15 Jan 7 Simple Ways You Can Communicate More Effectively in your Relationships
The Importance of Assertive Communication
Humans are social creatures, and the connections we make in our interpersonal relationships play an important role in our overall happiness.
Unfortunately, a large proportion of people experience communication difficulties in their interpersonal relationships. In fact, unhelpful communication styles are a frequent target to work in psychotherapy.
So what do we mean by communication? Communication can be verbal and non-verbal. Non-verbal communication refers to all the ways people communicate without using language, including gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, eye contact, body language, and posture. Difficulties with non-verbal communication tend to be complex and difficult to access directly because they are a lot more subjective. Verbal communication is, however, more accessible, tangible, and easier to modify. In human communication, both verbal and non-verbal communications happen fluidly and play a role in the complexities associated with human communication.
But, what if we could learn to modify our communication style? What would be essential to learn? Where do we start and how do we do it?
Most psychotherapy approaches concentrate on communication, one way on another, and often promote firstly gaining awareness into our own patterns of communication, in order to then create change and hopefully, relieve tension, anxiety, sadness, stress, or whatever other struggles may be arising.
Assertive communication is one of the tools to learn in order to modify our communication style and have a more effective flow of ideas, messages, and thoughts. When we communicate assertively we express our point of view in a clear and direct way while respecting others and their opinions. Using assertive communication can promote healthy relationships with family, friends, and others; manage anger issues; minimise conflict; help us express ideas and opinions clearly, and boost self-esteem.
However, to achieve assertive communication some training must be done in order to understand its principles and practice these until they are applied naturally. For full training and practice, it is wise to seek professional help; however, these are some tips to begin being more assertive in your communication:
- Identify your needs and feelings before you start communicating.
- Check the timing of your communication by using your judgment.
- Quickly check the content of what you are going to say before you say it and be sure to adjust it to the context (i.e. place, situation).
- Make eye contact to engage the other person and demonstrate honesty.
- Regulate you voice tone to a moderate, acceptable one that does not intimidate but is clear.
- Use your non-verbal communication in accordance with your message and its intention (e.g. make you body posture and facial gestures match your message).
- Use “I” statements. They show that you own what you are going to say, and prevent placing blame or judgement on the other person.
If you would like to learn more or start applying these principles to your own communication to live a healthier life, contact Vida Psychology!
For further info on assertive communication, check out these links:
By Dr Katerina Chin-A-Loy
MPsych (Clinical), PhD
Psychologist at Vida Psychology