Assertiveness is a healthy way to communicate. It is the ability to speak for ourselves in an honest and respectful way. We all have situations where we have to have uncomfortable or anxiety inducing conversations, whether it’s confronting a friend with something that has hurt us, or a performance review meeting at work. On these occasions, it is worth preparing the conversation to ensure that we communicate in an assertive way.
The DESC method consists of 4 steps:
D – Describe the situation or behavior accurately and factually. Describe precisely what happened, in an objective way, i.e. in a way that is observable by everyone, without judgment and without generalizations. Avoid using the words “always” or “never”.
E – Expressing Emotions – say how you feel about the behavior described in the previous step, always beginning your sentences with I: I feel this way, I think that, etc. It is very important not to hold the other person responsible for our emotions (for example, saying: You make me feel this way).
S – Suggesting Solutions – proposing realistic ways to modify the behavior and/or the relationship in order to resolve the situation. Expressing your needs clearly and being open to hearing the other person’s needs and negotiating a solution that suits all parties.
C – Consequences – clarify the consequences of implementing (or not…) the solution agreed upon in the previous point, to reduce ambiguity and so that all parties involved have the same understanding of what was agreed upon. Practice daily in simple situations to master this new technique. For more delicate situations, don’t hesitate to prepare what you want to say in advance. This simple method will allow you to have a “cheat sheet” to communicate more directly and develop more open and positive relationships.
What we communicate and how we communicate are essential keys to interpersonal relationships.
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