Have you ever felt as though you know exactly what it is that you want to achieve and how to go about doing it, but you fall short when it comes to explaining your plans to others?
Or do you feel like you can talk the talk but, underneath all the confident speeches, you’re not at all sure about what you should be doing with yourself?
You’re not alone. It’s a common disconnect between how we feel and how we communicate, and one that can hold us back – both at work and at home. Because, in order to have any sort of social success rate, assertiveness and assertiveness communication need to happen simultaneously.
So, why bother trying to communicate more assertively? What real-life benefits can it actually have? Well, the overarching answer is that, without assertive communication, we can’t get a lot done.
And here are a few other benefits.
It’s common knowledge that employers favor those who act assertively in the workplace. But what you might not know is that there are all kinds of subtleties that differentiate assertiveness from aggression – which is most certainly not a desirable trait.
There’s also passive behavior, which can make us appear weak and indecisive in the eyes of our peers. So it’s up to how we communicate, express our behavior, and set ourselves apart in a competitive working environment.
Assertively communication strikes the perfect balance between strong-mindedness and empathy toward others, meaning we’re seen as likable yet confident. A perfect candidate for progression within a business.
Yes, really. Assertively communication has the power to make us more likable. It’s to do with the empathy we’ve just highlighted. Where aggressive types are all about ‘me’, and passive types are all about ‘you’; assertive people are 100% focused on ‘we’.
And that is extremely endearing to others.
This applies to both work-based and personal connections.
Likeability – naturally – has the power to help us form relationships of all kinds. More than this though, communicating assertively can actually help us develop and cement our relationships; turning mere acquaintances into mutually respectful bonds. Assertive communication has active listening at its core.
And when we really learn to listen to those around us, we’re able to empathize with their viewpoint better, overcome obstacles in a way that respects everyone’s agenda, and learn from our past mistakes. This makes for longer-lasting bonds.
Part and parcel of building better relationships and getting more opportunities at work are that we start to develop more confidence in ourselves.
This then has a knock-on effect of reinforcing our assertive behavior, in much the same way that passive behavior breeds a lack of self-confidence which, in turn, leads to a cycle of further passive behavior. When we’re thinking and saying all the right things, in any social situation, we’ll reap the rewards of having others react positively to us.
One of the less-thought-of side effects of assertive communication is a reduction in the amount of stress we feel.
And who wouldn’t want less of that?
If we think about it, the root of much of our stress is a feeling of being under pressure. This is true both in the workplace and in our home lives.
Through communicating more assertively, in both scenarios, we set out clear personal boundaries, generate mutual respect, and achieve greater results in the things we set our minds to. This has a significant offloading effect, giving us a bit more headspace and, ultimately, impacting our mood and ability to cope with daily stressors.
Part of developing mutual respect and strengthening bonds with peers, friends, and relatives, is that we get better at negotiating tricky situations with them.
Assertive communication involves careful listening and empathy, which means that we’re better able to work through problems in a way that yields positive results for everyone concerned. We’re not only thinking about ourselves but what’s best for all parties.
And this means we’re more likely to have our opinion taken seriously in future ‘negotiations’.
This ties in with point six. Making those around us feel valued means that they’re far more likely to listen to, and even follow, us.
Aggressive types employ bullying tactics that, while potentially effective at the moment, are unlikely to gain them friends and followers in future scenarios. And passive behavior often renders us unable to formulate, let alone communicate, our ideas and boundaries to others.
So we’re hardly going to become a great leader by keeping quiet. When we become assertive communicators we demonstrate that we’re in control but, perhaps even more importantly, that we’re not going to walk all over others to achieve our goals.
The best way to counteract passiveness – the behavior most commonly associated with being a ‘pushover’ – is with assertiveness.
Assertive communication is, in large part, about establishing others’ expectations of us, by setting out clear boundaries. But it’s also about learning how to disagree with others in a productive way, which neither passivity nor aggression can really achieve.
This is a nice by-product of lower stress levels. It’s also linked with better time management – brought about through developing our assertive behaviors. It’s a bit of a no-brainer really.
When we’re able to get more done and lighten our load, we spend less time flapping about the tasks we have to juggle, less time lying awake at night worrying, and more time indulging in the things we enjoy. Having more focus and mental clarity has an incredibly positive effect on the energy-sapping properties of procrastination and irritation.
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