Last Wednesday Susan from Working Moms Against Guilt posted about having difficult conversations with loved ones instead of an uncensored “snarkfest” brought on by repeatedly withdrawing from confrontation. Sound familiar? Most of my female friends and clients describe struggling with this because “nice girls” don’t make waves and depend on approval to feel good.
This week, I’m offering some guidelines for assertive not aggressive communication to help with this challenging practice. Remember, it’s important to be open and direct about both positive and negative emotions because love and praise often go unspoken too.
- Be assertive. Speak openly, honestly and directly. Don’t be passive: beat around the bush, shut down, stop listening or withdraw. Don’t be aggressive: yell, blame, belittle the other person or fight to be right. Express yourself fully and listen openly to what the other has to say.
- State your thoughts and feelings openly, honestly, and clearly. If you perceive the other person is not understanding what you are saying, try again. Remain calm, centered and non-defensive. Help them lower their guard so they can hear you fully and accurately.
- Be courteous and respectful. Pay attention. Stop doing other things (TV, computer, etc). Make eye contact. If you disagree with what they say or their perception of what you’ve said, let them know openly and directly but don’t attack them. Give and expect respect.
These suggestions foster open, honest, assertive communication. They set the tone for a win-win situation. Practice with someone you trust first. Next week, Part 2 of what to do.