Many times a family caregiver hears that she needs to be more assertive when she communicates, but that can feel as if she's being told to be more aggressive. What is the difference between the two and are you mistaking the two for each other? If so, this information can help you learn the distinctions so that you can start using assertive communication properly.
Aggressive Communication Is Harsh and Confrontational
When someone is communicating aggressively with you, it likely feels harsh and confrontational to you. That's how others feel when you're communicating aggressively with them, so it should be no surprise that this type of communication tends to escalate situations. You're also far less likely to get help when you're asking for it from an aggressive, confrontational standpoint.
Assertive Communication Is Different
Many people make the mistake of believing that assertive communication is just as negative as aggressive communication can be. When you're simply being assertive, you're still respecting the wants and needs of the other people involved, but you're expressing your own needs and wants openly and honestly. There is give and take with this type of communication and there's no subterfuge or attack involved.
Assertive Communication Is about Standing up for Yourself
At its core, assertive communication is about standing up for yourself, your needs, and your wants. You express yourself with "I" statements instead of implying blame with "you" statements. "Should" is part of guilting and manipulating and therefore doesn't come up. This isn't about making the other person feel bad, either. You're simply making sure that you're expressing yourself calmly, lovingly, and with respect for everyone involved.
It Takes Practice
This is a communication skill that doesn't come naturally to most people. You'll need to reframe how you think in order to reframe your communications. You'll need to practice in order to reinforce what you're learning. If you're still having significant trouble, consider talking to a therapist or a counselor in order to develop the skills that you need.
The longer that you use assertive communication skills, the more you'll realize how much more effective they are. Your interactions with friends and family will go much more smoothly.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Elsie, MI, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Lansing. Call today: 517-332-9953.