There are basically 3 types or styles of communication in the dating world, and with people in general: aggressive, passive, and assertive. In aggressive communication, wants, needs, and feelings are expressed openly and clearly, but at the expense of the feelings of others. Aggressive communication tactics include yelling, shouting, glaring, hands on hips, table pounding, etc. Aggressive tactics are another way of saying bullying tactics. Passive communication tactics, on the other hand, are basically the exact opposite of aggressive tactics. Passive communicators talk civilly, respectfully, and softly. They also only express part of what they want, need, and feel, or withhold themselves altogether. Passive communicators rarely get their needs met and often build resentment at the poor treatment they often receive.
Assertive communication, on the other hand, is an effective balance between aggressive and assertive communication. With assertive communication, wants, needs, and feelings are expressed openly and clearly, but in a civil, respectful fashion to lessen offense. Some situations call for a more aggressive or more passive approach. However, when dealing with others, assertive communication is usually the best approach, most of the time. So, how does one learn to communicate more “assertively”?
Assertive Communication Skills:
Tone of Voice and Non Verbal Communication: An assertive tone of voice has enough firmness to be taken seriously, but is respectful and civil enough to demonstrate that you are being considerate. Assertive body language includes a respectful facial expression, as well as an open (non-crossed) arms. Posture is upright as well. To practice your assertive tone of voice and body language, record some mock conversations and record this on your cell phone. Then watch the recordings. Become aware and make adjustments accordingly. Get and stay in your assertiveness character.
Using “I Statements”: Instead of starting your sentences with “you” or “we”, use more I-statements. Starting your sentence with an “I” shows that you own your wants, needs, and feelings. Examples of I-statements include “I need you to please___”, “I’d like you to please___”, “I’d appreciate it if you would please___”, “I feel___”, “I wish___”, etc. Using such I-statements will help minimize the other ever feeling bossed around or blamed, which puts the other on the defensive.
Listen Well: When the other is talking, work to stay in the listener’s role until the other is done (as long as they are talking to you civilly). Use good eye contact, an interested facial expression, and use tracking comments (like “uh huh”, “mmm hmm”). Eliminate distractions and don’t interrupt. Give periodic validation, empathy, understanding, and agreement. Look and act patient and interested.
Eliminate Aggressive Habits: Be aware of your aggressive tactics to lessen and remove them out of your communication habits. Most aggressiveness consists of a loss of control of one’s tone of voice: yelling, screaming, threatening, biting sarcasm, patronizing, etc. Such tones will offend, repel, and create resistance and defensiveness. If you are aware, you can catch yourself and adjust accordingly. Work to eliminate threatening or closed body language as well, including scowls, tense facial expressions, and any other bad habits.
Eliminate Passive Habits: Become aware of your passive tendencies and work to eliminate them. Choose to have your voice heard. Don’t assume. Move away from hinting. Notice when you only partially expressing yourself. Notice when you regret not having your voice heard. Stop assuming the other will somehow read your mind and attend to your needs is self-defeating. Notice, adjust, and change.
Assertive Communication Skills Training Resources:
Your Perfect Right by Robert Alberti and Michael Emmons
The Assertive Woman by Stanlee Phelps and Nancy Austin
Tongue Fu by Sam Horn
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
People Skills by Robert Bolton
Learn to speak assertively to make your life better, easier, and get along with others. This will help you not only in your dating life, but all of your relationships in general. Think of assertiveness as a skill to learn and develop, rather than a personality trait. You can do it. And you can have succeed in the dating world as well. Because “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11
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About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to email@example.com).