When it comes to assertive communication, there are basically two schools of thought. The first school teaches that assertive communication is about telling the truth as you feel. The second school of thought is more along the lines of “telling the truth while being polite.” Which one you choose really depends on your situation and the people involved.
When you talk about your opinions and how you feel in a polite and respectful way, you are practicing assertive communication. This is how we were taught to communicate in the past and it still is one of the best ways to communicate. While there is a time and place for “telling the truth,” today’s society prefers to hear what is said in a respectful way and with a modicum of honesty. Nowadays, there is more pressure than ever to be “right” and to say the right things at the right time. Thus, “telling the truth” has been pushed to the back of the list of priorities in today’s society.
However, while respecting others’ rights and feelings while still taking responsibility for ones own actions and decisions is a hallmark of assertiveness, you don’t have to be confrontational to be assertive. When you listen respectfully to someone and they are talking, you aren’t interrupting them and shouting over them. Instead, you are listening carefully and making the most of the communication process. You are considering their thoughts and learning more about them. This is truly the hallmark of successful assertive communication.
However, there are times when you need to be assertive, but you should use it in a way that is not confrontational. One of the major problems in today’s society is that we have lost the respect for people who have different views or beliefs from us. While respecting other people’s opinions, values and beliefs are important, there is no room for mean spiritedness or aggression in today’s society. Therefore, when it comes to assertive communication, you should use it only when you feel it is necessary. Remember, assertive behaviour is not always a sign of aggression.
Learning how to communicate assertively can take some practice. You need to know where to draw the line. The best way to learn how to communicate assertively is to speak up when you think there is a need to do so. If you consistently follow this simple rule of thumb, you will find that people are more willing to listen to you. They will respect you more, and they will also feel better around you. Therefore, using your natural assertiveness can take you a long way towards building mutual respect and understanding.
Learning how to use assertive communication skills in everyday situations can be difficult at first, but as your repertoire of verbal acumen increases, you will find that it becomes second nature. Remember that it is never too early to start an assertive communication practice. Remember that it will not get rid of all your negative habits, but it can help to balance them out. Furthermore, learning how to communicate assertively and respectfully will show others that you value them and their feelings, and you will start to attract the respect and esteem you deserve. This is the important first step towards building a healthy, mutually respectful relationship with others.