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Confident Communication: Being Direct, Honest and Self-Assured in Graduate School. Noah M. Collins, Ph.D. Staff Psychologist University of Maryland Counseling Center nmc2001@umd.edu. What is Assertiveness?. A communication style

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Confident Communication: Being Direct, Honest and Self-Assured in Graduate School


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    1. Confident Communication: Being Direct, Honest and Self-Assured in Graduate School Noah M. Collins, Ph.D. Staff Psychologist University of Maryland Counseling Center nmc2001@umd.edu

    2. What is Assertiveness? • A communication style • Ability to express your feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and opinions openly in a way that respects those of others • So it involves being direct, honest, and respecting both self and others • Its goals include effective communication and negotiation, mutually satisfactory compromise, win-win outcomes, maintaining the relationship where possible • Not just getting what you want • A tool you can develop and use when you choose

    3. Assertive v. Passive v. Aggressive Passive vs. Assertive vs. Aggressive

    4. Communication Styles are Learned • We are born assertive • Early experiences and models shape how we tend to communicate • How was conflict dealt with in your family and early relationships? • Yelling, closed doors, silent treatment, blaming, avoid conflict and negative emotions, give in, etc. • Family roles: mediator, buffer, emotion expresser, etc. • Families do the best they can and we need to fit in with them, but as an adult you can adjust your communication patterns

    5. Cultural Factors • Culture also plays a big role in communication styles • Each culture has its own mores, values, and norms about how conflict is handled • And we are socialized into our culture • What are the rules you have learned in your culture? • How do they impact assertiveness and what it looks like? • Experience with more than one culture? What are the differences you have noticed regarding conflict management and assertiveness?

    6. Assertiveness Techniques/Strategies • When you…I feel…I would like • I-statements • Broken record • Acknowledgement, validation, gratitude • Be proactive • Strike when the iron is cold • Prioritize and Consult

    7. When you…I feel…I would like • When you (describe the person’s behavior) • I feel (state your emotion) • I would like (state alternative behavior) • Be specific when talking about behaviors • Avoids argument about right and wrong • Sharing the emotional impact of a behavior on you is more effective than trying to prove the behavior is wrong

    8. I-Statements • An example is, “I feel…” or “I would like…” • Prevents using “You…” which may lead to attacking the other person. • You make me angry, You are the reason I’m not making more progress • Owns your experience. Takes responsibility for your reactions, your emotions, and your needs • Its not all on them

    9. Broken Record • Take a phrase that clearly encompasses what you want to communicate. For example: • Given the amount on my plate, I don’t think I can meet this deadline • I am very concerned about my stress level and want to work on changing something to reduce it • Repeat it; allow yourself to go back to this phrase whenever you feel unheard or if the conversation seems to leave it behind • Can be helpful if you find that you get flustered and your brain stops working • Just have to remember one thing

    10. Acknowledgement, Validation, Gratitude • Think of something you appreciate • something they have done to make things better • Some relevant positive feedback • A instance where they were nice instead of a jerk • Use some sugar, but only if genuine • Validate their experience • I realize it must be frustrating that… • I know what you really want is… • Listen to and paraphrase the things they are trying to communicate to you • Listening is a powerful assertiveness tool

    11. Be Proactive &Strike When the Iron is Cold • These both involve timing • It is easy to avoid addressing your needs when it is not yet a crisis • But don’t wait until you/they are upset • Try to be aware of signs that something is bothering you • Avoid intervening when you are particularly angry or upset • Validate your own expereince and use self-care when upset, and then speak to the person later

    12. Prioritize and Consult • Rank your needs by how important they are • Is this need essential, important, desirable? • This can give you a sense of how hard you should push and how much to negotiate • When unsure, talk to someone else you trust; get another pair of eyeballs on it • Ideal if they know about the context/situation • Can practice, even role play with them

    13. Practice, but start easy… • You can practice first with safe friends, colleagues, partners, and family. • What are some doable opinions/wants/feelings that you would like to try to communicate? • Maybe even let them know you are practicing • Look for opportunities in low-stakes situations • Stores, restaurants, etc. • Try to make success probable when you’re first starting out

    14. Managing Your Advisor/Faculty • Think about who they are • How do they like to work • Personality, quirks • Communication style • What makes them happy, impressed • Not who you think they should be • How can you work best with a person like that • Think about what is doable by you to make this relationship go well • Don’t do what isn’t doable or unjust, but do what is doable

    15. Vignettes and Role Plays • In a lab meeting with your advisor a peer doesn’t mention your contributions to a project you did together • Your advisor asks you to take on a large task that will mostly benefit your advisor and you don’t feel you have enough time to participate • You are waiting for your advisor to get back to you with information and/or feedback you need to make progress on your thesis and you are getting concerned that the delay will affect the time table you both set up previously. • Situations from your life?

    16. Questions and Discussion