Assertive communication: Guide with examples of assertiveness

Assertive communication is at an intermediate point between aggressive and passive communication. It allows us to present our arguments without judging or attacking the recipient of the message or their own convictions. Assertiveness being an essential ability to negotiate and avoid any kind of conflict.

How to use assertive communication?

To be more assertive, it is important to understand all the concepts that comprise its definition. Therefore, we will later define their opposite poles, since assertive communication is not always the best solution. We will often stand on a scale in which assertive communication will be the central pillar on which we will dance between aggressiveness and passivity as intelligently as possible.

Characteristics of assertive communication

  • It allows us to offer and defend our interests, opinions and beliefs.
  • It is fair and avoids attacking or judging others.
  • Understands that there are no absolute truths and values the opinions of others despite defending one’s own.
  • It allows us to make ourselves respected without attacking others or raising our voices.
  • Assertive communication reflects intelligence, understanding of human psychology and high self-esteem. Assertiveness is part of the essential traits of an attractive personality.
  • It is more persuasive by making it easier for us to convince and understand others.
  • It manages to calm emotions derived from anger and resentment thanks to the fact that it allows us to show ourselves serene.
  • He bets on win-win, or at least that is his objective on paper. Sometimes it is even more affective to win even though the other loses. Especially when it is discussed in front of other people or in the political arena. The one who loses assertiveness is usually perceived as more insecure or out of control.
  • When speaking with assertiveness we tend to make more use of emotional communication, using feelings to make the message more impactful and easy to understand.
  • Assertiveness helps us to communicate with empathy, these two skills being essential for each other.
  • It points out and proposes solutions avoiding criticizing contemptuously.
  • Look at the good side of things and then provide solutions for improvement and motivate their persecution.
  • She is polite, asking for things please and giving thanks.

Examples of assertive communication

How to give advice to a worker

—Hi John, can I talk to you for a second? I have noticed that you treat your clients very well and they value your advice very positively. However, sometimes I see a client arrive and instead of taking care of him and going to see if he needs something, you keep doing other things. Sometimes I have seen them looking to see if they saw you and it seemed that you did not realize.

—Well, if I get too close to them they can get overwhelmed or they end up saying no, they’re just looking and I don’t want to be heavy either.

—I understand you perfectly. Sometimes it’s hard to balance and know when they want help and when they want it. I have a trick for that. While doing other things, keep an eye on them. If you see them looking at you like they’re looking for you or they gesture to you that they need help, you just walk up to them and ask them. With a bit of practice and how good a salesman you are, you’ll surely get the hang of it and increase your sales, your commissions and your chances of promotion.

How to propose a trip

—Honey, I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse. What do you say we look for a week this holiday and go on a cruise?

—Poof, I don’t know… Right now I’m overwhelmed with work. I don’t feel like doing anything.

—I understand. The same thing happens to me. That’s why I thought it would be good for us to disconnect from everything. Charge your batteries and enjoy a worry-free week. I think we both deserve it. And even if at the beginning it’s hard to get out of the monotony, I’m sure we’re going to have a great time later.

—Yes, you’re right but I don’t know…

—You leave it to me. I assure you, you won’t regret it. I’ll take care of it. I have my weapons! -end up saying playful and sexy to finish convincing him.

Sneaking into the supermarket queue

—Excuse me, I’m sure you didn’t notice, but I was going ahead. If you don’t mind if I come first?
—Of course, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you!
—Don’t worry, sometimes it has happened to me (he ends up answering with a smile and good humor).

Persuade to move forward and overcome difficulties

—You’re a very nice boy, but I want you to know that tonight we’re not going to do anything. I just got out of a relationship and I still don’t feel sure I’m starting anything with anyone.

—Don’t worry. I understand that you should be cautious and that you don’t feel safe yet. For me the most important thing in my life is to enjoy myself now, and I’m sure that’s partly why you’ve intuited that right now I’d love us to be much closer together,” he jokes in his closing argument. Without a table between us and with much more intimacy. But that doesn’t mean I’m not having a great time. Come on, I don’t regret coming here at all.

—Yeah, well, I just had to tell you – she mumbles something insecure.

—And I’m glad you told me. I’ve also been through ruptures and the truth is that it’s not the nicest thing in the world. Sometimes it’s hard to get over it. Anyway, for me there came a moment when I thought: hey, that’s enough. The past is past and that doesn’t have to condition my freedom. I’m going to get my life back. I decided to open up to other people and since then, I’m much happier and I’ve lost the fear that a future relationship could go wrong again. For me, life is an adventure that we should never close ourselves to.

—The truth is that you are not wrong. Maybe I am living more in closed doors of the past than opening my eyes to new experiences. I like the way you see things.

4 Characteristics of an Assertive Personality

With recent examples, let us now see what traits form an assertive personality:

  • Observation, acceptance and understanding: Assertive people use empathy to observe details from the point of view of the people they relate to. This allows them to understand the needs of others. This, in turn, gives them information to execute a more persuasive assertive communication.
  • High self-esteem and pride control: Faced with a loving rejection, such as the example of the quote, an assertive personality does not become nervous. He relies on his abilities and his own attractiveness to resolve rejection situations and achieve his goals. At the same time, it does not jump to defend its pride provoking battles of egos. His main concern is the end result. Your pride, achieve your goals in communication.
  • Management of own and other people’s emotions: An assertive personality knows how to use humour to lower tension, ask forgiveness when things get ugly, show understanding when the other person expects a bad reaction, or even motivate when everything seems lost. Making great use of emotional intelligence to manage emotions as it suits you, both yours and those of others.
  • Generate positive emotions: Both for himself and with others, bet on using seduction. It uses praise, makes others feel good and facilitates interpersonal communications by creating a good atmosphere.

Aggressive communication

Aggressive communication, whether consciously or unconsciously, tends to judge critically and negatively the actions of others, or to err on the side of being too authoritarian. In turn, it is often accompanied by a high tone of voice and a non-verbal language too firm or even threatening. Insults are also part of this communication.

Is it therefore advisable never to communicate aggressively? Unfortunately, the truth is that it is not.

Assertive communication is the cornerstone of correct communication, but it does not always work. In the face of certain types of people and contexts, imposing a certain degree of authority and firmness is sometimes essential. Above all, maintaining education at the same time as exercising authority, usually exercised by educators and team leaders or leaders when being assertive does not work as it should.

Examples of aggressive communication

Cluttered room

—Son, I’ve told you a thousand times to order your room! You’ve got me up to my ears. The next time I go upstairs and see this like this, you go a week without stepping on the doorway of the house. Let’s see if you’ll listen to me with punishments.
—And I’m sick of you coming into my room screaming like crazy. Now mimos I was going to order it but of course I lose the desire. Let’s see if you relax someday!

Sneaking into the supermarket queue

—I’m sorry, but what a nose you have. You saw that I was in front of you and you gave exactly the same. What a face!
—What a jeta? I’m sorry, but if I snuck in I didn’t notice. Let’s see if we’re a little more polite. As far as I know, I was before you.

New employee in the office

—Daniel, I don’t know how you worked in your previous company, but this report sucks. Before I go I want you to fix it or else we’re going to have a problem you and me.
—Okay, I’ll check it right now.

When his boss leaves the employee is left thinking: What an asshole, he’ll ask me some favor already. Then I’m going to be the one who’s going to send him to hell.

Keys to aggressive communication

You don’t have to be Miguel Angel Buonarroti to realize that when we attack someone, we get a defense in response.

In the untidy room, the son is infected by his mother’s aggressive communication and responds by judging precisely his lack of assertiveness. He also judges her absence of relaxation and makes her look like a madwoman.

Emotions are contagious, if you talk with high-pitched nerves it is normal for the receiver to answer the same even if they do not want to.

In the supermarket queue, despite having to lie in the event that if you have noticed, we again get a defense. In addition to insults for lack of assertiveness (see if we are more educated). Without having the absolute truth that he has snuck in, it is more efficient to talk to him assuming he hasn’t noticed even if we don’t believe it.

As for the new employee, the boss exercises an improper level of authority and contempt for someone who is adapting to a new job. However, he is the boss and unless he wants to risk losing his job, the employee acts passively. Apparently so. Mentally, he begins to despise his new boss, which may also affect his productivity and involvement in his job. He holds a grudge against him and his defense is postponed.

Disadvantages of aggressive communication

  • It can make us feel bad about ourselves: When we attack someone, even if they don’t defend themselves or we are victorious, we are feeding our anger. We may even feel guilt because of the remorse of making someone else feel bad.
  • Make the other person feel bad: They may feel weak, lack self-esteem, feel anxiety, frustration, discouragement, etc. Aggressive communication generates confrontations and any battle wears both sides.
  • It generates power struggles and revenge: The one who is employed today, tomorrow can be promoted above his superior or speak ill of him to those who are above him. Revenge can always arise. How we treat others today will materialize in the treatment we receive in an uncertain future. Never feel untouchable or superior and always treat everyone with respect. These are all advantages!

Using authority and aggressiveness when assertiveness doesn’t work

  • If we have told our child to assertively tidy the room many times and there is no way he can do it, using authority may be the solution. All life there have been punishments and many times they have been useful. Of course, every case is a world. The same thing happens in the workplace. It is very difficult to be a boss because often despite trying to be assertive, when employees do not perform efficiently no matter how hard they try to communicate with assertiveness, again imposing authority is necessary.
  • On the other hand, aggressiveness will always be more justified when we have tried to be assertive several times before. Others will be able to empathize more with us and understand that we are aggressive if they end up seeing that they were not right and before we were assertive but they ignored us.

Passive Communication

Passive communication is what avoids confrontation despite the fact that for that reason we have to put aside our own interests and rights.

In the previous examples we have seen the case of the employee who answered with passive communication. In the example of the supermarket queue, not telling him anything and letting him get in would be another example of passive communication. And in the case of the messy room, more of the same. The mother would have kept quiet and kept her discontent to herself.

The worst thing about this type of communication is that it tends to fuel repression and resentment.

Let’s imagine they treat us aggressively for a while and let it pass. We don’t try to talk to the other person to make them talk to us assertively, but we just hold on and hold on. What do you think will happen in the end? Well, if you’re a normal human being from the planet earth, it’s normal that when the glass is already overflowing, you end up exploding. As my mother says… losing the trachea. So that is a problem, because when human beings lose their nerves they are capable of doing horrible things.

If your goal is to be more assertive, passive communication will rarely interest you. But beware, because there are times when it is also useful.

Examples of passive communication

An aggressive drug addict in the disco

—Eeehhh man, were you looking at my girlfriend? Eehhhh Ehhh. Asshole!

The other guy realizes that if he doesn’t answer and passes by this guy won’t chase him. Therefore, he chooses to avoid a confrontation that would bring him absolutely nothing positive and many possible negative repercussions.

The boss has a bad day

—You have to go faster! A lot of work is piling up. It’s all fucked up. Today nobody goes home until we’re done. Always everything for the last moment. What a bunch of pigeon peas!

—Don’t worry, Antonio, we’ll all stay here until the hour we need to. We’re going to squeeze hard, for sure we’ll have time. We’ll all get through this.

The employees see that the boss is losing his nerves and forms due to stress and they show empathy. They remain calm and one acts as a spokesperson encouraging the group. This would be a passive-assertive response.

I want to go to the cinema

—I want to go to the cinema this weekend. I’m sick and tired of us always staying at home. You never want to do anything!
—If my wife wants to go to the movies, let’s go to the movies. What movie do you want to see?

Usefulness of passive communication

In the case of the drug addict, you’ll be with me when it’s not worth answering. Being assertive in such a case wouldn’t work either. The other person is full of anger and is just looking for a fight. Being passive here is the best solution, because we avoid putting our physical integrity at risk for nothing. That guy doesn’t deserve our attention.

In the case of the boss with a bad day, probably after the positive and empathetic response of the employees, the boss realizes that he has not acted well. He will probably feel bad later because he has lost form and values the understanding and reaction of his team. That guilt may lead you to reward them in the future or apologize. However, even assertively defending ourselves at that moment when the boss is upset can mean a greater waste of time for him, which will lead him to become more frustrated and more nervous. In any case, we could talk assertively with him in the future to try to prevent this disrespectful situation from happening again.

As far as cinema is concerned, let’s imagine that the husband doesn’t care exactly about going to the cinema or the space shuttle Discovery. Come on, he doesn’t care. Or almost everything. Maybe she has a preference for staying home or going to dinner, or doing something else. But the interest in other plans is so minimal, that he directly does what his wife asks and saves himself from discussing.

Why it is not profitable in the long term

Passive communication, although useful at specific times, may not be profitable in the long term:

  • We plant the seeds of submission. An attitude with which we can end up being slaves and followers of others by renouncing our own opinions and interests.
  • Although it avoids confrontation, it does not provide solutions to problems. Present problems are solved by talking. Negotiating so that they do not happen again in the future. If we are passive, we are being especially selfish, because we are not helping the other person to improve or to see their defects. We are not betting on fixing things, but we leave them always spoiled.
  • As I said previously, it generates resentment and frustration if we keep everything that bothers us without reacting to it. In the end, we may end up exploiting and spoiling something that could have been solved long before with assertive communication.
brave jungle

#wearebrave #alwaysbeatyourself

Every day we make a decision that is vital. A decision that marks the path of our dreams and how we feel during the hard journey that leads us to them. And it doesn’t matter if our aspirations are big or small. We may just want to live a quiet life. Our dream may be as simple as being happy with ourselves and ours. But this decision is just as crucial whatever our ambitions. The decision is how we communicate with the world and what we generate in it with our gestures and words. There is no more important one, for it starts with ourselves.

David Jungle

Apasionado de la psicología, la poesía y la moda, David Jungle es el fundador de la marca BRAVE JUNGLE. Siendo uno de sus diseñadores y el autor de la filosofía #wearebrave en la mayoría de sus artículos, poemas y relatos. Es Graduado en Marketing y Creativo en Diseño de Moda. Trabajando además como coach para otras empresas y habiendo publicado tres libros. ¿Su sueño? Crear una marca de moda ecológica y sostenible que promueva una filosofía de superación y belleza ante los retos de esa jungla social en la que vivimos.

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