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  • Rob Lawrence

Speak Loud, Live Loud: Strategies For Assertive Communication


a speaker phone blowing mulitcolour bubbles out of it with the logo from therapy by robert and the title Speak Loud, Live Loud: Strategies For Assertive Communication

 

Discover the power of assertive communication in our blog post, "Speak Loud, Live no Loud: Strategies For Assertive Communication." Learn practical techniques to express yourself confidently, set boundaries, and navigate various situations with authenticity. Join us on this transformative journey towards effective communication.

 

a multi coloured image with the quote the only way to find your voice is to use it

 

Namaste


Have you ever stayed silent just because it felt like the easy option and if so what path did that silence take you down?


A picture of a women holding her and and saying that would be me


For me In my younger years I used to struggle with shyness and often found it difficult to communicate with people. I was so lacking in confidence you could tell me black was white and rather than debate that I would have probably just agreed with you.... I thought I knew my place and that was in the back of a room being invisible and nodding in agreement with anything that was presented to me...... If truth be told, a lad you could walk all over.



Being honest that's not an easy pill for me to swallow and I'll admit the only reason I can and am comfortable doing so is because things are very different now.... I'm very different.




Now I'm A therapist and don't get the luxury of being able to shy away from uncomfortable conversations anymore..... There are no boundaries in the therapy room.... no limits..... I have to be willing and able to go anywhere the conversation demands and in the Counselling world that message is huge. It says:.....


You don't have to hide away. It's OK to take control of your life and show people who you really are without having to worry about what they will say.

a woman holding her hand up saying preach sister preach


In this blog I want to talk about this and share with you what I've learnt as A Counsellor helping others in finding their voice. We'll talk about why for a lot of us Silence is the easy option, why this needs to change and what we need to do to change it.


If that sounds like something you'd like to hear about this blog is for you 😉 Enjoy....


 

The Impact Of Silence On Our Mental Health And Relationships


a boy infront of a tree with tape covering his mouth

As a therapist, I understand the value of silence for reflection, introspection, and mindfulness but using silence as a way to cope with struggles and challenges can harm us and lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and helplessness.


Ask yourself......


How often when we get asked "Are we OK?" our response is always "Fine"... "I don't want to talk about it" or "It doesn't matter".


Why do we chose to put up and shut up rather than be honest and share what's really going on?






Medical research (Ayhan & Seki, 2021) has shown us that chronic silence can lead to an increase in cortisol levels, which is the stress hormone that leads to long-term health problems like heart disease, digestive disorders, and autoimmune diseases


Being silenced by our struggles can also lead to mental health issues. We deny ourselves not only the support, love and comfort from the people around us but the opportunity to learn and grow from the experience.


a dog with a funny face and the words stress


Ultimately, our self-imposed limitations hinder our ability to communicate effectively with those around us often leading to misunderstanding, confusion and mistrust (Alberti & Emmons, 1970)


A better way for us to be would be to learn how to effectively communicate with others what our thoughts, feelings, needs and wants are so we can live more happier, healthier and fulfilling lives.



 

Understanding The Reasons Why We Choose Silence



As someone who has lived with mental illness for more than two decades being silent and invisible was a way to protect myself from A fear of rejection. Back in the day, mental health stigma was the norm so I learnt very quickly that If I didn't want to be called "crazy," "weak," or "unstable." I needed to shut my mouth and keep quiet.



heath ledgers joker with the words im not crazy, i'm just a little unwell


It was almost impossible for me to open up about my mental health to prospective employers and anyone in my personal life whom I hoped to form deep connections with because 99 times out of 100 the response I would get was always the same.......rejection.


Ultimately I knew this needed to change and I needed to find a way of being comfortable with myself and showing that and for me that happened when I went back to Uni and trained to become a Counsellor.


Finding my tribe of people that got mental health gave me all the comfort and confidence I needed to start putting myself out there without worrying to much about what people had to say.




Years later I now see this process and pattern of behaviour all the time with the clients I work with. They all come to me struggling with being able to talk about themselves and what's going on.


For a lot of them they feel that they don't have the opportunity to talk about stuff with their friends and family and when they do they say they don't know how to.


When we examine this a little deeper we always find out their reasons fall into one or more of the following categories;


a chinese child crying because he has no one to talk to


  • Fear of Conflict: One of the most common reasons I hear is that they don't want to make waves, hurt someone's feelings, or make the situation worse. In these situations, they feel more comfortable saying nothing at all, even if it means suppressing their thoughts and feelings.


  • Lack of Confidence: A lot of clients don't think they have the ability to communicate effectively. They worry that they might say the wrong thing, come across as aggressive, or leave themselves vulnerable. In these situations, it's easier to remain silent, rather than risk saying something that might backfire.




  • Avoiding Vulnerability: Another majorly common reason is that they feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, especially if they're afraid of being judged, rejected, or misunderstood. For them, silence is a protective shield that keeps them from getting hurt.


a gif from ru pauls drag race


  • Habit: Lastly, silence is simply a habit. They have learned to remain quiet in certain situations because that's what they've always done and in a lot of situations it's become such a regular habit they are not even aware they are doing it.



All things considered silence seems to be the easy option for most of us but in reality that choice we think is the safest actually comes at a cost.


Choosing silence as a way of life can effect the relationships we have with others, it can effect the way we think of ourselves and ultimately it can lead to the choices we make in our lives not being based on what we want but what we think others will approve of.


"But what if things we're different?"..... "What if we we're confident in speaking our truth?".... "What would that look like?"


 

Understanding The Power Of Effective Communication



As a counsellor, I consider it an absolute privilege to help someone in their journey and seeing their transformation is priceless to me but for this chapter instead of me sharing with you my observations about the changes I see in others I wanted you to hear it from the horses mouth.


Over the last couple of weeks I have asked my clients to share 1 thing in their life that has changed because they learnt how to use their voice.


This is what they said -



quote abou truth


"Finding better ways to communicate has helped me build stronger relationships with loved ones."

"I'm able to avoid arguments and deal with issues more effectively."


"I've been able to build trust and honesty with my family."

"I've learnt how to become a better version of myself."

"When I practised speaking up and being clear, it helped me do better at talking in front of people and getting them to understand what I was saying."

a picture of oprah winfrey with a quote saying can you hear me can you see me

"I used to struggle to talk in front of others, but now I feel empowered knowing that my voice matters."

"Being able to communicate my ideas clearly has helped me advance in my career. I'm no longer afraid to share my thoughts and take the lead on projects, and I feel more valued as a result."


"By being honest and open, the relationships I have in my life are stronger and deeper."



"I've found that speaking up and being myself has made me stronger. When things get tough, I know that I can rely on my own strengths and the support of those around me."

"I know now what values are important to me, and feel confident sharing them with others."

a picture of a bear pulling a funny face and a meme talking about realising your old

"Having a strong voice has helped me set boundaries. I got control of my life and learnt how to say no"

"I feel more confident in my abilities and comfortable in my own skin."



Pretty amazing results don't you think?.... Let's talk about how they did it


 

Assertiveness And Self-Expression: The Vital Role Of Communication Skills



Have you ever heard the saying "It's not what you say but how you say it"



the rainbow colours with a black man in the cenre with the words bubbas banter


Well...


In some situations that's kinda true because communication isn't just about the words we use. It's also about the tone, emotion and space we use them in and there are 5 things we need to focus on to be able to express our thoughts, ideas, opinions, feelings, or actions in a clear and healthy way that can be easily understood by others. They include;


  • (1) Active Listening: Pay attention to the person you're communicating with and actively listen to what they are saying and be genuinely interested in what they have to say.


  • (2) Nonverbal Communication: Remember that nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice, can convey a lot of information.


3 men and 1 woman in black suits sitting behind a desk all with different body language poses

  • (3) Empathy: Try to understand the other person's perspective and emotions. Show empathy by acknowledging their feelings and validating their experiences.


  • (4) Respect and Courtesy: Treat others with respect and courtesy, regardless of any differences or disagreements.


  • (5) Adaptability: Provide constructive feedback when necessary and be open to receiving feedback as well. This helps in improving communication and understanding each other's needs and expectations.


Focusing on these communication skills and learning how to create spaces where everyone feels accepted, heard and empowered can be a game changer in how you connect with others and the meaningfulness of those connections.


What else do we need to know?




 

Practical Exercises To Build Confidence In Communicating



There's no lying building confidence in authentic communication is a tough personal journey but the rewards can have a profound impact on your self-expression, relationships, and overall well-being so to end this blog I wanted to give you some concrete ideas that you can use to help find and use your voice (Pipas, Maria & Mohammad, 2010)....


Try incorporating these practices into your daily life and see if they help



  • Write Down Your Needs: One way to start communicating your needs more effectively is to write them down. By doing this, you can organize your thoughts and be prepared to communicate your needs when the opportunity arises.


  • Practice Saying No: Saying no can be difficult, but it's essential in communicating your needs and boundaries. Saying no empowers you to take control of your life and communicate your needs clearly.


an old man with grey hair in a vest with a bottle of beer in his hand saying i rather die than become vegan


  • Imagine success: Visualize what a successful conversation would look like and how you would feel if you successfully communicated your needs. This can help boost your confidence and give you a better idea of how to approach the conversation.


  • Talk positively to yourself: Avoid negative self-talk like "I can't do this" or "I'm not good at expressing myself." Instead, tell yourself that you're capable of communicating your needs confidently and respectfully.




  • Start Small: Begin practising your communication skills by speaking up in small situations like ordering food or asking for directions. This can help you build confidence and experience before dealing with more significant conversations.



  • Seek Constructive Criticism: Seek feedback from trusted friends, mentors, or colleagues. Ask for their honest input on your communication skills and areas for improvement.



Remember, building confidence takes time and patience, so be kind to yourself throughout the process. Celebrate your progress and embrace the learning opportunities that come your way.


 

Final Thoughts

picture of therapy by Robert indicating his final thoughts

Without a doubt learning to be comfortable being ourselves and communicating ours needs is a journey that requires us to step out of our comfort zone into the unknown.


"Do I think it's worth it?"


Absolutely..... The way I see it is why would we want to live a life that isn't ours making decisions and doing things we don't want to because of what we think other people will say?..... It seems silly to me.


What do you think?


As always, If you enjoyed this blog share it with your friends on your socials. Additionally, I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback about my posts and if you like them or not.


xx


 

More More More


TED Talks - : TED Talks features a range of inspiring and informative talks on assertiveness, self-expression, and finding your voice. From renowned speakers, you can gain valuable insights and motivation to help you become more assertive.


Skills You Need - Skills You Need offers a comprehensive guide to assertiveness skills, including practical techniques, tips for handling difficult conversations, and strategies for assertive body language. They also provide exercises and activities to enhance your assertiveness.


MindTools - : MindTools provides comprehensive resources and tips on assertiveness, including techniques to help you become more assertive in different situations. They also offer quizzes and exercises to assess and enhance your assertiveness skills.


 


If you're interested in learning more about how to find your voice and be assertive, I encourage you to use the Google search box to explore the topic further.



 

References



Ayhan D, Seki Öz H. Effect of assertiveness training on the nursing students' assertiveness and self-esteem levels: Application of hybrid education in COVID-19 pandemic. Nurs Forum. 2021;56(4):807-815. doi:10.1111/nuf.12610


Pipas, Maria & Jaradat, Mohammad. (2010). Assertive Communication Skills. Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica. 2. 17-17. 10.29302/oeconomica.2010.12.2.17.


Alberti, R. E., & Emmons, M. L. (1970). Your perfect right: A guide to assertive behavior.

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               Why Listen To Me?
 
The short answer is I don't know.

Life 10 years ago looked very different for me......I was smack bang in the middle of a mental health breakdown failing in every part of my life
 
But......

As I now find myself walking into my early 40s my story has very much changed..... It's moved from A troubled life I thought I was destined to live to one that's filled with mental health recovery, meaning and purpose.

The me now lives and works in Manchester using the Madness he experienced in the past to help others fix their Minds...... If that's something you might be interested in this blog might be for you 😊

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