You should consider my feelings. You should stand up for me. You should know what I’m thinking. Really? Wow.

Or this. I want what I want and to hell with the rest of you! Ooooo k……

I’ve been reading a bit about assertive communication lately. I can’t claim to have been doing it well but I’m interested. I’m practicing.

Many people think being assertive is just standing up for yourself, getting what you want. That’s not it exactly.

Equal rights

Assertive communication says that we all have equal rights. Your rights and my rights are both important. We can’t have successful relationships if we’re not both important.

Equal responsibility

At the same time, we are all responsible for our actions. We are all responsible for what we do and don’t do. We all have to take responsibility for our behaviours.

Giving voice

If you tend towards a passive style, you probably hope (or imagine) that others are competent at mind-reading. They’re not. You feel resentful that you don’t count. But guess what, you only count if you decide you do. And you only get what you want if you ask for it. You have to open your mouth.

It’s not about getting everything you want

It actually isn’t about getting everything you want. It’s about standing up and saying what you want, what’s bothering you. It’s about being counted in the vote. Sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t. It feels better to say what you want.

Win/win

Assertive communication is about win/win. It’s about working together. Stating what you want and hearing what the other person wants. It’s about understanding each other and seeing what you have to work with.

Why assertive comms?

If  you always push to get what you want (regardless of others’ needs) then you’ll put people off. No one wants to give a shouter what they need. No one wants to be bullied into compliance. That stuff leads to revolution.

At the same time, if you never say what you need and you tip toe around, you don’t get respect. You become the angry doormat. No one knows you. You don’t count as an equal citizen. You chose not to be counted.

It’s a risk

It’s a risk to say what you want. It’s also a risk not to speak up. Relationships can’t be on an honest foundation without clear communication.

I’m not sure that many people do this well but I’m on the look-out for role models. I think most of us veer towards passive or aggressive at times.

What about you?

  • Do you push for what you want and to hell with the world?
  • Do you always have the last word?
  • Do you keep quiet and go along with things and build resentment?
  • Do you never say NO, even when you’re over-stretched?
  • Do you count yourself last?
  • What’s your main communication style?

I’m just interested in this topic. I think it’s important for all of us. It’s something to practice. If you’re interested, read further.

I do wonder about those older couples who have screaming rows that seem to pass like a summer storm. I guess it’s all out in the open. Maybe no one takes it seriously. Or separation wasn’t an option. Maybe if everyone is yelling, everyone is equal. That looks different to the current psychology theories but maybe that works too. I don’t know. What do you think?

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