All articles in NSAC’s social anxiety blog are written by actual human beings, not artificial intelligence. Our authors are all mental health clinicians who have expertise in evidence-based treatment for social anxiety disorder, and who are affiliated with NSAC Regional Clinics and Associates.


Effective Communication Through Assertiveness

Social anxiety is often associated with low self-confidence in relationships. While treating the anxiety ultimately leads to increased self-confidence, the development effective social skills can also facilitate this process. Effective communication is one of the most importance social skills that contribute to developing and maintaining healthy relationships. Whether you are talking about your day or working through a disagreement, communication is the key to expressing your thoughts, your feelings and your needs. Depending on the nature of the relationship and the topic being discussed, effective communication can be challenging. For anxious individuals, this is especially true when the conversation requires confrontation around difficult subjects. Assertive communication is an effective way of expressing yourself that allows for consideration of the thoughts, feelings and needs of both you and the person with whom you are communicating. Learning how to communicate assertively can turn this challenging confrontations into productive conversations and lead to increased self-confidence in relationships.

Aggression and Passivity: Ineffective Forms of Communication

Have you ever had a conversation with someone in which you felt completely disrespected, unheard or under-appreciated? The person you were speaking to took total control of the conversation, focusing solely on their needs while seeming care very little about your own? On the other hand, have you ever tried to communicate your needs to someone only to end up giving in completely to their needs with no consideration of your own? These two forms of communication, referred to as aggressive and passive respectively, are used often in daily conversation. Despite the frequency of their use, these forms of communication are typically not effective. Communication is a two (or more) person experience. In order for effective communication to occur the opinions and needs of both individuals must be considered. When they are not, it is likely that one or both participants will leave the conversation feeling poorly. While the “aggressor” may be satisfied, the recipient of the aggression will likely feel put down, dismissed or invalidated. Alternatively, when the passive individual neglects their own needs in a conversation, they are like to feel unsatisfied and unheard.


What is Assertive Communication?

In order for effective communication to occur, assertiveness is required. Assertiveness is defined as, “communication in which one expresses oneself in a direct and honest manner in interpersonal situations, while simultaneously respecting the rights and dignity of others.”

While it may seem that such a communication style would be easy, it is much more challenging than it appears. There are many factors that interfere with our ability to communicate assertively. Self-confidence, power-differentials, previously-learned communication styles, and anxiety are just some of the many challenges that can interfere with our ability to communicate assertively.

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