In recovery, you’re learning to communicate better and have healthier relationships. Men sometimes have a problem learning new communicating skills. After all, the media portrays male protagonists (the good guys) as sarcastic, brash, and even violent. While this behavior may seem “normal”, in real life, it causes more problems than it could ever solve. Aggressive communication shuts other people down, and can even make them frightened of dealing with you in the future. Assertive communication, however, is healthy communication. So what is the difference between the two? How can you communicate healthily?
Aggressive Behavior and Communication
Aggressive behavior isn’t healthy and can sometimes even be a prelude to violence. It’s a “skill” that you no longer need in recovery. In recovery, you will learn to listen to others without judging. You also will learn to accept responsibility for your own actions. Here are some examples of aggressive behavior:
- Shouting, yelling, or throwing things.
- Blaming others for your actions.
- Ignoring what the other person is trying to say.
- Talking over the other person.
- Bringing up old resentments into arguments.
- Making threats.
- Insulting or verbally attacking the other person.
- Blocking a door so that a person can’t safely exit an argument.
- Any verbal or physical abuse, or purposefully making the other person afraid.
Aggressive behavior is often a defense mechanism that is meant to shut the other person down. You may use this behavior when you’re afraid of being hurt or feeling ashamed.
Either way, aggressive behaviors hurt and scares other people, and in recovery, it’s a skill you need to un-learn. If you don’t know how to respond to a conversation that you’re having or an argument, walk away. Walking away and returning to the conversation when you’re calm and collected can make a huge difference.
Assertive Conversations and Behavior
Assertive people state their opinions and are also respectful to others. Rather than shout, they ask questions. They state their views and don’t talk over people or interrupt their reactions. Here are a few examples of assertive behavior:
- Making eye contact during the conversation or “leaning in” if you’re at a desk or table.
- Asking follow-up questions when the other party has finished speaking.
- Mirroring what the other person says by restating what you have heard. “It sounds like I really hurt your feelings” is a good example.
- Smiling when it’s appropriate or nodding your head as you listen.
- Taking accountability for your mistakes and owning them.
You can learn to become more assertive by paying attention to others who have been sober longer. Your sponsor can probably help you. Therapy is also a good way to practice your body language and learn more about active listening.
Communication is a skill that humans work on throughout their lives. It’s okay to make mistakes – like everyone, you’re a work in progress. Just continue working on your flaws and don’t feel weird about asking for help.
Consider Sober Living
In a sober living home, you’ll learn to juggle your responsibilities, and your recovery. You’ll also learn how to nurture your relationships and have fun as a newly sober person. We want to help you grow into the person you’re meant to be! Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about your options.