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7 Strategies for Assertive Communication to Resolve Conflict

Categories: Assertiveness

In my last blog post, I discussed conflict resolution in the workplace. You need to be assertive to succeed at managing conflict.

This skillset is particularly important if you are in conflict with someone who has a very strong or aggressive personality.

Assertiveness is a phenomenal skill to learn. The ability to be assertive -- even with your manager or other higher level colleague – will give you the confidence to ask for what you need in all types of situations.

The trait of assertiveness has long been confused with aggressiveness, but they are coming from very different places. Aggressiveness comes from a place of fear, insecurity, and the belief that one must push others around to get what is needed.

Assertiveness, on the other hand, is based on healthy self-esteem and believing not just in your rights, but also those of others.

You will not let anyone walk all over you; you will stand up for yourself; you know you deserve to be treated fairly. Assertiveness requires the courage and commitment to speak up and ask for what you want or need, but the understanding that you might not get the desired outcome.

So, how do you go from wimpy to assertive?

Or, if you know you go on the attack and have a reputation for being aggressive, how can you channel that energy into assertiveness instead?

If you are an aggressive communicator, you will pay the price in garnering others’ resentment, payback attempts, and staff turnover.

Learning assertive communication skills will greatly enhance your leadership abilities and also your promote-ability.

If you are a passive communicator, you will pay the price in feeling resentful and manipulated, intimidated and shut-down. You might blame these feelings on whomever you believed caused them, but each time you don’t act assertively your personal power will further erode.

No one wants to be a doormat! No one respects doormats — including those that are getting walked on.
Assertiveness is far from easy and does require courage and determination. The good news is that it’s a skill that can be practiced and mastered.

Being assertive can boost self-confidence and create win-win communication that leaves both parties feeling good about themselves, whether or not each one got exactly what was asked for.

Here’s my 7-step training session for assertiveness communication:

1. Script it! Is there something you need to say, but you can’t quite think of how to say it that won’t make things worse? Try scripting out your remarks, and practicing them with a friend or family member, just as if you were rehearsing the lines in a movie or play. (The other person can ad-lib or play devil’s advocate.)

2. Take some breathing time. If you are easily overwhelmed in the moment and agree to all kinds of things because you can’t say no, be prepared what to say in any possible workplace situation. A simple, “Let me think about it/check on it and I’ll get back to you,” gives you the breathing room you need to come up with an appropriately assertive response.

3. Practice offering your opinion. Many people are terrified of conflict or confrontation. Practice saying, “I have a somewhat different opinion. I believe that …” Say it even when there’s no conflict, because if this is difficult for you, the more you say it and realize no one is horrified, offended, or about to kill you, the easier it will become and the more confident you will be, too.

4. Use “I” statements like:
“I don’t want you to…”
“I’d prefer that you...”
“I want to…”
“I liked it when you said/did…”
“I’ve decided not to…”

5. Use simple statements clearly expressing your position or question.
“Would you...?”
“Let’s agree to disagree and move on.”Critical Communications: Strategies for Success
“I see we have different opinions. That’s fine. Let’s try and come to an agreement.”

6. Say one of these “Thanks, but...” statements:
“I’m going to pass.”
“That doesn’t work for me right now.”
“No thanks.”

7. Take assertiveness training or invest in coaching. I believe you will find it invaluable! BRODY’s “Move From Conflict to Resolution” training can help.

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