Assertive communication is a vital work skill. Assertive communicators state their feelings, needs, and desires while respecting those of bosses, coworkers, family and friends. By communicating assertively—openly, honestly, and confidently—they build trust, help resolve problems, and foster stronger relationships at work and at home.
Happily, you can learn to become an assertive communicator. Here are some ways assertive communicators stand up for themselves while not running roughshod over others.
Assertive communicators ask for what they need.
No one can read minds. If we don’t ask for what we want, others will never know what that is. Assertive communicators ask respectfully to get their needs met. If they need help to move forward, they ask for it. (“I need the latest marketing report to complete my project. Would you send it to me today?”)
Assertive communicators are not aggressive.
They don’t get angry over small issues, call people names, or put themselves ahead of everyone else. They know that these actions are recipes for disaster.
Assertive communicators use confident body language.
They sit up straight, look everyone in the eye, and leave their arms and legs open (not crossed in a defensive posture). They also contribute during meetings, asking questions and offering answers.
Assertive communicators speak up.
They trust their judgment, use “I” statements (“I’m too busy to help today, but I’d be happy to give you a hand tomorrow.”) They know how to politely say “no” while firmly explaining their reasons for doing so.
Assertive communicators accept compliments with grace.
They don’t put themselves down or minimize their accomplishments by saying things like, “It was nothing.” “Anyone could have done it.” or “Jackson really helped.” When someone gives them a compliment, they smile and thank the person complimenting them.
Assertive communicators ask non-threating questions.
For example: “How do you feel about Ashley’s idea?” “What aspect of the new project do you find problematic?” “Can we discuss my thoughts on your meeting plan?” They know it’s better to request clarification than to misunderstand what exactly is being asked of them.
Assertive communicators respectfully disagree.
They don’t become angry or lash out. They present facts and opinions about why they feel their team may be going down the wrong road. This helps everyone avoid potential pitfalls.