Today I’d like to pass on three simple tips for improving your own assertive communication through choosing and using your language more appropriately.

  1. Don’t over apologise or over justify.
  2. Minimise the use of hesitant language.
  3. Know when to shut up.

Tip one: Don’t over explain or over apologise.
Here I would like to concentrate on the language you use when you are standing up for yourself. Perhaps you want to turn down a request from a friend or a colleague because you have something else planned.

The unassertive person might say something like;

“Uh..well, I’d really sorry. I’d love to be able to help you with that but, uhm.. it’s a bit difficult for me right now because….well I said I’d finish the report on X by Friday and .. well it would be a bit..I mean, I don’t think I could really do your bit too unless I worked really late if that would help..and …Oh alright then, I’ll do it!”

Contrast this wordy, apologetic and rambling effort with that of a person who has learned to be a bit more assertive;

“Thanks for asking me, I’m flattered but I really can’t help you at this time. I’ve already got more than I can handle to get done by Friday”.

The key difference is clarity directness and brevity.

Tip 2: Avoidance of hesitant language.
Words like possibly, maybe, hopefully, sort of, and kind of suggest that you are unsure or uncertain of your position which in turn undermines your position assertiveness.
Replace them with worlds like definitely, can, will, must and your assertiveness will increase and people will take you more seriously.

Tip 3: Know When to Shut Up.
Less is more in assertive communication. As we have already seen in tip one, assertive people speak clearly, directly and succinctly. They also have learned to be comfortable with silence. After they have stated their position they shut up and wait for the other party to respond. Learning to use pauses in this way helps you gain control in communication situations, both face to face and over the phone. Gaining control helps you to feel better about yourself and so builds a virtuous circle.

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