I want you to picture a turtle, tiger and owl. Out of these three animals which do you feel has the best communication style? Now, before you anser let's look at some characteristics with the turtle. He hides, avoids and is fearful of the rejection or the anger of others. When we look at the tiger we see characteristics of rude, bossy and controlling of others. Lastly, we have the owl who has a disposition of wise, calm and appears to be more observant than reactive. Now...which animal did you choose as more affective? If you chose the owl, then great choice!
I like to use these animals as examples of non-assertive, aggressive and assertive communication. There are goals when it comes to each of these styles. The Non-Assertive behavior's goal is to play it safe and be "liked". The Aggressive behavior goal is to be right and to prove it! And then we have the Assertive behavior which has a goal to express yourself honestly and kindly. Take a moment and evaluate your communication style with various individuals in your life. Do you find that you merge between all three styles depending on the oppositive individual you are conversing with? If you notice this pattern, the first thing is to not judge or be too hard on yourself when you notice inconsistencies or areas you want to change. The beautiful thing about evualtion of self is that it allows you to make changes that make you a better YOU! Let's jump to the end game of what we want in communication style. The goal is to be like that owl. To be assertive in behavior and interactions no matter who you have as the opposite individual across from you. My challenge to the readers of this article is to study and reflect on all of the characteristics of an assertive communicator. For instance, some examples are:
refrains from verbal or physical force
uses "I" statements
sensistive and caring to both self and others
balances personal rights with responsibilities to others
accepting of self and others
expresses feelings tactfully
Is more concerned with being kind than right
mature, tactfully direct, open and honest
feels secure, confident and loving
(Thank you to Judith Belmont, MS for this list)
Good luck, and happy communication learning.
SISILY RAINEY, LPC