Assertive Communication - [website] Email Print
Published: 23rd of Nov 2018 by: Carolyn Kessler

Most of us are woefully unassertive. We constantly experience interactions where we are simply unable to convey who we are or what our point of view actually is. We live with the frustration of ineffectively navigating our way through life, and it really sucks!!

We’re born with a really strong fight/freeze/flight default setting which kicks in immediately we’re faced with a threat – either perceived or real.

When your colleague takes you aside to give you ‘feedback’ on where you’ve been falling down on your KPI’s, many of us simply lack the skill and self-control to receive the information in an assertive – calm, honest, unemotional – manner. Your defence mechanisms naturally default to one or all of the following:

It’s a threat – someone doesn’t like something about you and that’s just plain scary.
• You have always avoided any sort of conflict or confrontation by any means possible – and this is conflict, right?
• You know your natural reaction would be to freeze and not say what is pertinent to in order to lay out your opinion, then beat yourself up for not saying your piece.
• Your natural reaction is to lose your mind and go into attack mode in an effort to shut this threat down.
• You’ve always employed the passive aggressive style of appearing to listen, all the while constructing a covert plan in which you’ll make life difficult for this person by undermining them in the nicest possible way.
You’re overwhelmed and become submissive – offering up heartfelt apologies and promising to change everything about yourself.

These are just some of the behaviour patterns we’ve formed since childhood. None are effective. All leave you berating yourself. In addition, you’ve just missed a perfect opportunity to receive, analyse and possibly grow through feedback.

If you were in an assertive frame of mind your reaction would have become an action – something of which you are mindful. Emotion didn’t flood your brain, so you were able to think and act as opposed to react. Therefore you are likely to behave in the following manner:

Calmly listen to the feedback.
Assess what of worth, if any, could benefit you and plan to incorporate that into your future pattern of behaviour.
Focus on the issues raised and completely ignore any hidden agendas on the part of the other person.
Interact during the conversation in an open and honest manner – clarify what you think you heard, specifically. (Remember, you’re focussing only on the issue – not the motivation.)
• Agree on what needs to be implemented – why, when and how.
Put your point across where appropriate in order to build a way forward that will benefit both of you.
• Actually be thankful that someone thought you of sufficient worth to give you information that could benefit you.
• Remain in the ‘adult’ thinking mode throughout.
• Leave the conversation with your self-respect intact.
• Leave the other person with their self-respect intact.
Learn and grow as much from the content of the interaction, as you do from the ‘unnatural’ way in which you remained present, objective and honest throughout.

Now you’ve experienced and practised the fundamentals of assertive behaviour. Well done – only 20% of the population are estimated to have this skill down pat.

Because this is a learned skill, you need training. That’s where we come in. Assertiveness training is one of our most popular workshops – I don’t need to explain why!

Give us a call – we really understand where you are and we can make a difference.

Email us at for more info or give us a call at 0861 996 660

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