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  • Christian Family Services

Guidelines for Assertive Communication

In order to learn how to use tools for assertive communication, we need awareness for who we are and what we need. Our roles and needs change in different seasons of life—requiring a reevaluation for our overall well-being and healthy contribution to the community around us. Do you have a healthy sense of self for the current season of life? In order to achieve success in communication with others around us, we need to know our goals and keep thoughtful guidelines throughout dialogue. With suitable time to investigate yourself and established tools that directly care for your needs, productive and healthy communication is possible.

Self-assured and effective interpersonal skills, allow needs to be well-communicated and full engagement to the community around you. Consider the following thoughts in conversation with others:

1. Decide on your priorities.

2. Ask for what you want in a way that does not damage the relationship.

3. Negotiate.

4. Obtain information.

5. Say no in a way that does not damage the relationship.

6. Act according to your values and morals.

Points such as these permit us to reflect on healthy habits and preserve conversation, or, alert us to unhealthy practices. Reflection about our dialogue with others, allows us to maintain healthy balance in conversation, and space for differing opinions to be shared respectfully. Additional tools and practice may be needed, or, finding a professional to guide us through specific needs outside of our current abilities.

For example, in the area of communicating needs without damaging the relationship, it is important to stick to the facts and uphold the goal of collaborative problem solving. Use nonjudgmental language and share ideas, based on the understanding that these are your opinions and feelings regarding the circumstances at hand; with the understanding others opinions and feelings are also valid. Clearly share what you want, and avoid passive aggressive tendencies. Ask yourself, if you’re sharing feelings respectfully and with the goal to compromise? Is your intent to communicate for improving the relationship? Are you listening to understand?

Mental health support is a growing need following the pandemic and allows opportunity for individuals to identify threats to safety, stability and ability to keep healthy relationships. Regardless of age or season in life, healthy communication is important to review and may need adjusting, in order to remain preventative and prohibit unhealthy habits. Seasonal reflection protects against negative outcomes and problem behaviors.

“I” statements are valuable tools for communicating feelings

(ie: I feel____when____) and needs (ie: I need _____because_____), with trusted people in our community. Effective communication about feelings and needs are necessary for healthy living, individually and collectively.

As you reflect and choose ways to share your thoughts, note the things that put your message in jeopardy. Harsh tone, sarcasm, contempt, criticism, defensiveness, stonewalling are dangerous components that bring conflict. Ponder changes, or toxic patterns, needed in your communication habits. Give yourself permission to explore and safeguard reasonable communication goals. Take advantage of professionals and/or support programs, to guarantee successful communication habits long term.

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