By: Julie Sekachev, M.Ed, LPC Associate
Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
Would you like to know how to be more assertive? Do you struggle to say what you mean to others? Do you struggle to make decisions and find yourself saying “yes” when you want to say “no?” Maybe you find yourself putting your needs and wants last to
avoid conflict, but later find yourself overwhelmed, resentful, and stressed. If you identify with any of these
examples, you may have a passive communication style that is not serving you in getting your needs met. This blog will look at five ways to increase your assertive communication skills and meet your needs!
What is Assertive Communication?
An assertive communication style means that you are direct and respectful when you communicate with others. Your tone of voice is firm but not aggressive. You speak your needs clearly and maintain eye contact. You take the needs of yourself and others when speaking and expressing your needs.
For example, let’s say that your co-worker expects you to do her part of a team project at work. You find yourself saying yes to avoid conflict but end up missing time with your family and your spouse due to
picking up her slack after work. Later, you find yourself burned out, exhausted, missing your family, and feeling restful towards your co-worker.
Here you state your needs clearly and offer a team to help if your friend needs it. If you were to practice assertive communication, you could say, “unfortunately, I cannot take any more time on helping you with your part of the project. If you have any questions or need any help, we could set up a team meeting to discuss it together.”
Benefits of being more assertive:
- Being assertive can help you build self-esteem because communicating enables you to advocate for your needs.
- You will earn the respect of others and increase your self-confidence and self-respect when you learn how to express your wants, thoughts, and feelings.
- Others will begin to learn where your boundaries are, and you will have more time for self-care or do things you enjoy.
How to be More Assertive:
Rehearse your message:
When you have a specific request from others, break down what you want to say first. You can brainstorm your needs and then state your needs or desires out loud. You can role-play with your therapist or friend and ask for feedback.
Practice speaking your wants and needs with “I statements:”
This style of communication will help you sound less accusatory and more respectful. For example, you can say, “I would like your help with this project,” instead of “you need to do this.”
Practice saying no:
If you find yourself saying yes to requests and then blaming yourself or canceling plans after agreeing when you did not want to, you may need to practice saying no. Some ways to say no can be “no, I cannot do that right now,” or “no, I have another commitment.” No need to apologize or give a detailed explanation.
Keep it brief and to the point. Remember why you are declining in the first place. If you are at capacity
with engagements, you are doing yourself a service to not take any more things on. Or, if you want to be polite, you can offer a different activity or different time. If you do not want to spend time with this person or people, reconsider your relationship.
Practice Active Listening:
Assertive communication is not only about how you communicate with others, but it is also about how you receive the messages that are communicated to you. Active listening is listening without interruption, listening for the meaning behind another person’s message. After you hear the news, summarize and paraphrase the message back to ensure a clear understanding.
Practice your assertive skills in situations that require you to take small risks first—maybe letting a barista know if your order was wrong or ask your friend not to call you after 9 PM. Later, once you start to build your confidence, you can challenge yourself to speak up more at work or ask your boss for a raise.
Remember that learning assertive communication takes time. Just as with any social skill, the more you practice, the better and more natural you will become.
Build trust with your partner with help from the Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch in Katy, TX.
If you would like to talk more about improving your communication skills, one of the therapists at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch can help!
We provide couple’s counseling, as well as other mental health services. To begin
couples counseling in Katy, TX, follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to learn more about how to increase assertive communication
- Meet with one of our knowledgeable therapists
- Find new ways to become your most authentic you!
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!