What is Assertive Communication?

There are four main types of communication and you’ve probably heard of them – aggressive, passive, passive aggressive and assertive. Assertive communication is about being able to express your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions in a way that is authentic to you but doesn’t violate the rights of others. Not being assertive can lead to low self esteem because you don’t communicate what you really think or feel and it may mean that you are looking after people’s needs or wants rather than your own. Sometimes our patterns of communication come from how we were taught to communicate in our family of origin.

When you communicate assertively your posture and voice are as important as what you say. You speak clearly and firmly with a steady pace and warm tone. Your posture is firm but relaxed (ie not hunched forward) and you make eye contact without staring. There are a lot of different assertive communication techniques. You’ve probably heard of an “I” statement. This is where you describe a situation, the impact on you and your feelings and then what you’d like, all without blame or attacking the other person. For example, “when you come home late without letting me know, I worry that something is wrong, I would appreciate you calling me and telling me you’ll be late”. We discuss and practice assertive communication during the My Life My Dreams program https://highlandscommunity.org.au/my-life-my-dreams/.

A fantastic resource for developing assertive communication skills is https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Assertiveness.

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