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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.

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Presentation on theme: "Confident Communication: Being Direct, Honest and Self-Assured in Graduate School Noah M. Collins, Ph.D. Staff Psychologist University of Maryland Counseling."— Presentation transcript:

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

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


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