If so, you are not alone. Many people struggle to communicate with others because they are overly aggressive in their communication style, even when they don’t mean to be. Many people don’t even realize when they are aggressive! Aggression makes it difficult to have mutual respect with others, complicates finding solutions to problems, and encourages others to be opposing or resentful. Some common factors of aggression include:
What we really want to strive for is assertiveness. Assertiveness means that you are capable of standing up for yourself and expressing your feelings or needs in a way that communicates your point of view without disrespecting others. You are able to have an open and honest conversation about how you feel without becoming intimidating, threatening, or escalating the situation. In addition, communicating in an assertive way strives to be open to strategies that will help resolve the issue and breeds trust and respect with others.
Benefits of practicing assertiveness over aggression:
6 ways to reduce aggression and increase effective self-assertion:
The main goal of “I statements” is using “I” to communicate how you feel, instead of “You” which comes across as blaming.
Often when we are angry with people, we lose empathy for them or become disconnected from the things that we appreciate in them. The “happy sandwich” is an easy 3-step process that will not only help others take in what we are saying, but will also help maintain empathy, decrease frustration, and stay connected with the greater purpose—resolving the conflict!
1. Begin by saying a positive statement or something that you appreciate in the person.
2. Using an “I statement,” express your feelings or needs.
3. Complete your statement by going back to another positive statement, such as reminding the person that you care or telling the something that you appreciate in them.
Using the example above, it may look like this: “I think it is great that you cleaned out the garage for us yesterday. However, I am feeling really overwhelmed with the house, and wonder if you can help with the kitchen today? I love you and want us to be able to relax and enjoy our weekend together.”
Remember, one of the goals here is to decrease conflict. By using this strategy, we are encouraging the conflict to be resolved, instead of feeding the anger, blame, or problem at hand.
For many people, effective communication and managing aggression is very challenging, and is an ongoing source of frustration. The age-old saying that “Practice makes perfect” is a necessary mindset when it comes to this topic. Every time you face an issue, you have an opportunity to practice being more assertive and less aggressive. Also, remember that these strategies can be used in any type of relationship: With your partner, children, family, colleagues, or anyone else that you interact with. By increasing your self-assertion, and thereby decreasing aggression, you can create a climate in your life that promotes happiness, love, peace, and connection with others—instead of anger, stress, conflict, guilt, and isolation. Which do you choose?
All the best,
Dr. Sarah Ray
Advanced Health Care
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