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Express What You Need, in a Way You’ll Be Heard

Updated: May 1

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Being able to communicate effectively is vital to maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family. At times, communicating needs can be difficult. Verbalizing what you need, expressing your feelings and emotions, or being able to say “no” are all important means of communication that can be difficult to overcome without proper communication skills. We have all experienced the time when we were invited to a particular event that we didn't want to go to. So we find ourselves trying to come up with an excuse or force ourselves to be miserable and go. With effective communication skills, you can confidently turn down the invitation and focus on your specific needs without the pressure of others, while being kind about it.   At times, we can find it difficult to communicate due to simply being unsure of whether we are going to hurt the other individual's feelings. In these kinds of situations, we may tend to either avoid (not communicate at all) or turn to aggressive communication, which is when we say things with a negative tone and choice of words, where one can sound blaming, critical or accusatory. According to Princeton University, aggressive communication is defined as expressing your feelings and opinions in a manner that violates the rights of others; Being physically or verbally abusive. Aggressive communication is the main way in which one can be hurtful towards another individual. It can often occur when we are unsure of how to confidently express our feelings and emotions or are frustrated with ourselves or another individual. 

One way that we can focus on communicating our needs without being hurtful or aggressive towards another individual is through being assertive. Being assertive according to positive psychology is defined as meaning, a communication style in which a person stands up for their own needs and wants, while also taking into consideration the needs and wants of others, without behaving passively or aggressively. 

Tips for Assertively Communicating:

  1. Make eye contact: Making eye contact can assist with confidence and being able to clearly express needs and wants believably to the listener

  2. Stand up straight: Confident body language is also useful with assertive communication 

  3. Practice active listening: Listen, notice, and focus on empathizing and understanding the speaker 

  4. Clearly state your needs and wants: Be confident in sharing how you truly feel and what it is that you need to avoid confusion and misunderstandings

  5. Self-soothe before expressing thoughts and feelings: Calmly expressing thoughts and feelings can assist with avoiding making hurtful comments or being passive or aggressive in tone or speech. Understanding the importance of being in a calm mood when communicating can assist with being clear with wants, needs, and feelings

  6.  Practice your responses ahead of time: Practicing your response for difficult topics to communicate feelings and emotions too can be useful for being confident about how you would like to respond in times of distress

  7. Say no when you need to: Instead of coming up with excuses saying no when you need to is important for respecting and valuing your individual needs.

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Examples of assertive communication:

  1. “I won't be able to attend your Friendsgiving on Saturday. I've had a long week and I would like to focus on resting and recuperating.” 

  2. “I have been feeling frustrated when you are on your phone while I am talking to you because it makes me feel unheard. I would appreciate it if we had a technology-free zone when we are having conversations with one another.” 

  3. “I am having a hard time reading my novel while you play your video games. Would you mind using your headphones so that we can both stay in the same room and practice our activities?”

All in all, Effective communication can be difficult but focusing on communicating through assertive communication can be beneficial for both yourself and others. 

For more tips, please check out our other tips here: You can always find us at 954-903-1676 for counseling services. 

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