Your Script for Assertive and Effective Communication

This script is for talking with important people in your life; it is not necessary to talk to just anyone from a feelings place.  Eventually, you will be able to communicate this way without using the exact script and will find it not only to be effective, but a relief as well.

In therapy and in self-help book and meetings, people are encouraged to speak assertively and express their feelings. Sometimes, this message is misunderstood and misused. I have heard people in my office say awful things to a spouse or child and then say “I am just expressing my feelings.”  Well, ok, they are expressing their feelings, but not in a way that has the other person listening. In fact, they are often attacking and spewing pent up hurt and anger, which leave the receiver running and ducking for cover, or curled up in the fetal position on the floor trying to protect themselves. Sometimes, the recipient has emotionally checked out, or will physically leave the room.

“I think you are a jerk” (or worse), or “you make me feel scared or angry when you act like an ass!” aren’t really effective statements. Screaming, cursing, name calling and accusations in the name of expressing your feelings only damage the situation further.  You may have temporary relief, but the overall situation probably will not change.

Here is the script to use to communicate your feelings and speak assertively:

I feel ____________________ (insert a feelings word here, “that you should” is not a feeling. See list below for some feelings words)

When you ___________________________ (list a specific behavior or two, not a laundry list, and not something like “you act like a jerk, or you treat me badly)

Because _____________________________ (a brief explanation of the effect on you; not a justification of bad reactive behavior)

For example:

I feel hurt

When you call me stupid

Because we all make mistakes and when I am hurt I have trouble correcting the mistake

 

I feel angry

When you don’t call if you will be late

Because I have been waiting for you or it makes me late for my class.

Feelings Words to get you started:  Sad Mad Glad Scared

Pretty much all feeling words come from these, and are more descriptive. There are many, many words to describe feelings and here are a few more:

Sad Mad glad Scared
hurt disappointed Joyous lost
betrayed angry happy frightened
anguished frustrated delighted lonely
discouraged Irritated confident confused
embarrassed annoyed accepting worried
numb provoked satisfied nervous
powerless resentful thankful suspicious
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