The Introvert’s Guide To Assertive Communication

One of the challenges that introverts face is their ability to communicate what they stand for. Oftentimes, it’s hard for them to express their ideas and opinions clearly. So, to help introverts become assertive communicators, I’ll list down the steps together with tips and tricks on how to do it.

For an introvert to be an assertive communicator, you need to learn and practice it. You can start by owning your statements by using the pronoun “I” whenever you give opinions, keeping eye contact, talking in a conversational tone, don’t exaggerate, being firm but not aggressive, listening attentively, and always using facts rather than your own judgment. 

Learning how to be an assertive communicator can be intimidating, especially for introverts who are not naturally like this. But I would like to encourage you to try and practice these things every day. You’ll surely make progress if you do it consistently.

But before we dive deeper into those ways, let us first review the things about communication.

two persons talking at New York city center

Three types of communication

There are three types of communication styles namely:

  • Passive
  • Assertive
  • Aggressive

Let’s take a quick look at their differences and why we think assertiveness is the most important.

Passive

  • Won’t say anything
  • Scared to express themselves
  • Don’t make eye contact
  • Has a soft or weak-sounded voice
  • Low self-esteem
  • Believes that their opinion doesn’t matter
  • Feeling guilty when saying “no” to others; can’t say no to others
  • Poor posture

Assertive

  • Speaks up for their opinions
  • Makes eye contact when speaking
  • Speaks in a firm but not arrogant voice
  • High self-esteem
  • Believes that everyone’s needs and ideas should be heard
  • Know when to say “No”; can say “No” to others but in a kind way
  • Good posture showing confidence

Aggressive

  • Shouts when they want attention
  • Judgmental both verbally and non-verbally
  • Lowers the self-esteem of others
  • Believes that their needs should be prioritized
  • Can say “No,” but in a harsh way
  • Posture invades others’ personal space

Example scenario

You’re a teacher, and your co-teacher asks you if you can take care of her 2 PM English class since she needs to attend a meeting, but you also have pending paperwork to finish for that day.

Passive: Sure, I can handle it.

Assertive: Unfortunately, I can’t make it since I also need to finish pending reports with deadlines today. Perhaps, other teachers are available at 2 PM.

Assertive: Obviously not. You need to handle time efficiently and stop bothering me because I am busy!”

Did you see the difference? If you did, you could say introverts currently fall under passive communicators. And we don’t want that! We don’t want you to keep saying yes and be hesitant to express what you need to say. 

So, let’s take a look at these tips on how you can be an assertive communicator.

Things you need to become an assertive communicator

Own your statements.

You can own your statement by using the pronoun “I” at the beginning of your sentence. 

By using “I,” you are indicating that you are the source of the information or opinion and that you are confident in what you are saying. Using first-person pronouns is an effective way to assert yourself and establish credibility. It will make it more difficult for others to dismiss your claims.

Likewise, using “I” can help establish a sense of personal ownership over what you’re saying, making your message more impactful.

Remember that assertiveness is about being able to express yourself clearly and confidently, so use I statements when it feels natural to do so.

Here are some examples.

  • I want to agree with you, but let’s also consider these factors.
  • I also think that way. However, let’s try to be fair this time.
  • Thanks for the invitation, but I need to rest for a day since I am not feeling well.

Keep eye contact

Eye contact shows confidence and interest, and it helps to build rapport. When you make eye contact with someone, they are more likely to respect you and listen to what you have to say.

It also takes part in respecting others who are talking. If you maintain eye contact with the person speaking, you’re clearly saying, 

  • I am listening to you.
  • I appreciate your opinion and what you’re saying.

For introverts, eye contact is tricky, and this is the one that you should work hard to practice. You don’t want to be misunderstood when talking; listening to someone and making eye contact can save you from this problem. 

If you fail to make eye contact, things will result in awkwardness. Try practicing eye contact in the mirror and pretend you’re talking to someone else. That could make you and the people around you uncomfortable.

Talk in a conversational tone.

One of the misunderstandings about introverts is that they talk too coldly or softly. When they want to say something, they either do not speak or talk a little.

But if you want to be an assertive communicator, you must go out and talk! And what do we mean by conversational tone?

When you speak in a conversational tone, you do the following.

  • You give out warm and welcoming responses or statements.
  • Keeping your voice relaxed and natural without sounding like you’re reciting a speech or reading from a script. 
  • You also want to be friendly and personable, showing interest in the conversation.

The use of a conversational tone plays a massive role in assertive communication. If you maintain this tone, you’ll make the people involved in that conversation comfortable and ignite healthy conversation. 

Admit it or not, not all conversations are healthy. Probably the reason is that each of us is a different communicator. This is what introverts struggle with the most, and this is something everyone needs to work hard for. 

Some of us are passive, while some are aggressive. But if we all strive to maintain a conversational tone in our conversations, we can indeed promote a positive environment.

Don’t exaggerate

We know that introverts rarely talk, and being exaggerated is something they don’t often do. But it is still a pleasant topic to discuss why you need to skip exaggeration if you want to be an assertive communicator.

In assertive communication, it’s not a good decision to leave responses that exaggerate. Exaggeration is when you overreact to things. It is when you make something intense even though it is not. Here are some examples.

  • You are always like that!
  • You never did a good job.
  • You are consistently bugging me, and that makes me mad.
  • You’re losing a sense of personal space, and you’re not learning!

Words like always and never are samples of exaggeration. Remember that in assertive communication, we want to speak for ourselves and express what we have inside. But it’s unacceptable if you overreact, and it won’t do any good either. That will fall under aggressive communication, and that’s not our goal here.

Assertive communicators only tell the truth objectively.

Be firm but not loud.

If you’re an introvert, you know how soft you talk when asked to speak up. In the intensity of 1-10, how would you rate your voice when you speak?

To be an assertive communicator is to be heard. But how can you make your voice firm without sounding loud? If your answer is below 7, then it’s something you need to work out.

Here are some things you can apply to improve your voice.

  • Speak slowly and steadily. Don’t rush!
  • Utilize voice exercises such as reciting a poem regularly while putting emphasis and energy on the right words.
  • Record your voice. Listen to it and figure out how you can improve your pacing, delivery, tone, and pronunciation.
  • Learn the right pauses when talking.
  • Drink well and eat foods healthy for your voice. Don’t drink cold water.

All these are important in keeping a well-projected voice. If you can’t project your voice well, then you won’t also sound firm during the conversation. Remember that having a firm voice is different from shouting.

Firmness when talking also means that you know what you’re saying. And this will lead us to the next topic.

Listen attentively

Listening is a crucial part of communication. How can you reply if you don’t know the context?

As I said earlier, firmness also talks about your power to express your ideas and opinions confidently. This is all about how wise you can relate to the conversation. You must stand your word, and you should know hundred percent what you’re talking about.

Since introverts don’t interact as often as extroverts, they might have difficulty coping. But I would like to reiterate that if you know how to listen attentively, you can surely manage to keep up with the conversation. 

Here’s how you can improve your listening skills!

  • Maintain eye contact with the speaker.
  • Empathize with the situation and the speaker.
  • Be sensitive, observant, and alert, but not that intense.
  • Keep your eyes close to the nonverbal language of the speaker, such as their body language and tone.
  • Aim to give feedback.
  • Postpone your early judgment and just focus on the speaker

I put it in the latter part even though it needs to be the first step because I know introverts are already good listeners. They’re also sensitive and very alert, so this is an easy task.

Use facts rather than your own judgment. 

I know it’s easy to get caught off guard by your emotions and judge the situation when you’re in a conversation. But remember, assertive communicators, don’t do this impulsively!

You need to be more objective to be a successful, assertive communicator. You must see the situation through the lens of everyone and not just yourself. But how can you get the facts you need to kickstart your response in a crisis?

  • Assess the situation and the problem, if there is one.
  • Don’t raise a statement, claim, or solution that only benefits you.
  • You can ask the people involved in the conversation regarding the matter.
  • Lay down the pros and cons of the possible solutions.

I know I also mentioned it earlier, but there is also no reason to exaggerate if you want to solve it or say something. Just do it objectively for a healthier conversation.

This is also one of the strengths of introverts and something that can help you become an assertive communicator. Introverts are not impulsive; I know you think a lot before speaking. Keep doing this because you can use this skill to become a powerful communicator!

Situations where assertive communication is a must

Although it’s ideal to use assertive communication whenever you speak, there are still severe situations where it is a must!

Besides, if the conversation is just going smoothly, then there’s no need to be assertive. But when do you need to be assertive as an introvert? Here are just some real-life situations.

  • Disciplining and teaching kids, especially on the topic of bullying.
  • Brainstorming during a work meeting.
  • Solving workplace problems.
  • Dealing with smokers.
  • Dealing with phone solicitors.
  • Unwanted requests from friends and family members.

Rooting for you as a successful, assertive communicator!

There are many reasons why being an assertive communicator is beneficial. Here are just some!

  • Creates a positive image of yourself.
  • Boosts self-confidence and self-esteem.
  • You learn to respect what others have to say.
  • Leads to healthier relationships.
  • Decreased anxiety and stress.
  • Effective communication skills
  • You learn to fight for what you believe is right for you.
  • Greater self-awareness.

So, suppose you’re an introvert who wants to improve yourself in communicating and interacting with others. In that case, assertive communication could be the key! As you can see, it has so many benefits that can help you improve your way of living and relationships with others.

Plus, you’ll learn how to give up those fears holding you back from enjoying your life through assertive communication. Assertive communication doesn’t only promote healthy conversations, but it can also lead you to a healthier life in general!

We are rooting for you! May you express yourself well and stand up for what you believe from now on! It’ll just take a little practice daily, and you’ll surely become an assertive communicator slowly and steadily!

Garo Kotchounian

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