No relationship is perfect, and there’s nothing wrong with not being perfect. Being imperfect as we are, means there is room to improve and learn how to be more assertive. Let’s see what is assertive communication.
One of the most effective ways to make that improvement is to communicate more assertively. Both men and women can benefit from making this change, although it’s more common for women to be less assertive. Being up front about your needs and your wants is the best way to talk, because if you let things build up and expect your partner to just pick up on them, it’s a recipe for resentment and anger. In this post, we will go over some of the benefits of assertive communication in detail with examples to help you see exactly how it can help you and your relationship.
1. Assertive communication means cultivating clarity
Communicating assertively means you will be clear about things that are bothering you or things that you want to change. Too often, instead of explaining exactly what we want, we tend to hide our true intentions or avoid talking about the issue. You might feel that you are being too greedy or are acting out of your place if you are clear about what you want to happen. But the opposite is true: you need to feel comfortable enough to speak about your needs. If there is any reason that you do not feel safe and comfortable enough to speak your mind, then you should think about why that is the case.
The default should be clear communication. Both you and your partner should be in the habit of saying what you mean and ensuring that the other knows what you are talking about so you are always on the same page. If, for some reason, that isn’t the case, then cultivating clarity through assertive communication will significantly improve the relationship. In the best case scenario, you’ll both learn to be more clear about yourselves, and that means you can both be more attentive and focused on each other.
It might also be the case that your partner is resistant to clarity. That is a bad sign for the relationship. There is no reason for anyone to prefer less clarity. There are some people who will take time to get used to the idea and the habit of being clear, but they should at least be interested. If your partner is dismissive when you suggest greater clarity, think about why. After all, it should only benefit the two of you. It could be a sign that they might not want to put more effort into the relationship or that they don’t think clarity is important, meaning that they don’t place a priority on knowing your needs.
2. Speak up! Don’t hold onto concerns
One big problem that comes up in relationships of all ages is that one partner or the other has a tendency to hold onto concerns or problems, letting them build up into resentment. This resentment, in turn, then boils over and becomes a serious concern. If you have experienced this cycle as either partner, then you know how damaging it can be. Fortunately, being assertive is a means to short-circuit the whole thing. Frequent and assertive communication acts like a pressure release valve, allowing you to get things off your chest before they can fester into more serious problems.
Imagine a possible scenario where you become irritated that your partner doesn’t demonstrate an interest in you by asking how your day went. For many people, the default option is not to say anything when you first notice this. Over time, however, the longer you go without bringing it up, the more of a problem it becomes. You become more and more upset each time it happens and you may even start to believe that your partner is doing it on purpose. After all, it is so obvious to you that they are doing it. However, in reality, these things tend to be much less self-apparent than we think.
In all likelihood, you could have avoided a lot of resentment by simply speaking up at the first opportunity. Assertive communication would have defused this problem before it become serious, and you would have the opportunity to talk to your partner about something that mattered to you. The key here is that assertiveness means speaking up in the moment, not letting things linger in your mind until they are much worse.
3. How to be more assertive: Practice proactive openness
Openness is similar to, but not the same thing as clarity. To be open is to be transparent about what you are thinking. Clarity is speaking in a way that the other person understands. When you are open, you do not hold anything back. Traditionally, we think of openness as a reactive characteristic: the willingness to answer questions honestly and fully, for example. But openness should also be proactive, and that is exactly what assertive communication is.
When you are open, you can be forthright about concerns when you have them. Point #2 was about doing this quickly, but it is also important to do it fully. Don’t just say that something is bothering you. Explain why this is the case in detail so that your partner understands where you are coming from. This is not just about problems, either. You should also be open about aspirations and plans. Just as it is bad to hide something that irritates you, you should not hide things like your inclination to search for a new job or the fact that you do or do not want children. These big-picture questions don’t need to be settled right away, but that doesn’t mean you don’t talk about them. Let your partner know your position in such a way that you do not need to have a discussion right then, but you do want to inform them.
Assertive communication is not about overriding what the other person has to say, but it is about being honest with yourself and your partner. By holding things back, you are only making things harder down the road.
Solidify the foundations of an already good relationship
The bottom line is that you can have a better relationship if you work on it together. Again, that is not to say that your current relationship is not good. However, adding some assertive communication can solidify the foundations of an already good relationship and make it stronger. By being more direct with yourself and each other, you and your partner will be better able to handle what life throws at you as a team. In many cases, this assertiveness is a struggle because you need to overcome your own internal barriers to communicating in this way. It might fly in the face of how you usually communicate, but that novelty is all the more reason to use it. It’s a powerful signal that you have something meaningful to say that your partner should pay attention to and act on it.
If you liked this article, share it with your friends and see what they have to say! Feel free to sound off in the comments below about anything you didn’t like or that resonated particularly with you. Share your stories about assertive communication or share tips about how to do it. Remember, we’re all in this together!