Assertive Communication

Are you experiencing conflict with your coach, roommate, or family member? Communication is the means of resolving conflict. And, effective communication is tough! Sometimes on teams we resort to talking behind a teammate’s back, when direct communication is more effective. Improve your conflict resolution skills by learning about assertive communication.



Three Goals of Communication:

  1. Get message across (share thoughts, feelings, wants, needs)
  2. Improve or maintain relationship
  3. Improve or maintain self-respect

Styles of communication accomplish these goals differently:


Passive communication involves staying quiet or trying to send a message indirectly (through body language, for example). The intent is to please others by avoiding conflict. However, passive communication may lead to anxiety, lower self worth, and eventual anger from failure to meet one’s needs.

Aggressive communication involves standing up for personal rights by violating the rights of others. An example might be, “You’re so wrong, you idiot!” The intent is to dominate or humiliate, and the message gets lost when the listener becomes too angry to hear it.

Assertive communication involves the direct, appropriate, and honest expression of beliefs or feelings that is respectful of others’ rights. The intent is to communicate, and this style often leads to confidence, respect, and achieving one’s needs.

One key of assertive communication is using “I” language, which is respectful and direct. Begin sentences with “I feel…”, “I want…”, “I don’t want…”

“I feel frustrated when you don’t text me back.” / “I don’t want to argue.” / “I want to feel closer to you.”

Assertive communication is a skill–the more you practice, the better you get. Go out there and practice direct, respectful communication!