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Becoming a Self-Manager

Assertive Communication

Updated Aug 7, 2019

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What is Assertive Communication?

Part of being a self manager is learning how to express your needs and limits to others in a clear and respectful way. The term for this is assertive communication.

In this article, you will learn some assertiveness basics and how to access other assertiveness resources.

Assertive communication

Passive and Aggressive Communication

Sometimes to understand assertiveness, it is helpful to understand what it isn’t.

Aggressive communication: You value your rights and needs over others’, avoid compromise, and maybe even shout or get physical.

Passive communication: You value the rights of others over your own, and let others ignore or take advantage of you.

Passive-aggressive communication: You value your rights and needs over others’, but try to get your way while avoiding confrontation.

Assertive communication: Balances your rights and needs with others’ in a way that is clear, direct, and respectful.

Assertive Communication and Concussion

Having a concussion often involves symptoms and limitations that are invisible to others. They can’t know what you are experiencing, or what you can and can’t do, unless you tell them. Learning assertive communication allows you to express your needs and feelings in a clear, respectful way. It could mean learning to say "no," or telling your friends that you will need to leave early if you attend the party.

Tips for Assertive Communication

Good assertive communication takes practice. Here are some assertiveness tips:

  • Be clear and honest
  • Remain calm and respectful
  • Don’t just talk, listen
  • Use a relaxed tone of voice and neutral body language
  • Try to stick to facts instead of judgments
  • Don’t exaggerate
  • Use “I statements” instead of accusing others (Example: “I feel frustrated when you play your music so loud,” instead of “you are so inconsiderate”).

Taking Action! (Option 1)

If you feel developing assertive communication skills is an area you could use some assistance, Bounce Back [webpage] is an excellent resource to get started.

You will need to register for a free account on the site. Under Optional Modules, there is a module on developing assertive communication skills. This module includes a video, an e-book, rules for assertiveness, and worksheets.

Take action

Taking Action! (Option 2)

Here are some excellent resources from the Centre of Clinical Interventions [webpage].

The site offers a free workbook on developing assertiveness - “what it is, what stops us from being assertive and how to be assertive”. The information is organized into modules and designed to be worked in sequence.

Remember, it is important to practice pacing. You may want to skim the information first, and then work through the modules at a pace that works for you.

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