Easy Ways To Communicate Assertively In English
Assertive communication is the art of expressing your standpoints while being respectful and considerate of others’ needs, rights, and feelings. It is most helpful when communicating delicate messages in uncomfortable situations. It can be applied in any social setting and for any audience, whether it be in business, with friends, or at home. Through it, you can communicate with balance. Your delivered messages don’t sound confrontational, aggressive, nor submissive. Communicating assertively may not come naturally to everyone. Read this article to learn some tips on how you can start communicating assertively.
1. Begin with a greeting and use words that show good manners
Start any conversation light and positive by beginning with greetings such as a “good morning” or “hello.” Also, when asking for a request, use the word “please” to avoid sounding pushy. Using “please” does not make you sound pleading, but polite, considerate, and professional. However, make sure that you don’t repeatedly use it as it won’t sound sincere and appear as if your message is too structured.
“Hello, Ben, can you please give me an update about the event preparation?”
“Please indicate the preparation details of the upcoming event in your report.”
2. Use “I” statements
Using an I statement is good when articulating your standpoints or your strong feeling about an issue. It focuses on how you are affected by other’s behavior. It is non-threatening to the other person and doesn’t sound accusatory. Using I statement makes your message clear. Also, it allows you to take ownership of your reactions, thoughts, and feelings while addressing the behavior of the other person effectively. I statement starts with the pronoun “I” and is normally followed by the words “want”, “need”, or “feel”.
“I need the report by 4 pm today.”
“I will submit the report on time.”
“I want to share the content of the report with my team.”
3. Use “When… I feel” statements
“When.. I feel” statement allows you to tell how someone’s behavior affects you and what can be done to help change the situation. As you describe your feeling, the other person becomes aware of the consequences of his actions. Though this approach is direct, it is non-attacking. By simply telling what you feel about their behavior, it is not putting judgments or labels. To use it, construct your sentences using “When you (the person’s behavior), I feel (your feelings).
“When you raise your voice at me, I feel disrespected.”
“When you arrive late for our meeting, I have to wait, and I feel really annoyed.”
4. Avoid non-assertive words that can undervalue your point
Some words can weaken the importance and authority of what you’re saying. These non-assertive words include “just”, “sorry”, and “guess.” Refrain from using them when communicating and instead focus on delivering your message with a more direct approach to strengthen your tone
“I just wanted to ask you if I can talk to you about something .”
“I’m sorry to bother you, but can I talk to you about something.”
“I guess I really have to talk to you about something.”
“I need to talk to you about something.”
5. Use facts
Assertive language requires factual descriptions, especially when talking about behavior and the effect you’d like to be changed. Using facts prevents you from using negative words or labels that may sound accusatory or convey judgments. Moreover, this helps avoid confrontation when you are being assertive as your message will be more considered constructive feedback.
Negative sounding statement
“You’ve submitted an unreliable report again.”
“The report you submitted has information about the new branch performance missing.”
6. Refrain from using exaggerating statements
When we want to point out someone’s fault, we exaggerate describing the behavior or its effects. By exaggerating, we end up judging others and lose our aim to deliver messages based on facts. Using exaggerating words can make the person you are talking with offended and focus on it rather than on your main point. So if you want to communicate assertively, articulate the effects of his behavior accurately, and avoid overdramatizing it.
“This project is going to take forever.”
“I think I need three months to work on this project.”
7. Describe your exact feeling with a single word
Describing your feelings about other people’s behavior at times can be challenging. Hence we tend to use a lot of words to articulate what we feel. As we struggle in expressing our feelings, our main point becomes vague and confusing. Aim to communicate clearly to help the reader understand it better. Clarify your feelings towards the behavior of someone by sharing your feelings briefly. Simply state whether you feel happy, disrespected, angry, annoyed, anxious, sad, hurt, frustrated, joyful, or whatever you are feeling.
“I don’t understand why you remain unproductive, and your routine is still the same.”
“I feel frustrated.”
8. Refrain from using modal
When trying to use diplomatic language, modals are often used to sound more polite. However, the use of could, would, might, and should may not be helpful when you are trying to communicate assertively. If you use “should” it may sound strong and commanding, while if you use could, might, and would, your message may sound too polite. Instead of using these modals, use “will”.
“I could visit it by the end of the month.”
“I will visit it by the end of the month.”
“Could you visit it by the end of the month?”
“Will you visit it by the end of the month?”
9. Include statements showing empathy
Feelings also matter. Show that you are being considerate of where the other person is coming from and what he feels by validating it. Acknowledge his perspective and feeling while also articulating clearly your point. You don’t have to agree with what he says but simply acknowledge his situation.
“I understand you are upset by this decision, but I feel that this is fair to everyone.”
“I understand that the project your handling is urgent, but I also got a full workload already, and I have to submit the proposal today.”
10. Use the word clarify when communicating assertively about a discrepancy
There are instances when what you have come to agree with another person is not being followed. If this happens or when you don’t understand a person’s behavior or point of view, ask for clarification. Refrain from assuming or interpreting what the other person said to avoid miscommunication. In cases like this, the word “clarify” is helpful.
“I have the understanding that we would have the venue’s inspection today, but I’ve heard that you made an appointment with the supplier. I’d like to clarify if this is true.”
11. Make your questions clear and direct
Questions are necessary during a discussion to understand better the point of view of the person you are talking with. When asking questions, be sure to make it clear and effective by being direct. Doing this will help you vividly understand their preferences, opinions, needs, and expected outcomes. This will also make the other person perceive that he has to provide a specific answer as it would be your point of reference.
“What were the submitted previous ideas, and what do you think about this plan?”
“What do you think about this plan?’’
12. Be specific when making a request
Assertive communication requires you to be comfortable when asking for what you want. Others won’t know or be able to guess what you want automatically; hence you need to tell them specifically. You cannot expect to have what you want if you don’t ask for it. When making a request, make it specific and direct. Make your statement brief and tell exactly what you want. Indicate clearly the actions, needs, or expectations you want from the other person or what you want to happen. Refrain from hiding or qualify your needs.
“If it isn’t too much trouble, I would like to talk to you later.”
Specific and direct
“We need to talk about the project; what time are you free?”
13. Use the word “if” for stating consequences
When someone fails to accommodate your request, do their task, comply with the given deadline, or continually violate your boundaries, it may be important to tell the other person the consequence of their actions. When you tell them the consequence, introduce it by using the word “if”. State the outcomes clearly by explaining the result of the other person’s behavior briefly. This will at least allow him to rectify or make some adjustments needed. Avoid including threats or ultimatums in your reasoning.
“If that doesn’t work for you, I can always proceed with Plan B.”
“If this happens again, I have no choice but to report it to our team leader.”
14. Include the expression “I’ll get back to you” when telling you need more time
Making decisions on-the-spot may be uncomfortable. If you are caught up in a situation where you are pressured to respond to a certain need, concern, or opinion, but prefer more time to think and consider the situation first, then let the other person know. Do this by expressing that you are in a state of being undecided and add the expression “I’ll get back to you”.
“I need to consult this first with my boss. I’ll get back to you as soon as I’ve spoken about this with him.”
“I’d like some time to think about this offer. Can I get back to you first thing tomorrow morning to discuss further?”
15. Finish by expressing your appreciation
If someone accommodated or has done something good for you, express your gratitude. Let them know that you are genuinely thankful and appreciate their effort. Instead of just saying “thanks” provide a complete brief thank you statement to avoid sounding curt. Doing this will make the other person feel that you really considered their effort. Also, your message will be more genuine sounding thus more appreciated.
“Thanks for helping with the project.”
“I appreciate your prompt response.”
It is easier to apply assertive communication when you have already practiced using it. Practice it even before you encounter a challenging situation that would require you to use it. Identify how you’ll start your message, the words and phrases you’ll use, and how you will deliver it. Gain the confidence you need to communicate assertively by learning and practicing it.
LingualBox offers different English courses where you will learn useful expressions in your everyday conversations. This includes the vocabulary you need when talking assertively. Our tutors can help you craft your messages and practice delivering them.
While assertive communication does not guarantee success and get what you want all the time, it enables you to express your preferences and voice out your point of view. Assertive communication may take practice to master it, but it is definitely helpful. Choose which tips listed above are applicable to your situations, and use them whenever you can. By consistently applying them, talking assertively will eventually become more natural to you.
Learn useful expressions to communicate assertively by enrolling in LingualBox. Avail your 2 free trial classes today to kickstart your English learning.