Communicating Assertively by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

In Coaches
Nov 3rd, 2013
Women talkingThe difference between aggressive, passive, and assertive communication has to do with intent.
  • Aggressive communicators intend to conquer and to get their way.
  • Passive communicators intend to avoid conflict no matter what.
  • Assertive communicators intend to convey their thoughts in a respectful manner and to listen to others’ thoughts as part of the communication.
No one is born being an assertive communicator. You learn it either from your environment or through study and practice. Here are ten keys for being more productive by being an assertive communicator.
  1. Pay attention to someone who is clearly an assertive communicator. Observe and listen to what this person does.
  2. Remember that communication comes largely through nonverbal means. When possible, take note of the body language used by someone who is assertive (i.e., the person who is attempting to communicate his/her thoughts, wishes, ideas in a respectful manner, while listening to the other person’s response and ideas, too).
  3. Take note of (and maybe take notes on) what assertive people do as far as verbal tone, phrasing, and word choice.
  4. As you prepare to communicate in an assertive manner, think about what you are going to say before the actual interaction. It isn’t silly to practice aloud – several times – when it is an important conversation (and why have a conversation if it’s not important?).
  5. Be clear on what it is you want when you are communicating assertively.
  6. State exactly what you want to accomplish through your assertive conversation.
  7. Listen to what the other person has to say.
  8. Keep the goal of assertive communication in mind, i.e., respect, maintaining the relationship, “win-win” outcome, as you prepare your comments as well as when the conversation is occuring. Intent, intent, intent.
  9. If your assertive communication didn’t work out the way you’d planned, analyze what happened and improve on your future interactions.
  10. Learn what assertiveness is and what it isn’t. A few suggestions follow, and although these are “older” texts, they still have valuable information in them:

McClure, Judith Selee (2007). Civilized Assertiveness for Women: Communication with Backbone…Not Bite, Albion Street Press.

Paterson, Randy J. (2000). The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships, New Harbinger Publications.

Alberti, Robert E. (2001). Your Perfect Right. IMPACT.

Smith, Manual J. (1985). When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. Bantam.

For the vast majority of us, knowing how to communicate assertively is a lifelong pursuit. It’s worth the effort.

gap_guide_deliberately_designing_your_professional_presence_perspective_newFor more suggestions related to designing your professional presence for success, you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence, which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series. The Get a Plan! Guide® series will give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion – so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.