April 8 , 2019 • 4 minute read • by Saeed
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
-George Bernard Shaw
Building good relationships in the workplace is imperative to your success. It goes without saying that developing strong communication skills will increase the chance of successful relationships.
Communication skills, broadly speaking, encompass a cluster of skills related to how you articulate your points (assertively, aggressively or submissively), your ability to listen actively, how you ask questions and your non verbal communication i.e. your voice tone, body language and facial expressions, learning how to deal with conflict, presentation skills, giving feedback and so on.
It Starts With How You See Things
It all starts with how you see things. Your beliefs and thoughts, expectations, attitudes to yourself and others – all have impact on the quality of your interaction with others. They play a key role in whether you are communicating assertively, submissively or aggressively.
If your thoughts are negative about the situation, yourself or the other person, it follows that your emotions will be impacted negatively as well. If you find yourself getting angry, annoyed, nervous, uptight etc., the cause of these negative feelings is rooted in how you think about the situation in the first place. These feelings impact on your behaviors which come across in your communication. And this is the self-fulfilling prophecy that then influences the overall outcome.
How To Communicate More Effectively
Assertive communication is the honest expression of one’s own needs, wants and feelings, while respecting those of the other person. When you communicate assertively, your manner is non-threatening and non-judgmental, and you take responsibility for your own actions. Assertive communication is stating your needs and wants, feelings, opinions and beliefs in direct, honest and appropriate ways.
Assertive communication is the premier communication skill that can reduce conflict, build your self-confidence and improve relationships in the workplace.
Here are some tips to help you learn to be more assertive:
- Make the decision to positively assert yourself. Commit to being assertive rather than passive or aggressive and start practicing what that looks like today.
- Aim for open and honest communication. Remember to respect other people when you are sharing your feelings, wants, needs, beliefs or opinions.
- Listen actively. Try to understand the other person’s point of view and don’t interrupt when they are explaining it to you.
- Agree to disagree. Remember that having a different point of view doesn’t mean you are right and the other person is wrong.
- Avoid guilt trips. Be honest and tell others how you feel or what you want without making accusations or making them feel guilty.
- Stay calm. Breathe normally, look the person in the eye, keep your face relaxed and speak in a normal voice.
- Take a problem-solving approach to conflict. Try to see the other person as your friend not your enemy.
- Practice assertiveness. Talk in an assertive way in front of a mirror or with a friend. Pay attention to your body language as well as to the words you say.
- Use ‘I’. Stick with statements that include ‘I’ in them such as ‘I think’ or ‘I feel’. Don’t use aggressive language such as ‘you always’ or ‘you never’.
- Be patient. Being assertive is a skill that needs practice. Remember that you will sometimes do better at it than at other times, but you can always learn from your mistakes.
A final word
Assertive communication style brings many benefits. For example, it can help you to relate to others more genuinely, with less anxiety and resentment. It also gives you more control over your life, and reduces feelings of helplessness. Furthermore, it allows OTHER people the right to live their lives.
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