Assertive Communication – Building Healthy Relationships

by Nov 21, 2014

Building healthy relationships needs strong communication skills

Assertive communication is the ability to express both positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open, honest and direct way. It recognizes our own position and rights whilst still respecting the positions of others.  More importantly it is key to building healthy relationships in our teams and workplaces. It allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people. And it fosters the constructive handling of conflict or disagreement to arrive at  a mutually satisfactory conclusion. It can help us overcome and handle more easily difficult and stressful situations with family, friends and co-workers.  Being assertive also helps boost one’s self-esteem and earn respect from others.

Why building healthy relationships is important

If you connect with any statement mentioned below, then using assertive communication in building healthy relationships can make your work life easy.

#1 I have hard time disagreeing with the people whose views I suppose are wrong.

#2 I find it difficult to say no and I often end up taking on unwanted tasks.

#3 I worry if I refuse to do something, then people won’t like me.

#4 It is tough for me if I have to speak and share my opinion on a topic I do not agree with.

#5 I understand I need to promote myself at work but I don’t know how. In order to address these issues, you need to be assertive.

Need help building healthy relationships in work? Check out this coaching programme. 

How can we be assertive?

We can always learn to be assertive in certain situations to avoid stressful confrontations.

  • If you’d want to approach someone about certain behaviors you’d like to see changed, make sure you stick to the factual descriptions of what those behaviors entail and how they may have upset you.
  • Avoid labeling and judging their behavior. Simply state the facts.
  • Use “I” in your descriptions, rather than “You”, as the latter comes out as a judgment or attack of the other party and therefore puts them on the defensive. Starting your message with “I”, shows less blame and shows more ownership of your reactions as it emphasizes the focus on how YOU feel and how YOU are affected by their behaviors.

 “I waited 15 minutes for you to arrive at our meeting. I feel disrespected and frustrated when you are late.  It is also a waste of my time “  

  • Make sure your body posture reflects confidence. Stand or sit up straight, make eye contact and relax.
  • Do not assume to know any of the other party’s motives, even if you think they may be negative. Simply describe them in a clear and straightforward manner.
  • It is always important to understand the other party’s point of view, so always listen and do not be afraid to ask questions. Use attentive listening skills “help me understand” “I just want to be certain I have understood correctly”
  • Make sure your tone is firm, but pleasant.
  • Always know what you want before asking somebody. Don’t mumble or talk in low voice. If you find yourself mumbling, take a time out and just take a deep breath and come to the conversation later.
  • Use body language to emphasize your words. For example, if you have to be direct with someone and you mumble while staring at floor, you may not convey your message effectively.
  • Have a back bone. When you disagree with someone, don’t pretend to agree. Stick to what you believe is right.
  • Before you refuse, ask for clarification, you need to understand their point and you should get a clear idea on what is being asked and why.
  • If the other people are able to offer new information or reason which may seem reasonable, then it is okay to change your opinion.

 Why is assertive communication important?

Assertive communication is based on mutual respect, and is therefore a diplomatic communication style. Being assertive shows that you are aware of the position of others and are willing to work on resolving conflict . It also shows respect for yourself because you are  willing to express your own thoughts and feelings in a transparent and constructive way. It avoids a downward spiral into toxicity.

Balance is Important

Being overly assertiveness can lead to being perceived as aggressive, which is not conducive to healthy relationships.

Sadly women who do speak up and out and therefore behave against  the age-old stereotype of being submissive and collaborative,  run the risk of the aggressive label.  They find themselves in the double bind of being damned if they do speak out and left behind if they don’t. How do you feel about speaking up and out? Do you get it right

Contact 3Plus if you organisation needs support building healthy relationships.

hriley Subscriber
Holly Riley is a professional content writer and blogger from the UK. Her articles have appeared in a number of e-zine sites, including,, and
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