Asking for what you want is a key aspect of assertiveness, but I personally also find it to be a key aspect of respectful communication as well. If you are indirect about what you want, it can inconvenience others as they try to guess what you are looking for (often unsuccessfully). Asking directly eliminates ambiguity, which is considerate to the listener.
- I'm upset about some issues in our relationship, and I want to talk to you about them and resolve them because I like you a lot and I want to stay together and enjoy being with you without worrying about these things. --- A great way to remove any sort of doubt in a relationship...you start the conversation by emphasizing that you want to stay together and want to resolve the issue, so the other person doesn't have to start worrying about this.
- I was very troubled by how this incident was handled, and I want a written response so I can be assured that it won't happen again. --- This statement is good because it communicates exactly what you are looking for. Often, when people are upset, it is not clear exactly what they want in order to be satisfied.
- I want to speak with someone who has the authority and knowledge to answer these questions. --- If you're talking to a customer service representative, or other person who doesn't have the knowledge or authority to address your problem, this cuts to the key business, and it lets them know that you aren't interested in wasting anyone's time, but that you want your question resolved.
Asking directly for what you want is useful in close relationships, in the workplace, in school, and when dealing with businesses, stores, and corporations. It is useful anywhere other people are involved. You won't always get exactly what you want, but it usually doesn't hurt to ask.
You can also ask a direct question. For example, in the third case above:
"Can you refer me to someone who can help solve this problem?" - People dont like to say no, and will be more likely to either solve your problem or refer you to someone who can, if you ask directly like this.
Questions? Comments? Feedback?
Yes! I definitely find it helpful to remind myself about these things. I understand the ideas and am familiar with all these methods of communication, and have for years now, but that doesn't mean I always focus on them or carry them out.
I generally think it's good for me to be reminded continually of these things, especially when I'm surrounded by people who may not be communicating in ways I consider to be as respectful.
Although I am familiar with much of what you share here I still find it useful and informative. As with many familiar things, gentle reminders are always welcome, and a refresher course in respectful communication skills doesn't hurt me a bit.
Thank you! I think it's interesting that you say the suggestions are self-explanatory.
I've noticed that people tend to naturally have a wide range of communication styles, and there are some people who naturally tend to communicate in ways that use I statements more naturally, but there are also those who do not.
I even think there are some ways in which people can be taught to write in ways that state assertions as fact, rather than as opinion, because it's presented as a "stronger" way of writing...and I wonder if this can influence people's communication habits negatively.
I know, in my case, communicating respectfully did not come naturally to me; it was something I had to learn, and I think this may have been due to having a lot of examples in my life of people who talked about certain topics (especially political ones, but sometimes personal ones too) with great certainty. When I learned this stuff, it was somewhat of a breakthrough to me.
This is a good lesson in using words that do not sound correct especially in a fit of rage.The suggestions are self explanatory.