelings, and say no to things you don’t want.
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