Reduce distress in relationships by communicating with confidence
Assertiveness: The only strategy that allows us and others to be fully and authentically engaged in a relationship
Have you taken the time to read the other blog posts in this series?
I’ll wait… 😉
Doing a quick survey of these other communication styles: passive, passive aggressive and aggressive, none are satisfying and they all impose some pretty negative vibes onto our relationships. Have another look at them… they all have some common themes: lack of openness, honesty or respect. Respect for other people OR for yourself.
Introducing assertiveness, this is our all time favourite skill to coach clients towards at our clinic!
Assertiveness does not mean getting your own way, rather, you are deciding to take charge of your own behaviour, jumping into the driver seat of your choices. On the flip side, assertiveness also recognizes that others are responsible for their own behavior and does NOT try to take control, such as trying to predict others reactions or molding others responses to match our needs.
When we are assertive, we can express our thoughts, needs and preferences honestly, without the expectation that others will AUTOMATICALLY give in to us. We can express respect for others opinions without the need to adopt those opinions as our own.
What makes assertiveness so friggin’ amazing?
The more assertive we become, the less conflict, anxiety and resentment we experience in relationships.
The more assertive we become, the more we are able to increase our self confidence and reduce the need for approval.
The more assertive we become, the more we increase our sense of personal agency over our own lives and reduce feelings of helplessness and even depression.
Take a moment, and take this in.
When we practice assertiveness, we are practicing trusting ourselves, which inevitably grows our confidence. We are saying to ourselves, that we have our own back, that we have something valid to say and are worth expressing it. We exhibit the right amount of vulnerability with those around us, so that they get to know us for the real US. Assertiveness is the only strategy that allows us and others to be fully and authentically engaged in a relationship.
Assertiveness Hack: Here are some of the ways that you can start (or continue!) to align yourself with assertiveness:
- Express needs, feelings and ideas directly and honestly. While this may seem simple, it is hard to do this when we first start. We will not get those same feel good feelings when someone “magically” reads our minds and gives us what we want when we didn’t have to ask for. It may even feel uncomfortable when you start aligning yourself with assertiveness. Try to expand this window of tolerance by simply counting a few breaths after expressing yourself, and wait for a response before adding more.
- Correct for the rigid thinking trap. If you find yourself thinking about a situation as black and white, you have fallen into a trap and you need to correct for it. When rigid thinking is present, you are not being assertive. Hold ideas loosely, don’t assume that you are always right and that others will agree with you. Allow others to hold their own perspective without discounting or dismissing them.
- Do not be attached to an outcome: When we communicate assertively and with confidence, we let go of what we WANT to hear and become open to what is. Confidence is gained by taking ownership of ourselves and accepting that we cannot have this ownership over others, letting go of getting stuck on what other people are thinking and feeling. We continue to gain confidence knowing that we have communicated our thoughts, needs and desires congruently with our core selves to those around us.
As mentioned in our other blogs, it is so important to remember that there is no immediate switchover into assertiveness. It takes time, work and effort that needs to be complemented with self-compassion, or else we will revert back to our old comfortable patterns.
If you or your relationship needs support, don’t hesitate to reach out!