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Express Yourself and Earn Respect with Assertive Communication Skills

written by: C.D. Crowder•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 5/17/2011

Do you feel like others take advantage of you when communicating? Assertive communication skills help you to express yourself effectively to others. Assertiveness helps reduce stress and makes you more confident when working and dealing with other people.

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    Learn to Say No

    Many of us have difficulty saying no to others. We feel awkward or guilty if we say no when someone asks for a favor. However, the less you say no, the more stress you put on yourself. This also results in people taking advantage of you. One of the most important skilles to learn is the ability to say “No.”

    When someone asks you to do something for them, politely and firmly say “No.” Tell the person you already have other responsibilities at the moment and though you would love to help, you are simply too busy at the moment. Whatever happens, don’t budge.

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    Respect Yourself

    It’s difficult to be assertive if you don’t respect yourself. If you respect yourself, you become more confident. Confidence leads others to be more respectful to you as well. Confidence also leads to more assertive behavior. After all, why should others listen and respect you, if you don’t feel you deserve it? Remember, you are important and what you have to say is important as well.

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    Respect Others

    Respecting yourself is great, but don’t become cocky. Disrespect destroys assertiveness. Treat others with the same respect you want to be treated with. Be polite and respectful when you speak. The way you act determines how others will respond to you.

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    Stay Factual

    To effectively hone your communication skills, always stick to the facts. It’s easy to base a conversation on gossip or even anger. However, if you always base on statements on facts, you express yourself more assertively. You also gain a reputation for being honest and factual. Facts tend to lead to calm, comfortable conversations instead of an angry blame game.

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    Communication isn’t just about learning how to say the right words. Your posture is just as important as the words you say or the tone you use. Keep your posture straight, but relaxed. Try not to slouch as this makes you appear disrespectful or disinterested. A relaxed postured makes those around you more comfortable.

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    Never Assume

    When you speak to someone, it is easy to assume certain things from the way a person acts or the things they say. However, unless someone says something specifically, never assume you know what they mean. A great way to hone your assertive communication skills is to learn to ask for clarification. The more you understand, the better you will communicate.

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    No matter how hard you try, everyone is not going to agree with you. The sign of a truly assertive person is the ability to begin working on a compromise. The easiest compromise is to agree to disagree. However, in some situations, an important skill is to work with the other person to find a compromise the two of you can both be happy with.

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    Be Firm

    No matter what your posture says or how many facts you use, assertive communication isn’t effective unless you remain firm. If you sound uncertain, others will quickly walk all over you. Be firm with your statements. This leaves little room for argument and makes people take you seriously when you speak.

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    Eye Contact

    In addition to posture, keep eye contact with those you communicate with. This makes you appear more confident. This type of assertiveness in communication allows you to view another’s expressions as you speak to judge how they react to your opinions or statements. Eye contact is also a sign of respect.

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    Assertive communication skills will only take you so far unless you are willing to also listen to what others have to say. No one will listen to what you have to say until you involve them in the conversation. Listen to their opinions and questions. Ask questions to clarify when necessary. Being assertive during conversations means both talking and listening effectively.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Einar Fannes