assertive communication training


Those of us who watch Judge Judy knows that in this picture, she is not eating a crouton; she is using body language to tell some poor litigant, who keeps talking over or interrupting her, to “Shut up!” I am NOT SUGGESTING you use the following technique on this woman. But I am suggesting you learn the following technique from this woman. (Check out those prepositions! Words really do matter.)

How do most people respond when interrupted? They say “excuse me,” or “I’m sorry,” and thereby lose their place on the communication floor. If you want to be an effective assertive communicator, you’ll need to develop your ability to keep standing on the communication rug when someone tries to pull it out from under you. You’ll need to learn The Anti-Interrupter. Let’s learn it now, from Judge Judy. When someone has interrupted you, and you want to regain the floor, follow these four JJ steps:
1. Keep your head straight–no tilting to either side.
2. Open your eyes wide enough to show the entire iris.
3. Use a “stop” gesture. (Think of the international signal for stop–with the hand open–palm facing the other person.)
4. Use an anti-interrupter phrase–such as: “I’m speaking” or “I’m still speaking” or “As you can see, I’m still speaking.”

Don’t say “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” since you’ve done nothing to offend anyone. To the contrary, the interrupter is the one who should be apologizing to you for not allowing you to finish. Excellent effective communication requires finesse and a polite manner of speaking, but it doesn’t require that you yield the floor on demand.

If you ever watch Judge Judy, you’ll see she never deviates from this formula when someone is trying to interrupt her. And she is known as an effective master communicator–(though sometimes overly aggressive). You can learn from her good points without adopting an aggressive style. If you practice this formula and use it when people are attempting to interrupt you (think competitors/colleagues in a meeting) you’ll be able to maintain the floor against the most aggressive of people, while being seen as a tactful, savvy communicator–who is effective and assertive, but not aggressive.

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