Active listening is a skill and is very important in assertive communication. It means that you are really listening to the other person, you are not just trying to figure out what you are going to say next.
Active listening involves;
- Using silence; not interrupting, not finishing the other person’s sentences
- Look interested
- Empathize – see the other person’s point of view
- Offer feedback – “Is this what you mean?” “Sounds like you’re worried about…”
- Use friendly statements – “Oh I see” “That’s interesting” “Is that right?”
- Paraphrase what the person says to confirm what you heard – “As i understand it, you…” “So you’re saying that…”
- Try not to change the subject
- Don’t jump to conclusions, clarify what it is you understand
“I feel” statements are very useful for clear communication. A true “I” statements says something about the self without criticizing or blaming the other person and without holding the other person responsible for our feelings or reactions. As well, the other person can not argue with our feelings as easily as our opinions so we avoid debates.
Examples of “I” statements;
- “I feel…”
- “I would appreciate…”
- “I need…”
- “I fear…”
- “I want…”
It is important to avoid all “you” staements as they are likely to make the other person defensive.
Watch out not to use “you” statements with an “I feel” in front of it. These are disguised “you” statements.
Examples of disguised “you” statements;
- “I feel you are controlling and self-centered”
- “I feel you don’t listen to me”
also avoid opinions as they can become implied “you” statements. Stick with feelings.
Examples of implied “you” statements;
- “I feel taken advantage of” (implying “you” are taking advantage of “me”)
- “I feel manipulated” (implying “you” are manipulating “me”)
Awareness of the effect of body language and non-verbal communication is essential for assertiveness. You can engage people’s interest, convey empathy, and maximize the likelihood of being heard and understood all in the way you present yourself.
Good non-verbal communication involves being aware of the following;
- Space – respect personal distance
- Posture – lean forward, face the person, relax your arms, keep your head up
- Gestures – nodding, using your hands, maintaining good eye contact
- Facial Expressions – smiling, laughing, looking serious when discussing serious topic
- Voice Tone – even tone of voice, volume