After coaching thousands of entrepreneurs and employees, I’ve concluded that there are a number of factors that get in the way of becoming an assertive communicator. Among the top are a lack of self-awareness to discern that your communication style is a barrier to success, reluctance to ask for help, trouble asking for what you want, resistance to new ideas, and masking communication incompetence through text, email, or social media. Let’s look more closely at each.
Lack of Self-Awareness
As a part of my coaching services, I teach clients the art of negotiation. It doesn’t matter if you are a spouse, parent, employee, entrepreneur, manager, or friend—you are always negotiating. Negotiating is the process by which ideas and desires are shared with the intention of coming to a mutually satisfying agreement. When done properly with active, self-aware participants, both parties happily move for- ward, feeling valued and appreciated for who they are and the assets they bring to the relationship. This ideal situation happens when both parties understand assertive communication, but unfortunately, it is far from the norm.
Reluctance to Ask for Help
I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings, “Fake it until you make it” and “Act like you know.” They convey the message that it is better to pretend to know than to ask questions that expand your knowledge. This mind-set paralyzes your growth and leads to major mistakes, which can cause severe damage to your reputation and prospects for success. Not knowing how to do something is not a weakness. It takes a great sense of self to say, “This is a challenge. I need your help. Will you show me how to do this?”
Trouble Asking for What You Want
Nearly every client I’ve ever coached has been reluctant to express what they want in the negotiation process. For fear of being rejected or appearing greedy or needy, they downplay their real needs and desires and engage in an internal battle against their own sense of worthiness.
The reason for this internal struggle is a lack of confidence and clarity of their value in the relationship. They see the value of the other person as being greater. Whenever this happens, the other person will sense trepidation, and instead of continuing the interchange, will realize they have the upper hand and may use power-play language to move the conversation to a quick close.
Resistance to New Ideas
Making the decision to change isn’t enough. You have to be open to the process and exible in your thinking to bring about change. Wanting to change but being unwilling to consider alternate ways to get there can be quite challenging for some. For instance, my client Linda came to me with the expectation that I could help her expand her message and increase her income. She had what she believed to be a great idea that would help change the direction of health care. She was in search of a partnership with a major corporation.
Although I thought what she had to o er was of great value, my experience told me that her product was too risky and controversial for a company to take on. When I told her my perspective and o ered her di erent ways to reach her vision, she became o ended and decided to hire a di erent coach.
Nine months later, Linda called me and said, “After spinning my wheels for months and spending thousands of dollars, I need your help. I’d like to pursue one of the options you discussed with me previously.”
Masking Communication Incompetence
Rather than working on their conversational skills, many people avoid them entirely by resorting to electronic and other written communications. The reasons are varied: “I don’t like to sound like a salesperson, so I do my marketing by email”; “I don’t know how that person is going to respond, and I don’t want to be put on the spot, so I’ll communicate by text”; or “I want to present the best version of myself, and I can’t do that in person.” Text messages, emails, and social-media platforms are opportunities to escape the challenges of face-to-face dialogue.
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Copyrights 2018 S. Renee Smith, www.srenee.com. For speaking or coaching services call 888-588-0423.