Assertive communication is straightforward as long as we know a few key distinctions that make all the difference in allowing us to be effective in having our voice heard when it really matters.
In this case study I`ll show you a tricky real life situation and how to deal with by adopting the outlook that makes assertive communication possible…
Needing To Be Assertive
I was talking to a neighbour this morning. Josh is a physical therapist. Last week he took on a new client, a rock star – one of the biggest names of the 1980`s.
Anyway, Josh has not been paid yet and after listening to the story it became clear how he created that result. Yes, he created this problem, it didn’t just happen. And there is a big lesson for all of us in what happened.
1. Be Strong, Be Definite
When Josh scheduled the appointments he was indecisive and vague about the price he was charging for his services. That rock star aura must have confused him! This is how he set up the problem which has now happened.
We all need to be strong and definite when it comes to both personal and business dealings that involve key issues. If you are getting your car fixed you need to be firm and persistent about establishing the price and the work involved BEFORE you hand over the car keys.
Whenever you are vague people will tend to do what they like. You`ll be kept waiting, be ignored and often feel like a second class citizen. Never fail to be definite and firm in expressing what you want and what you expect from others.
2. Be Assertive, Be Gentle
Josh procrastinated and failed to set clear parameters about what work he would do and how much charged and when he expected payment. He was being a nice guy and left all the details take care of themselves.
Unfortunately the details will not take care of themselves! We need to be assertive and take charge when it comes to important matters in our personal and business life. Waiting until later to discuss these issues allows small problems to get out of hand until we don`t know if we can even solve them.
I suggest asserting yourself in a gentle manner – smile, speak clearly and softly, and, pause for effect. Listen carefully to the other person and remain calm and centred. The way of gentleness is the way of power! If you stay calm and speak gently yet firmly it is very difficult for others to push you around.
3. Be Clear About Your Intentions
Josh had been watching videos of this rock star on YouTube. He showed me some of the videos. Understandably he was excited about meeting this guy let alone taking him on as a client. However this left him confused when it came to charging for his work. Maybe having someone famous as a client was good enough.
In important discussions at home or at work we need to be crystal clear about what we want to achieve. We must then stay focused and keep the conversation on track regardless of distractions or efforts by other people to change the topic of conversation.
Let`s say you are running out of time to schedule vacation time and a trip overseas. Hold in mind your ultimate goal. The goal for the conversation could be to mark off mutually agreed dates on the kitchen calendar. Now, that is a highly specific goal that you can aim for and achieve.
Avoid Getting Sidetracked
What often happens though is we get side tracked and end up talking about vacation destinations, travel sites and insurance options. Before you know it you`ve had a lively chat but no agreement on vacation dates.
Be very clear about your intentions for important discussions and you`ll see how quickly you can wrap up all that needs to be said. Clarity is essential. This focus gives you a definiteness of purpose that gives your words more power and authority. This in turn causes people to pay much more attention to you and so it is much easier to get agreement and finalise plans.
Whether you deal with rock stars or not, these three points are the key to assertive communication – talking in way that causes people to take you seriously when you need to be heard, when you need to say what needs to be said and get people to respond.