How can you use assertive communication without being the bad guy?
Many people confuse being assertive with being selfish. Being assertive means nothing more than being clear on what you want and expressing it.
Sometimes, the recipient of your message will make an emotional judgment about what you’ve said that is based on their own needs. Because this judgement is an emotional one, it’s often the case that it’s not rational. Separating emotion from logic is one of the challenges that you will face when making an assertive communication.
It goes without saying, therefore, that before using assertive communication you will have stepped back and looked at all of the options objectively. Until you have done so, and you’re absolutely certain that what you’re about to say is in the best interests of all concerned, it may be better to hold your counsel.
By going through the process of stepping back you’ll be able to assess the situation from a detached and logical view point. Having this objectivity will assist you greatly in deciding whether or not it is prudent to use assertive communication.
In all communications between people the ultimate objective is to create a situation in which all parties win. Being assertive does not imply that you must win and they must lose. Nor should it imply that you must be right.
When approaching a situation where you feel you need to use assertive communication, it may be better to look at it from the view point of “what can I do or say that will make this situation better for me and for the other person?” If you also start your message to the other party by reframing it with a statement such as “I have thought this through and I believe that this may be the best course of action for us to take. I’m say this because I believe this is in both of our best interests. I’m not saying this because I want to, or need to, win. What I’m about to say is so that you can win and I can win.”
At this point, it would be better if you wait for the response from the other person and adjust your message to address their answer. By doing this, they will feel heard and understood, and they will be far more likely to cooperate with your request.
Once you’re both agreed that the conversation is about creating the best possible outcome for all parties, you can then proceed with your assertive communication.
Being assertive does not mean blaming, criticizing or putting the other person down in any way. You merely state what happens, the concrete affect that it has on you, and how you feel as a result of it. By doing it this way, if you stick to this formula, the other person will be unable to dispute what actually happens when they do whatever they do.
There’s always the danger that the other party will disagree with whatever you say, including the things in the formula. At this point you’re then faced with a choice. You can either restate the things you said earlier or you can choose to terminate the conversation and reconsider other ways you can say what you want to say.
In some situations, other people are so entrenched in defending their way of thinking or being that nothing you say will change their perspective. If that is the case, you may have to reconsider whether or not you wish to continue with that relationship.