The aggressive communicator is able to express their thoughts and feelings; however they do so by offending people and not being respectful of others’ rights. They tend to lack limits or boundaries with others and have a need to be in control of their surroundings or relationships.
Most people tend to be passive-aggressive. They have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings clearly. They get their point across through sarcasm or through behavior, rather than speaking directly about their concerns and needs. As someone on the receiving end of a passive/aggressive communicator, you find yourself trying to read between the lines most of the time. Similar to the passive person, they don’t want to cause any problems within the relationship, but they want the other person to know what they did wrong or how they were hurtful. The way they communicate is often vague and mixed with humor or sarcasm. If their point isn’t being understood through indirect means, frustration often leads them to aggressive communication styles, which is offensive and disrespectful in the process.
Assertive Communication = The Ideal Way To Communicate
The assertive communicator is able to express thoughts and feelings clearly and directly, yet they are mindful of not being disrespectful. This does not mean when you are assertive that the other person may not get hurt or upset, however, communication is very respectful. The goal is to understand each other, not to prove that one is right and the other is wrong. It’s a win/win communication style. Assertive communication is done openly and often so concerns don’t get bottled up, which typically leads to an explosion later on. The assertive person is direct, thus reducing the likelihood of assumptions being made by the other person who is trying to determine the meaning from what was being stated.
We all use these styles at different times in our lives but one style is more successful than others – assertive communication. The goal of being assertive is to express your thoughts and feelings respectfully. You also want to be open to hearing feedback and concerns from the other person.
The keys to using assertive communication include:
- Speaking from your own experience and using “I” statements
- Telling the other person that you hear them by acknowledging their feelings
- Stating what you want respectfully
- Knowing some alternatives or compromises to what you want
It’s also important to stay away from absolute words and statements that tend to create defensiveness in others. These include: always, never, everyone, no one, I told you so, you should have, could have, would have, etc. Also refrain from giving advice and starting a sentence with “You.”
It’s difficult to speak assertively when we’re emotionally reactive but if you can slow yourself down and remember your goal of having a successful exchange, rather than a win/lose exchange, your communication with others in all relationships will prove to be more satisfying, less stressful, and more successful.