These were some of the questions I explored with a team in an assertive communication program recently. But it’s the post-session I want to share about.
After I left I was reflecting on my journey with assertive communication and the fact that I used to be painfully shy!
Up until my early 20’s I was so shy I prayed my teachers wouldn’t ask me a question at school or university – and god forbid they did because I would go purple! Not just red. A deep hot purple colour that started at my chest and worked its way up my neck and up my face to my scalp. This was offset by my nearly pure white/blonde hair and incredibly pale skin.
At the time I couldn’t articulate this as a mindset, but I got to a point where I just decided that enough was enough. I realised people didn’t know what I knew or what I didn’t or what I was thinking and what I wasn’t. So I figured as long as I remain honest and straight I’d have a go at being confident and assertive.
Notice I said I’d have a go? That’s because I also learned around this time that communicating assertively is a skill and that anyone can learn it.
It certainly didn’t happen straight away and it wasn’t a miracle. I still suffered the ‘blush’ but it happened less and less. Over time it just went as I grew more and more confident.
Now, I speak in front of people and to new people nearly every day. It’s my job facilitating, presenting, speaking to thousands of people a year!
I changed my self-talk (my mindset) and when I failed, I tried again. I didn’t retreat or hide.
If you struggle with assertive communication please read and remind yourself every day, in every awkward or confronting moment:
It’s mindset. You have to first and foremost believe you can change and then start changing your language.
Here are two books I highly recommend around changing mindsets.
Want to change your language around when being asked to do something that you can’t do or don’t want to do? Here’s a sentence starter.
“Thank you for thinking of me <in this situation – to do this task – insert the request>, I am happy to explore solutions with you, but I cannot <insert action – take on this project, stay back, go out etc>. What are other solutions you have thought of?”
Remember, no apology, no guilt. Thanking them, shows you believe they are offering you a gift of confidence in you; telling them you are happy to explore alternatives, suggests you are kind and won’t leave them entirely in the lurch and asking an open question at the end puts them back in the driver seat for solutions that do not involve you!
Assertive and action-oriented!
Assertive communication is one of our many workshops for building Success Culture. Here’s what a recent participant had to say about it.