Good communication is all about being able to listen to others, express your own thoughts and feelings and being able to accept the beliefs and feelings of others, even if you might have different opinions about things.
Assertiveness is used to describe a certain way of behaving and communicating with others. When we are adopting an assertive way of behaving and communicating, we are communicating our feelings, thoughts and beliefs in an open, honest manner while respecting the rights, opinions and beliefs of others.
We may act in an unassertive manner because we have learned through our experiences to behave that way. This learning process can sometimes be traced back to our childhood. Children’s behaviour is subtly shaped by the models they are exposed to and by the encouragement, or lack of it, received from parents, family, friends and school. Difficulties in communication and assertiveness may also result from a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, following difficult or traumatic events or for a variety of other reasons.
Similarly, we may act in an unassertive manner because we have learned through our experiences that it is best to behave this way. We have all learned to be the way we are; so it makes sense that we can unlearn our bad habits and learn to behave differently. This includes things like being able to set boundaries, expressing our emotions, say ‘no’ to others in an appropriate way, and express our opinions without feeling self-conscious.
The importance of effective communication cannot be underestimated as it influences our relationships and relationships are central to emotional health. In addition, a lack of effective communication can lead to disputes, social isolation & misunderstandings, all of which can cause emotional distress. Furthermore, effective communication is an essential part of having successful personal and work based relationships which can help you get what you want out of life.
The numerous benefits of being more assertive are that it allows us to express our thoughts and feelings in a way that does not disregard the thoughts and feelings of others. It helps promote mutual respect. It helps improve self-confidence and self-belief. It helps us to get what we want from life without hurting others. It enables us to compromise. Furthermore, it prevents feeling like you have been taken advantage of.
If you are struggling with being more assertive and/or communicating more confidently, it is important to get professional help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) provides tools and techniques to help improve your ability to be more assertive and your communication style generally.