Being respectfully assertive is one of the essential life skills. It’s the ability to express our feelings, wants and opinions confidently without being rude or submissive.
Clear and polite communication is the key to happy inter-personal relationships.
If you are not good at expressive communication then you might resort to passive or aggressive communication style. Respectful assertiveness is the neutral ground between these 2 styles of communication.
Now, What is Passive communication– It is when you agree with everyone and put their needs before your own wishes. This is also called submissive behavior. It might prevent confrontation at the moment but can lead to stress and frustration later on.
What is Aggressive communication– If your communication style offends people but you still say and do as you please then you might be an aggressive communicator. Others may consider this behavior impolite and inconsiderate and even you might regret it later on.
The main reasons for not being able to communicate directly and politely might be low confidence, fear of judgement, need for approval or stress. The causes might be deep rooted but we can always work towards change and improvement.
Respectful communication under conflict or opposition is truly an awe-inspiring ability.Bryant Mcgill
The following tips will take time to show results but consistent practice will certainly help you in becoming an effective communicator.
Here are few tips to become respectfully assertive
Self-awareness and clarity
It becomes a lot easier to set boundaries and communicate efficiently if we are self-aware and clear about what we want.
We can convey our opinions in a straight forward manner only if we are sure of them.
Work on self-awareness by practicing simple mindfulness exercises, journaling or meditation. Self-awareness also make us less fearful of disapproval and judgment.
Knowing exactly what you want builds your self-confidence immeasurably.Brian Tracy
Start practicing with less stressful conversations
Switching from passive-aggressive to respectfully assertive might feel uncomfortable initially for you and for those around you. So start with small conversations with a pushy friend or a family member. Like what to watch on TV, where to eat or deny or when to go out for a getaway etc.
Plan and practice few responses in your mind
A co-worker or a friend might come up with an unreasonable request and if you might say yes because you don’t know how turn them down. Think of few phrases like ‘I have to check my schedule for that’ ‘I have plans with some one else’ ‘Would love to help but I can’t’.
Have trust( be positive)
Sometimes passive-aggressive communication stems from distrust in others. We fear people are not ready to hear us out, no matter how reasonable we are. But most of the times people are willing to understand if we communicate without offending them.
While conversing don’t blame or accuse others. Say ‘I don’t agree’ or ‘let’s do this differently’ instead of ‘you are wrong’ or ‘You don’t consider my feelings’. A positive outlook and a small shift in perspective make things a lot easier than they appear to be.
Have a confident body language
Communication is non-verbal too. Our posture signals how confident and sure we are. Do not slouch, have an upright yet relaxed posture. Maintain eye contact most of the time. A confident posture help you establish authority in a conversation.
80 percent of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words.Deborah Bull
If you are gearing up for an important conversation and need to address some bigger issues then seek help of someone you can trust. Rehearse the conversation with them. Ask for feedback and discuss how you feel.
Write down and be clear of the important points so that you can make valid arguments.
Have self-belief and know your worth
Both passive and aggressive responses stem from insecurity and low self worth. Know that you are valuable and important. No one is above or below you. Have the confidence to express yourself in a respectful and direct way.
Stand up for what’s reasonably right. This may cause temporary discomfort but will gradually make you happy and more confident.
Practice positive self-talk. Say to yourself ‘I can do this’, ‘My opinion matters’, ‘I am right and reasonable here’.
Deep breathe or take time off
If you find yourself stressing over setting a boundary or expressing an opinion, take a moment to inhale and exhale deeply. 3-4 deep breaths will calm you down, bring back your focus and help you stay cool.
Take time off from a conversation that stresses you and address it whenever you feel comfortable ( if that’s possible).
Of course its important to set boundaries and express our feelings but be mindful of when it’s not required. Choose when to speak wisely and listen to understand, not to reply. For example- some people have rigid opinions on religion or politics and you can’t change their mind so why get into unnecessary arguments! Sometimes silence is a wonderful answer and a powerful statement.
Do not apologize for your feelings
Some of us have a have a tendency to feel guilty for saying no to others. This is fake guilt i.e. if we haven’t done anything wrong or said anything offensive then there is no need to feel sorry. But we still do it to please others. Always be respectful and never hurt others but don’t say sorry for your desires and feelings.
- Being respectfully assertive is to value your own needs and feelings.
- Ineffective communication leads to resentment and regret.
- Work on building up self-confidence by understanding your worth.
- Have clarity on what you want and how you should be treated.
- Be mindful, speak when it’s required.
- Have a positive outlook and practice compassion. Don’t blame or accuse others.
- Seek help of loved ones or a professional if needed.
- Do not feel guilty of expressing yourself.