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Self-Help Tools: Personal Concerns

Communication Skills

Helpful Hints for Assertive Behavior

Elaborated Opinion Statements

  • Begin with a personal pronoun: "I think that..."; "My opinion is..."
  • Use a compound sentence containing several phrases connected by such words as because, therefore, and but: "I disagree with what you've said because..." or "I agree with your first point, but..."
  • You do not need to have an original argument in order to express your opinion. You may rephrase, repeat, or comment on what another person has said.
  • You may agree or disagree with what others say. Or you may change the direction of the conversation: "I think we're ignoring an important point which is..."

Breaking into an Ongoing Conversation

  • Listen actively -- nod, look directly at others, say "uh-huh."
  • Wait for a natural pause in the conversation.
  • Raise your voice slightly to signal others you wish to speak.
  • Use your body -- lean forward into the conversational arena; use hand gestures; touch the person to whom you wish to speak.
  • State an opinion, "I think that..." or ask a question, "What about..."
  • Use the person's name to gain attention, "Bill, I also think..."
  • "Excuse me, may I join you?"
  • "I don't know exactly what you're talking about, but it sounds fascinating."

Resisting Interruption

  • Raise your voice slightly to signal that you would like to finish your comment.
  • Repeat your opening phrase so that you don't lose your train of thought, "I think...but I do think that..."
  • Continue talking without hesitation; engage in parallel talking for a short while.
  • Don't look at the interrupter; look at those who are attentive.
  • Ask the interrupter to wait until you have finished your statement, "I think the best thing to do would... please wait a minute... would be to start a new program."
  • Hold up your hand or touch the person to signal that you would like the interrupter to stop.
  • Pause briefly, then quickly resume your comment, "I think that... the new program idea is a good one."
  • If interruption is a question, briefly reply and resume comment.
  • "I'll be back to that in a minute."