• Steve Daily

ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS - The Seventh Effective Living Skill Set ~ Blog 18

Why Are Assertive Communication Skills Important?

Assertive communication skills are important to help us stand up for our rights and get our wants and needs met. Aggressiveness often leads to more conflict with others. Passivity frequently results in feelings of resentment and may even contribute to depression. It also makes it more likely that others will take advantage of us. Assertiveness is being direct and honest in a respectful and responsible manner.

EFFECTIVELY SAY NO: It is time to stop saying yes when you want to say no. Here are three simple things you can do to develop the skill of effectively saying no.

1) When someone makes a request that causes you to feel uneasy, take a slow, deep breath and prepare yourself to respond skillfully.

2) Give yourself time to think by saying, “I will need to think about this and I will get back with you latter today (or at what you consider to be a reasonable time). If the person pressures you, then say, “If I have to decide now, I will have to say no.”

3) Do a pros and cons analysis by dividing a sheet of paper into two columns. At the top of one column write Advantages of Saying No and at the top of the second column write Advantages of Saying Yes. Take your time to think out the advantages and disadvantages before reaching a decision. Decide and tell the person your decision in a respectful manner and avoid apologizing.

CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILL: There are four steps in conflict resolution that I have found to be extremely helpful in communicating a request to another person in an effective manner.

1) Describe the problem or situation factually without blame. Example: When you make an appointment to meet up with me and don’t show or call me

2) State how you honestly feel and the reason you feel that way. Example cont.: I feel frustrated and hurt and think you aren’t treating me with respect or don’t care.

3) Clearly make your request by stating what you want. Example cont.: If you make plans to do something with me, follow through or call me if you can’t make it.

4) Give the other person a reason to meet your request. Example cont.: I value our friendship and want to do things with you in the future. If you will do this, I will feel respected and I will want to continue our friendship.

DISARMING SKILL: There are times that we need to skillfully communicate with difficult people that are not going to change their ways. Getting mad and arguing with them is ineffective, and bending over backwards to avoid conflict leaves us feeling angry or resentful. The first step in using the disarming skill is to understand we cannot change others and it is helpful to be respectful of them. The second step is to simply find something they say with which we can agree.

Example: Lilly’s mother is constantly nagging her to lose weight. When her mother tells her that she’ll pay for her to go to Weight Watchers, Lilly tactfully says, “Thank you for caring about my health, and I will think about your offer. Where do you want me to take you to go shopping today?”

Example: Mike’s brother is constantly talking about politics and his view are very different than his own. When the brother praises the current governor that Mike dislikes, he says, “I do like the stand he took on tax breaks for businesses coming to the state.” He then changes the subject.

The disarming technique can be useful in specific situations where others are overly controlling.

How to Access the Self-Study

This is the seventh blog related to the Effective Living Skills Self-Study. Each self-study skill set has a study sheet and a worksheet that you can access by going to the Self Study section at the top of the home page. Just click on the related PDF and you can print or download the study material. You can also print a certificate of completion with you name after completing each of the ten skill sets.

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