An effective communicator has the five qualities and interpersonal skills identified in Table 1. Some of the particular communication strategies that manage the interaction and achieve a balance that satisfies both parties are assertion, ‘1’ statements and feedback. By using these strategies well you are able to develop the five interpersonal skills–confidence, immediacy, interaction management, expressiveness and other-orientation.
Assertive behaviour acknowledges your rights as an individual and the rights of other people. This is the ideal attitude to have at work and in our everyday lives. Assertive people tend to demonstrate open, expressive and relaxed behaviour. They are able to build honest, fulfilling relationships with others.
Two assertive people can express different points of view. The assertive person wants to be heard and acknowledged. This does not necessarily mean winning. It means being accepted and treated as an equal-respecting the rights of others and being respected in turn. Two assertive people can accept that each has a different opinion or perspective.
Assertive leaders are able to manage others without feeling the need to manipulate or to be aggressive, because they recognise the rights of other workers. The assertive follower recognises the right of the manager or leader to make reasonable requests and to expect the job to be done. Such people feel comfortable with themselves and with others in the Organisation. They get on with the job in a manner that satisfies their own needs and the needs of the Organisation.
When the occasion demands, assertive people can disagree, stand up for their rights and present alternative points of view without being intimidated or putting the other person down. Assertive people realise the type of behaviour suited to a particular situation and recognise when their own behaviour is assertive, aggressive or non-assertive.
An aggressive person may have to win at all costs. This means dominating and, on occasion, humiliating others, even to the point of ignoring a suggestion that provides the best solution simply because it is someone else’s solution. The rights of others to participate, enjoy a sense of satisfaction and receive acknowledgement for their work are ignored. An aggressive person is often in conflict with others.
Submissive people are unable to assert or promote a point of view. They find it difficult to lead others as their style of relating means submission to another’s point of view, even to the extent of ignoring their own rights as an individual. When unpleasant situations arise, a submissive person tends to avoid them, leaving someone else with the problem.