Talking confidently in English without being rude can be a bit tough for many people, which is the main reason I hosted this webinar on March 31st, 2020. The idea behind it was to help people learn some useful techniques and strategies for assertive communication in their work and in their life. I really enjoyed the webinar and here are the main takeaways…
What is assertive communication?
Assertive communication means you are direct about your wants and needs while still considering the rights, needs and wants of others. When you communicate assertively, you are confident and powerful in getting your point across without acting like a bully or seeming pushy.
To communicate assertively (without being rude), you can use these strategies:
- Avoid modal verbs
- Use “I” statements rather than “You” statements
- Avoid words that undervalue what you say
- Use “Thanks, but…” sentences
- Use “fogging”
- Set clear boundaries
1. Avoid Modal Verbs
When you want to be assertive, try avoiding words like could, would, might, may, should, and try using “Will” instead. Also, try using “want” instead of “need”.
Modals are great for polite and diplomatic communication; however, sometimes they can dim the meaning and make you sound insecure.
I may need additional training in order to perfect my sales skills in 2020.
I will need additional training in order to perfect my sales skills in 2020.
Both of these sentences are saying the same thing, but the second one is more confident and more assertive.
2. Use “I” Statements Rather than “You” statements
Want to get your point across and show you stand behind what you believe? Use “I” statements such as: I want, I believe, I am certain, I know, I feel, I am sure.
I know I am the best person for this job because…
You can also use “I” statements to focus on your feelings and thoughts instead of blaming others.
“I don’t agree” rather than “You are wrong”
“I am treated unfairly” rather than “You are so unfair”
3. Avoid Words that Undervalue What You Say
We often use words that “soften” our sentences, which undermines what we are trying to get across.
For example, we say:
I’m sorry to bother you but can I have your report by this evening?
I just wanted to talk to you about something.
I guess I wouldn’t like to work during the weekends.
If it’s ok, I would like to have a word with you.
The word “just” tells people that what you are saying is not important.
Saying “sorry” when you don’t really need to apologize makes you look unconfident.
When you use the phrase “I guess”, it seems like you are not certain about what you are saying, or you don’t quite believe it yourself.
Other phrases you should avoid for similar reasons include: “It might sound crazy but…”, “If it’s ok…”, “I could be wrong…”
Instead of these phrases, use the “I” statements!
4. Use “Thanks, But…” Sentences
Remember that you do not always have to give a reason when you disagree with someone. “Thanks, but…” phrases are polite, yet confident in saying “no”.
You can use some of these phrases to refuse requests that don’t work for you:
“Thanks, but I’m not interested.”
„Thanks for thinking of me, but I think I’ll pass on this one.“
“Thanks, but I can’t make that a priority right now.”
„Thanks, but no thanks.“ (although this one is more fit for informal situations than business)
5. Use “Fogging”
Fogging is a very useful technique that you can use in your assertive communication. The idea is that you will acknowledge something you agree with when someone criticizes you, but you will ignore the rest.
I agree with how you feel about this, but I think…
I respect your opinion; however, …
You are right about…. But on the other hand…
6. Set clear boundaries
This one can be pretty tough, especially if you are not used to communicating assertively. However, it is something you can practice. Be very clear about what you want, and about what doesn’t work for you.
People can sometimes be very pushy and rude and try to set their agenda, but it is up to you to let them know that some things are just not going to work.
I am available on Mondays and Wednesdays, but Thursdays won’t work for me after 2 PM.
To Sum Up…
Assertive communication is something you have to work on and practice – it is tough at first, but it will make your life much easier once you master it. Practice these techniques and I’m sure you’ll get better at it the more you use them!
Want to listen to the entire webinar? Check the video below and make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for future webinar and interview recordings.
Do you know any other useful techniques for assertive communication? Let me know in the comments!