By Ashley C. Dasianu, LMFT
Eagle Mountain Counseling Therapist
Everybody has individuals in their lives who they struggle to communicate effectively with. Whether it’s someone in your social, vocational, or family circle, it is normal to have personality conflicts with certain individuals. In such situations it is important to understand how to be assertive, so that communication does not deteriorate and leave both parties feeling frustrated.
There are four major communication styles: passive, passive-aggressive, assertive, and aggressive. Passive communicators are often times submissive, and put the needs and feelings of others before themselves. Passive-aggressive communicators struggle to communicate their needs, and tend to relay messages in indirect and hurtful ways. Assertive communicators are more comfortable advocating for their needs and show self-respect without disrespecting others. Aggressive communicators tend to put their own needs and feelings first, and are more disrespectful in their approach towards others. Clearly, assertive communication is the most effective style; however, it can be difficult to use when feeling triggered or overwhelmed by a situation or person. This is because people often fear that if they are assertive it will change the way individuals view them, or lead to an undesirable outcome.
Take a moment to consider which individuals in your life you struggle to communicate assertively with. Consider how that relationship might change if you were able to be assertive and show self-respect. If the change is a positive one, you might consider using the following strategies in your interactions with them: (1) visualize how you would like to communicate, (2) use “I feel” statements, (3) state your opinions clearly and respectfully, (4) listen actively, and (5) remember that you cannot control the reactions of others. Being assertive takes practice, but can greatly improve your interactions with others.
If you struggle to communicate assertively in your life, it may be worth sitting down with an expert. At eagle mountain counseling we can help you examine your fears, and develop strategies so that you can more effectively meet your needs.