It’s Okay to Speak Up, Really (Part 2)

Last week, we posted the first three aspects of assertive communication: 1)speak openly, honestly and directly; 2)state thoughts and feelings without becoming defensive; and 3)be courteous and respectful.  Here are the next four steps.

  1.  Exercise timing.  Discuss important matters at a time which is good for all involved.  Discussions late at night when your partner’s tired or first thing in the morning before they’re fully awake, is not recommended.   Make certain you each have the attention and energy for a constructive conversation. 
  2. Make clear requests.  If there’s something you want, ask for it.  Don’t expect others to read your mind.  Relationship problems often occur when we don’t take responsibility for expressing our needs.  Real intimacy is being able to say what’s on your mind.
  3. Speak from your heart.  Make your intention to have a “confiding” conversation even if you feel angry or hurt.  Use “I” statements like “I felt angry when I thought you weren’t listening.”  Don’t blame or demean the other person.  This sets the tone for them to do the same.   Whatever they do, practice assertive communication.
  4. Provide clarification.  If the receiver doesn’t understand what’s said, offer clarification or restate it.  However, even when things are stated clearly, it doesn’t mean that’s how they’ll be heard.  Each of us filters what we hear through the lens with which we see the world.

While the goal of assertive communication is to better understand each other, its success is not gaurunteed.  Still, it is up to us to create the opportunity for this to occur by communicating assertively.