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Note 3: Exploring assertiveness

Hello, and welcome to note 3 of 12. In the previous note, we covered three styles of communication. Today we will look at a fourth.

The problem with the three styles in note 2 is that none of them involve an open and honest exchange in which everyone’s wishes and desires are respected. The assertive style recognises that other people are in charge of their own behaviours and does not try to take control of them.

When someone is assertive they:

  • Express their thoughts, ideas and feelings to others
  • Can request that people speak to them in a kinder way
  • Realise and accept that whatever people do is up to them
  • Are honest about their wants and needs
  • Don't assume that others are correct or that everybody will feel the same way as they do
  • Allow others to hold their views without dismissing or insulting them

Some of the benefits of being assertive include:

  • it allows you to relate to others with less conflict
  • it helps you to be less anxious by allowing you to stop the build-up of negative emotions
  • it contributes to increasing self-confidence by reducing our attempts to live up to the standards of others
  • it is the only strategy that really allows us and others to express honestly and effectively what we want and need

Here are some examples of assertive behaviour:

  • Using “I feel/want/need...” statements instead of using blame or insults towards the other person
  • Stating what the problem is instead of assuming that others know what they think, feel or need
  • Saying “No” to things they don’t want to do or are unable to commit to. It is up to them if they want to provide a reason to the other person or not, so that it helps them understand, but a justification isn’t needed.

Remember: Assertive communication is about an open and honest exchange. Not everyone will be able to offer you that. It also takes time to develop this style of communication.

Action: From the last week, can you think of one example where you could have been assertive and describe how you could have approached it differently i.e. by doing or saying something different.

In the next note we’ll explore how stress can affect communication.

And don’t forget: You are valuable. You are powerful. You can do this!

Your friends at Soul Medicine

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