Have you ever felt that you have trouble with expressing yourself in a team? Or even if you tell your needs to others you aren’t heard? That you can’t show the world who you really are? Then learning how to communicate assertively may help you make yourself heard in a team.
But what does it mean to be assertive?
Assertive communication is when you are expressing your rights, needs or thoughts while you consider and respect the other person’s rights and opinions. It is a communication style which helps you express yourself honestly and elegantly and respect others’ perpectives at the same time. Whether you want to speak up your disagreement with a situation or concept, ask for help or share positive or negative feelings.
Why is practicing assertive communication so important for you and your team?
Because communication is the key to understanding each other. This may sound too simple, but we all know how misunderstandings lead to unwanted and unnecessary conflicts, frustration, and the feeling of powerlessness in a team. Assertive communication can reduce interpersonal conflict because you do not only speak up for youself but you also consider the other person’s point of view. And it is more than what you say, as it is your way of being in a situation, your verbal and nonverbal qualities. Furthermore, it is your ablity to hold tension and to accomodate more power. It is different to aggressive communication, because it is respectful, promotes equality and reflects supportive behavior.
Furthermore when people feel you understand them and that you want them to also reach their goals, they are more likely to compromise. So with assertiveness you can achive a win-win situation where your needs are also understood and reached. The team benefits from the teams´ ability to reach its goals.
With this communication style you can also strengthen your relationships, reduce anxiety or depression and improve your self-image.
How can you enhance it and encourage others´s assertiveness?
Start by giving an example. Practice expressing your opinions without feeling guilty about them. You shouldn’t feel guilty about saying „no” to tasks that you don’t want to do or can’t do. Easier said than done for many, and yet it is already a starting point when you become aware of your emotions and work through them. Become skilled at listening to the other person’s point of view and be understanding. Describe your needs respectfully and don’t insult others.
3 tips how to communicate assertively in a team:
1. Instead of making judgements give factual descriptions.
Instead of: „How come you couldn’t do this job for the deadline? You’re way too slow. Incompetent.”
You can say: „The dealine for this job was the day before yesterday.”
2. Don’t exaggerate things, stay calm.
Instead of: „You ruined the whole plan.”
You can say: „Unfortunately now we have less time to talk because I have other plans after this.”
3. Use self-messages.
Like: „I would feel safer if there would be a plan we can follow.”
Or you can express how you feel about a certain behavior of others: „When you are late, I feel neglected.”
While it may be uncomfortable, assertiveness has a wide range of positive outcomes. How can you cultivate a "speak up" culture in your workplace?
Pipaş, M.D. (2010). ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS. Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica, 12(2).