Why it’s Not Always a Good Idea to Wear Your Raccoon and Become an Assertive Communicator

Acceptable communication skills are one of the first steps towards healthy and mutually satisfying relationships. It is the key to creating a productive working environment where people are able to openly express their thoughts and ideas in a clear and respectful manner. When a good communication skills policy is in place, it helps to create a conducive and comfortable working environment. A strong and effective policy also helps to promote healthy and positive communication between all team members.

There are many types of communication styles – assertive, non-confrontational, conversational, and non-verbal. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks but all communicate a message of value. However, in the workplace particularly, some communication styles are used much more frequently than others and some are actually more important than others. For example, an assertive communication style is usually used in the financial and service industries, in which case, it is crucial that you understand the difference between this and other styles.

An assertive communication policy means that there is no ‘hesay’ about anything – it is stated outright and bluntly. Passive suggestions, negative criticism, insinuations, innuendos and emotive statements are generally avoided. An assertive communication style is also very direct and often puts people on the spot by forcing them to confront their deepest feelings.

For example, an assertive communication policy could be: “I feel good about myself, and I accept and understand that others feel the same way about me.” An assertive response could be: “Your feelings about me are completely unfounded and problematic. I am flattered by your comments but I don’t need them and neither do you.” Of course, this last statement is a little unclear but the overall thrust is that you feel good about yourself and so I want you to feel good about me.

What’s more, when you are using assertive communication, you are not likely to give anyone any more attention than is absolutely necessary. You will use language like “You annoy me” and other forms of dismissals, which will have your colleagues shaking their heads in mild amusement – because it confirms your point and makes them wonder what on earth you are trying to say. They will begin to feel threatened and think that they have done something wrong. They will in turn feel threatened by your assertive stance, and that in itself can prompt them into either doing something to correct the behaviour or backing down, thus undermining your position and making them feel secure again.

It must be clear that the use of such a reaction could get you dismissed. So, when using assertive communication techniques it is important not to use such damaging language and responses. It is also essential to demonstrate leadership skills and how you can handle difficult situations. If you do this and show others that you can be a leader who command respect and following instructions, then they will want to work with you, and want to work with you to achieve certain things. This could well help increase your self-esteem and your self-confidence.