Health & Happiness: Improving Communication

Health & Happiness: Improving Communication

We often think of spring as a time for growth and new beginnings. Part of personal growth is often improving how we communicate with others. Using an assertive communication style can lead to more positive interactions with others, allowing our relationships to flourish. Remember that being assertive is not the same as being aggressive.

Here are some tools to use to prepare for difficult conversations.

Be clear about the situation. Remember that your family and friends can’t read your mind. They may not have realized that they said or did something that bothered you.

Describe how you feel, without placing blame on the other person. For example, you could say “I worry when you come home late” instead of saying “it’s so rude when you don’t call to say you’re going to be late.” Explain your reactions so the other person will be receptive to what you have to say.

Approach the situation calmly and set the tone for an open conversation. Don’t assume that the other person will get upset.

Stay present and use active listening skills. Make sure you understand what the other person is saying; don’t just wait for your turn to talk. Try to understand the other person’s perspective instead of responding defensively.

Be open to compromise. Think about working together to come up with a solution that works for everyone involved.

If you generally use a more passive communication style, it may feel challenging to be more assertive. Counseling can be an opportunity practice assertive communication.

Camille Keith, MS, NCC is an LPC Intern under the supervision of Tara Sanderson PsyD, and provides individual counseling to help you clarify your values and maintain your sense of self in relationships. For more information, call (971) 295-1547 or visit