Mastering Effective Communication & Assertiveness

position Apr 13, 2023
blog post about effective communication

📰Poor communication can result in a 29% decrease in project success.

For a non-technical skill, that’s A LOT. And I believe it. As a career coach, I have seen firsthand the impact that effective communication and assertiveness can have on an individual's career progression. Professionals that learn to harness these skills experience exponential growth in their careers, and they take pride in filling that 29% gap in each project.

The question you should be asking yourself now is: why can’t this be me? And the answer is: it CAN.

In this week’s blog post, we'll explore the fundamentals of effective communication and assertiveness, as well as actionable tips that will guide you into unlocking your full career potential. Let's dive in!

The Power of Effective Communication and Assertiveness

According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, poor communication can result in a 29% decrease in overall project success (HBR, 2018). In a world where efficiency can oftentimes be king — a number like this can really hurt. Another way to think, however, is to see this 29% as an opportunity. A chance to elevate the value and productivity you bring to your team, with ZERO technical skills. When you think of it like this, the skill of communication seems appealing. While insightful applications, brilliant ideas, and technical expertise are important, you should never forget the power of strong communication. As the HBR statistics showed, even the strongest worker could suffer a 29% decrease in success if they are not a strong communicator.

Communication and Assertiveness

A complement to strong communication is assertiveness. I don’t mean ‘go walk around like a jerk and let everyone know you’re in charge’. I mean that you should never be afraid to speak up if you have a feeling about something. Or be nervous to ask for help. Or stand up yourself when you feel you aren’t being heard. A simple sense of assertiveness can be the prescription for a lot of people’s problems. After all, a recent study by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) found that assertive leaders were more likely to receive high ratings for overall performance and leadership effectiveness (CCL, 2020). With such compelling data, it's clear that mastering effective communication and assertiveness is paramount for professionals seeking career advancement.

Now let’s talk about how to get there. Here are eight practical tips to help you on this journey.

8️⃣ Action Steps for Improving Communication

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of fully engaging in a conversation by giving your undivided attention, asking questions, and providing feedback. By practicing active listening, you demonstrate empathy and understanding, which can foster strong professional relationships.

Tip: Practice active listening by summarizing the speaker's main points and asking follow-up questions. This not only clarifies your understanding but also shows that you're genuinely engaged. But remember: don’t just sit there and be a bobblehead. It can be easy to get lost in nodding along – make sure to stay engaged! The last thing you want is to get caught nodding along and have no idea what has been said.

Clarity and Concision

Being able to convey complex ideas in a clear and concise manner is vital for effective communication. The Journal of Business Communication found that clear, concise messaging can lead to higher levels of trust and credibility in the workplace (JBC, 2017).

Tip: To improve clarity, focus on using simple language and eliminating jargon. For concision, remove unnecessary words and avoid repetition. Doing these two things alone will help you create messages that are easy to understand and remember.

Embracing the Power of Nonverbal Communication

Research suggests that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues (Mehrabian, 1971). Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, gestures, posture, and tone of voice.

Tip: Maintain eye contact, stand tall with good posture, and use gestures to emphasize important points. Be mindful of your tone of voice – a confident, warm tone can create rapport and convey authority.

Striking the Balance between Assertive and Arrogant

Assertiveness is the ability to express your thoughts, feelings, and needs in an open and respectful manner. It lies between passive and aggressive behavior, and striking the perfect balance in a professional setting is crucial. Assertiveness helps you stand up for yourself and ensures that your ideas and opinions are heard.

Tip: Use "I" statements to express your thoughts and feelings without sounding accusatory. For example, instead of saying "You never listen to me," try "I feel frustrated when my ideas aren't considered." This approach promotes open dialogue and minimizes defensiveness.

Mastering the Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the ability to influence others by presenting logical and compelling arguments. Developing your persuasive skills can help you sell your ideas more effectively, negotiate better deals, and gain support from stakeholders.

Tip: Use the ethos, pathos, and logos approach to build persuasive arguments. Establish credibility (ethos) by demonstrating expertise and trustworthiness; appeal to emotions (pathos) by connecting with your audience on a personal level; and finally, use logic and reasoning (logos) to support your claims with facts and evidence. If you follow these three pillars, people will have a difficult time arguing against you.

Conflict Resolution: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

Conflicts are inevitable in the workplace, but how you handle them can make all the difference. Effective conflict resolution skills can help you navigate disagreements in a professional and productive manner, fostering a more collaborative environment.

Tip: Focus on finding common ground and identifying underlying interests, rather than sticking to entrenched positions. By doing so, you can transform conflicts into opportunities for growth and innovation. Also, remember that facing your conflicts head-on will save you a lot of headaches later on. Don’t let little disputes pile onto one another, lest the frustrations boil over and a huge argument breaks out. Get ahead, and stay ahead.

Building Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both your own emotions and those of others. Studies have shown that professionals with high EQ tend to have better interpersonal relationships and are more likely to be successful leaders (Goleman, 1995).

Tip: Develop your EQ by practicing empathy, self-awareness, and self-regulation. By understanding your own emotions and those of your colleagues, you can navigate difficult situations more effectively and build stronger professional relationships. Put yourself in others’ shoes and be genuine in your interactions, it goes a long way.

Seeking Feedback and Continuously Improving

Constructive feedback is crucial for personal and professional growth. By actively seeking feedback, you can identify areas for improvement and take targeted steps to enhance your communication and assertiveness skills.

Tip: Establish a feedback loop with a trusted colleague or mentor…simply start by asking them what they think you could improve upon. Be open to the constructive criticism, and use the insights gained to refine your approach and become a more effective communicator.


Mastering effective communication and assertiveness can be a simple way to boost your value immediately. Doing so not only helps in the short run, but it also is important in unlocking your full career potential and setting you on a path to success. By implementing these tips and continually refining your skills, you'll not only become a more effective professional but also create a more positive and productive work environment for you and your colleagues.

Remember, the journey to becoming an exceptional communicator and assertive leader is a lifelong process. Embrace the challenges, and take pride in your growth. Your future self will thank you for it.

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