Being heard clearly is probably the number one challenge for all us. Whether we lead a team or are an active member of an organization, sharing our ideas in the way we want others to receive them is important.
In fact, when our messages are misunderstood or taken the wrong way, we can become very frustrated or even angry. We just want to be able to express ourselves with conviction and clarity. When I asked a group of leaders this week where they wanted to be a more powerful communicator some of the responses were:
“ Sometimes I can’t find the right words to use to convey my thoughts.”
“People don’t always understand my message.”
“I get frustrated when I ramble on and can’t stay on the topic.”
“I sometimes don’t speak out and keep my thoughts to myself. Later I become upset that I didn’t say what I needed to say.”
We’ve all been there. Feeling that our message was a bit accusatory or perhaps not firm enough. As a result we may shy away from offering our ideas or give up altogether in expressing our suggestions.
There really is a better way to communicate and that is assertively. When we are assertive communicators we are able to state our needs, wants and desires in a clear and concise way while still being respectful of the other person’s point of view.
Assertive Communicators speak with clarity and respect.
To be an assertive communicator we need to:
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR WORDS
The words we choose reflect on who we are. When deciding on what message we want to share, selecting words that are clear and accurate is essential. So how do we do this?
- Use “I” statements that ensure ownership of our thoughts
- Avoid negative and judgmental language
- Try to stay clear of the “accusatory you”. Instead of saying “You are wrong” say, “I disagree”.
- It can be helpful to take the time to find just the right word choice
USE FEELING TALK
Leaders know that when they express themselves with honesty, it can be helpful to share their likes and interests. Assertive communicators are never monotone but bring feelings into their conversations.
VALIDATE OTHER’S POINTS OF VIEW
A secret ingredient to having other people listen to us is being able to recognize their perspectives. Even though we may disagree, we first need to validate their challenges or reasons for their decisions. When we tell others that we understand why they may feel a certain way, they will be more likely to tune into what we have to say. The goal is to cultivate a dialogue where both people get a chance to share their opinions
Assertive communicators validate other people’s points of view.
Assertive communicators don’t give up easily if they feel that what they have to say is critical. Of course they stay open-minded, but are always willing to stick with their ideas. To stay persistent it can be helpful to:
- Choose a different way to present your suggestion
- Be aware of the other person’s communication style
- Do more research if something doesn’t seem right
- Try to reach a compromise with both your choices and theirs
BE CLEAR ON OUR DIRECTION
There’s nothing worse than trying to persuade someone of a direction when we are not sure ourselves of where we are headed. Be crystal clear on what you want to say and why. Think ahead of how the other person might challenge you and be prepared with meaningful responses. It will be much easier to stay on topic when we are ready for possible counter points.
What strategies have worked for you to be an assertive communicator?
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