Being able to communicate and manage in an assertive manner is a skill that takes practice and confidence.
Here are some tips for your behaviour, that will automatically see you being perceived by others as a more assertive communicator. These tips will help you feel more confident and will support your resolve to continue to practice being an assertive communicator.
Think of these tips like getting dressed in a suit or fashionable, tailored outfit before going out. If you regularly ‘dress’ yourself in them, you will, with each attempt, more easily step up into an assertive persona until that persona naturally becomes part of who you are.
- Make and maintain eye contact with occasional glances in other directions so that your gaze is not misconstrued as a glare. Eye contact demonstrates genuine interest and shows sincerity.
- Body language does matter! A body posture that is congruent with the intent and content of your message is paramount. If you and your counterpart are standing to talk, stand straight and tall. If your colleague is sitting down, sit down next to them. Don’t slouch in the chair but sit with your back against the back of the chair. Use soft, slow, rounded arm movements if you ‘talk with your hands’ and keep your head out of your hands.
- Controlling your emotions to suit the situation is an important skill in showing you are in control and being assertive. Express empathy with the situation (e.g. show happiness or be more solemn for a sad situation). Usually talking with neutral emotion showing in your voice, facial expressions and body language is a safe way to express yourself especially if you think you may get flustered or angry.
- Keep a well modulated and even tone of voice. This tone of voice is not intimidating and again shows your ability to remain calm.
- Allowing the other person to speak while you listen is a sign of assertive behaviour. Someone who wishes to do all the talking or rushes in to fill in the silent space is more likely to be displaying aggressive types of behaviour.
- Assertive communication means you are prepared to open up points for discussion and not close them down prematurely. If you’re not sure how to do this or you are not sure what to say in response to the other person’s comment, always ask an appropriate question.