Assertive Communication

Assertive Communication

We’ve talked a lot about building your social support network in this module, but what do you do with it once you’ve built a supportive crew? To help both you and your loved one communicate effectively, assertive and clear communication is important. So often we assume that others know what we need from them, when in reality, we may have to be candid and forthright to have our needs met. Remember, our people aren’t mind readers.

For example, perhaps you need your friends to understand why you won’t be joining them for a night out at the bar, or you need your parents to stop storing alcohol in their house for a while. These are important boundaries to set; you’re not lesser than or weak for not being able to “manage” these situations. In alcohol-free living, it’s imperative that we understand our limits and communicate them to those who can support us. While this may not feel like the most natural way to communicate for you, it can be a learned skill.

What’s Your Natural Communication Style?

Passive: you act indifferent, try not to inconvenience others. Speaking up is difficult for you, and expressing your needs does not come naturally. “No” feels like a dirty word to you.

Aggressive: you speak loudly, and are sometimes overbearing. You have no problem demanding what you need from people, but sometimes people react to you negatively. Listening to others is difficult for you.

Passive aggressive: the hybrid. Not speaking your mind leads to resentment, and you often act on this resentment in roundabout ways. You’re more comfortable expressing your feelings with body language than verbal language.

Assertive: you’re able to clearly express your wants and needs, but in a way that doesn’t alienate others. You want both sides to win, and often think of a solution that benefits everyone. Speaking in “I” statements (like “I need”) comes naturally.