10 Commandments of Assertive Communication

In our day-to-day interaction with people, clear communication is necessary if we want to be effective and efficient in our work.  Many times, lack of assertiveness brings out misunderstandings when we do not ask the right questions or do not ask for clarification for fear of being seen as ‘slow’.

The 10 commandments of assertive communication is a must if you want to grow in assertiveness, be effective at work and be happy with your life.

1.  Prepare for a meeting – know the agenda, what you need to say and be ready for any questions.

Judiciously prepare for any meeting whether it is a quick update or a serious sales presentation. Treat a meeting like a game- strategize and have some fun.

2.  Prepare for the impromptu conversations by getting ready with frequently asked questions.

You cannot always say, “I will check”.  Find out what are the frequently asked questions by your boss or by some important team member or even by anyone.  You can save a lot of time and your own reputation by getting them handy in your mind.

Remember, if you can answer easy questions, you can concentrate on thinking about the more difficult ones.

3.  When you need to discuss a burning issue (personal matter, career-related or some trouble) ask for an appropriate time or set an appointment when discussing to allow focus on the subject.

Regardless whether it is official or personal, it’s best to ask.  If it’s a short but critical question, ask : “Can I talk to you for a minute?”.  It’s easier to say what is difficult to do so when you have set an appointment or asked for some time to discuss. There’s no turning back.

4.  Speak to contribute facts without prompting.

Don’t talk only when asked.  Offer information. Ask relevant questions. Listen to what is being discussed and be interested.  Only then can you participate.

Push yourself to participate. Never allow yourself to be in the shadow just because you feel all that is required has been spoken of. Contribute.

5.  Express your feelings or opinion about an issue but respect others’ opinion.

Do not get mummed if someone objects or rejects your recommendations. Respect the opinion by saying “ I respect that you have a different opinion…”

If there is a need to express an unfair comment, be mindful about your response if needed and do so in a calm and careful manner, “I’m sorry but I think it would not be fair to say …”

6. Finish your statement and do not be intimidated by interruptions. 

You have the right to be heard.  If someone is interrupting unnecessarily or being rude, remind in a calm manner: “Excuse me, let me finish what I am saying.”

Do not be discouraged to continue what you were saying if interrupted and the subject jumped elsewhere. Get it back, if important or worth it.

7.  Say ‘I do not understand’, “Can you repeat again?” or “No” when situation requires.

If you notice, even the smartest and most brilliant people also ask questions.  They also say so when they do not understand. In fact, that is why they turn out to be the best performers and most admired, because they get what they need and want to know.

8. Validate a complex matter by repeating what was said to you, in your own words.

Most effective teachers ask their students to repeat a certain subject just discussed to check if it was understood properly.  In a similar manner, if the speaker does not ask the question, you ask.  By repeating what was said in your own words, you get a better chance of having understood the matter well. You can even say “Let me summarize…” or “Let me re-cap what you said…”

9.  Do not take a yes or no for an answer.  Try to confirm by asking a few more questions.

Some people can just nod to say they understand.  You and I would have experienced that a Yes or No does not always mean as such. You know who does this often.  Then something goes wrong and you take the blame. Do not take the risk.  Clarify what you mean and spell out the implications.

10.  Do not give up easily when proving a point. Repeat or rephrase your points.

When a customer insists on something that cannot be done, the sales representative explains why and comes up with a second or third point.  When someone says no to you or dismisses your point, give it one to two more tries.  Be persistent if even for the sake of it.  You will never know what comes out the more you try.


Strive to practice these not only on highly important matters but do apply them in other work matters less critical or even in a casual encounter.  When you are faithful to these commandments in little things, you will be able to muster strength to face the bigger things.

Have you been faithful to the 10 Commandments of Assertive Communication?  Which ones are your pitfalls?

PHOTO CREDIT: thetaxhaven


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One Response to 10 Commandments of Assertive Communication

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