A common issue that many couples bring up in session is communication. Neither partner seems to know what messages the other is trying to convey; they feel misunderstood and angry. Learning to speak assertively, instead of aggressively or passively, is a tool to learn for success.
What is Assertive Communication?
Assertive Communication is defined as being open, honest, and direct while expressing ideas and feelings. Being confident, clear, and controlled is important while delivering assertive messages.
- Confident: knowing you can handle the situation
- Clear: your message is easy to understand
- Controlled: you are calm and collected while delivering the message
On the other hand, aggressive and passive communication are opposites; aggression displays confident and uncontrolled messages and passive delivers controlled messages that lack any confidence.
Assertive communication is an important staple of an intimate relationship. Being able to speak in an open and honest way without “beating around the bush” can create a new level of intimacy and trust within your relationship.
For example, “Ashley and Sydney” had been having difficulties expressing their feelings with each other. We discussed assertive communication skills and practiced in session. The next week, they came back ecstatic at how their communication skills improved within the week! They were able to directly and respectfully place boundaries with one another and discuss the depths of their relationship. They realized that after a year together they had only scratched the surface of learning about one another. They also found many things that they disagreed upon. Assertive communication allowed them to speak openly about their differing beliefs, while giving their partner the opportunity to learn something new.
It should be noted that assertive communication may not work with everyone. There are certain individuals that feel a sense of entitlement to their views and do not want to be on even footing while communicating. Assertive communication can make your point clear to this person, but you may need to discontinue conversation if it becomes aggressive/assaultive/discriminatory.