Assertive communication is the ability to express positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open, honest and direct way. It recognizes our rights while still respecting the rights of others. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people and it allows us to constructively confront and find a mutually satisfying solution where conflict may exist.

Assertive communication enables us to swap old behavior patterns for amore positive approach to life. There are many advantages of assertive communication which include:

  • It helps us feel good about ourselves and others
  • It leads to the development of mutual respect with others
  • It increases our self-esteem
  • It helps us achieve our goals
  • It minimizes hurting and alienating other people
  • It reduces anxiety
  • It protects us from being taken advantage of by others
  • It enables us to make decisions and free choices in life
  • It enables us to express, both verbally and non-verbally, a wide-range of feelings and thoughts, both positive and negative

The six main characteristics of assertive communication include:

  • Eye contact – this demonstrates interest
  • Body posture – congruent body language will improve the significance of the message
  • Gestures – appropriate gestures help to add emphasis
  • Voice – a level, well modulated tone is more convincing and acceptable, and is not intimidating
  • Timing – use your judgment to maximize receptivity and impact
  • Content – how, where and when you choose to comment is probably more important that what you say

Part of being assertive involves the ability to appropriately express your needs and feelings. This is accomplished through the use of “I” statements. These statements indicate ownership, do not attribute blame, focuses on behavior, identifies the effect of behavior, is direct and honest, and contributes to the growth of your relationship with others. 

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