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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Schiebener

Powerful Questions Podcast: Are you being assertive?

Being assertive is considered to be the most effective communication style. If you adopt this style, you will be able to communicate in a way that protects your own interests, at the same time not repressing the interest of anyone else.

There are 4 communication styles overall. I am going to tell you about all of them. See if you recognize yourself somewhere. Most people tend to one of the communication styles, although in different relationships or different situations you might display different communication styles.

The basic difference between all of these communication styles is the balance of interest – how much priority is given to your interest, and how much priority you give to the interests of other people.

The fist style is the passive communication style. This is a style where your balance is tipped towards the interests of other people – if you tend to this communication style, you would tend to submit your interests and priorities to those of other people. It might be because you fail to communicate your feelings and needs effectively, or because you unconsciously consider your needs not as important as the needs of other people.

How to understand that this is your communication style?

  • If you talk little, if your voice is not very loud

  • If you find yourself unable to say no

  • If you frequently not voice your own needs or preferences, like if you are choosing a movie to go to with a couple of friends, you would say it doesn’t matter to you where you go – just to keep the peace.

This communication style might seem harmless because you are not hurting anyone else, after all. But who you are hurting by this is yourself. Frequenting this communication style might lead to you building up resentment towards others for not considering your needs.

The second communication style is the aggressive communication style. People with this communication style put their needs above the needs of others. They will tend to push through with their own opinion and preferences. They would tend to dominate others and get their own way by sometimes attacking, blaming of threatening other people.

How do you notice that you have this communication style? Sometimes it is quite challenging because it is hard for other people to give feedback to someone with aggressive communication style. But you might notice some signs, for example:

  • You are only focused on getting your interest through. You don’t ask other people what they want or seek a compromise solution.

  • Your voice is louder than that of other people.

  • People might avoid confronting you or seem very unsure and careful when they want to discuss a difficult topic with you.

This communication style might seem to be beneficial to you, because you get your way more often than not. But what happens in parallel, is that you push people away. Because this communication style is so unpleasant to others, people would try to avoid having any touchpoints with you. So, in the end, you will be driving them away. We all want to have our needs met, and we rarely stay in relationships where this is not the case.

There is another communication style that you most probably heard about, which is passive-aggressive. A person with a passive-aggressive communication style appears passive on a first sight, but the resentment built up over time will come out mostly in some hidden, secretive ways of communication. For example, rather than confronting someone, a passive-aggressive person would give them silent treatment. They might agree to your face but do the opposite behind your back.

Needless to say that this is a very unhealthy communication style that neither assures that your needs are met, nor helps you build good relationships with others.

Now the last, and fourth communication style is the healthiest one and also considered to be the most effective one. It is the assertive communication style. Being assertive is about balance: between your own needs and the needs of others.

Being assertive means, you are able to express your own needs, preferences and desires while also considering the needs of others and trying to balance both. This communication style is respectful to others, while also being respectful to yourself and your own needs.

So how to learn to use the assertive communication style? It might be different depending on what style you are tending to right now, but there are some common tips to become more assertive.

One of them is to use I-statements, like “It makes me frustrated when you are late” or “It is important to me to live in a tidy space”. This way you are expressing yourself without blaming the other person.

To be assertive, it is important to take time to listen to others, while also being able to clearly state what your needs or wants are. You have to be able to express what is important to you, but also sometimes to compromise to find a good way for all sides.

Assertiveness also means being able to say no. This means putting your needs first when it is important to you. It might be hard to make that kind of change and some people in your life might be unhappy with that. But remember, only the ones who were misusing your kindness regularly will be unhappy when you try to set boundaries.

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