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“I Just Want to be Heard!” How to Communicate our Emotions Assertively and Effectively

“You always make me feel so…”

Have you ever found yourself saying these words (or even hearing these words) in an attempt to just have your feelings understood or heard?  What is usually the outcome of that conversation?  

For a lot of people, these types of conversations typically lead to feelings of frustration, defeat and even hurt feelings (for all involved) because the speaker feels unheard and the listener feels attacked, blamed or like they’re being accused.  So then how are we supposed to communicate our emotions effectively?  By using assertive communication skills.

There is a HUGE difference between communicating with assertiveness vs. communicating in an accusing way.  Communicating assertively means expressing our point of view clearly, while still respecting others.  It’s the ability to express both positive and negative ideas and feelings in an open way, while eliminating accusatory tones and blaming others.

A good way to ensure you are communicating assertively is by remembering these 4 things: respecting yourself, expressing your thoughts and feelings calmly, planning what you’re going to say and saying “no” when you need too.  So what does that look like?

 

Respecting yourself

Your needs, wants, and rights are just as important as anyone else’s.  Remember that it is OK to speak about what you want, as long as you are respectful of the rights of others. 

 

Express your thoughts and feelings calmly

Take responsibility for your emotions and express them in a calm and factual matter.  Try using “I” statements: “I feel [insert emotion] when [insert scenario FREE of blame of others].”

 

Plan what you’re going to say

Come up with and rehearse specific sentences you can use to express your wants and needs before entering a conversation.

 

Say “no” when you need to

No means no.  Remember that it is not your job to make everyone happy all the time; when you need to say “no”, do so clearly and honestly.  

 

Here’s a few examples of what that might look like:

Instead of saying “I feel like you don’t care about me” (accusatory), try saying something like “I feel lonely and disconnected from you” (assertive).  Or instead of saying “I want you to stop making me so angry” try saying “I am feeling upset and hurt”.  See the difference?

The important thing to remember is that communicating assertively does not mean that you are “walking on eggshells” to avoid hurting the feelings of others, but it does mean that you are communicating your own thoughts and feelings without blaming others. 

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Sarah Howard

Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor - Intern, Supervised by Huston McComb, MA, LPC-S. Sarah enjoys working with young adults, adults and couples.
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