Meta-Communication and Assertive Communication Skills

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The following post is submitted by a young man in his mid-twenties. He describes meta-communication and assertive communication skills and how he has applied these to turn around his poor communication learned from very violent, abusive and negative childhood experiences.

Meta-communication is communicating about how we are communicating: how a message or information is delivered, and is meant to be interpreted. It is based on the idea that the same message accompanied by various verbal and non-verbal deliveries can make a message mean something totally different, including its opposite, as in irony. For example, two people may discuss certain body language such as rolling the eyes, frowning or a shrugging of the shoulders to determine what message is being conveyed.

Assertive Communication uses both verbal and non-verbal communication to respect the boundaries of yourself and others. It is the quality of being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. Examples of this include people who are able to maintain long-term comfortable relationships with other people and and are able to effectively express thoughts and feelings.

I was raised in a family where violence was present unnecessarily. It seriously got in the way of me learning proper assertive communication skills.

It was difficult to grow up having a father figure because of how my father was to my family. I was never taught proper social skills or had any examples provided to me. Because of how my father was, I knew everything about him was negative and I did not want to be like him at all… one bit.

In a way, it is hard to describe but I became a better man because of how my father acted. I learned how to treat others with respect and how to properly communicate. It is good to know that I have seen what the negative outcome will be without proper communication skills and to learn from that bad example.

Recently, my mother and I have been beginning to communicate better. I am now expressing more of my true thoughts to her by opening up, by using a more friendly approach to topics that usually would cause stress between the both of us. We are both using more positive expression and more positive body language.

Less nagging has been occurring leading to more different approaches to conversations that we ever really had before.”

I hope you are as inspired as I am in this young man’s story of pain and recovery, of his striving to overcome horrible experiences and learn more caring, loving and effective communication. Just because we may have grown up in families where violence and abuse existed doesn’t mean we must repeat this behavior. We can, with reading and good guidance, confront our way of interacting with others, learn new ways of communicating and develop meaningful, satisfying, long-term, loving relationships with others.


Relationships can be pretty scary!

Sometimes the thoughts, feelings, and recurring arguments for change in our relationships can feel very unsettling, like a never-ending roller coaster. The experience is sometimes thrilling and exciting and other times daunting and exhausting. When we are in a relationship with a person suffering from an addiction (sex, alcohol, or drugs), the roller coaster of feelings and thoughts consume us. They may sound like these: “If I just control certain situations he/she will not engage in the addictive behaviours;” “I should be supportive and loving all the time—that will keep him/her sober;” “I am sure that if he/she changes, I will be happy.”

These are normal ideations that we rummage through when our relationships are in crisis; when our communication with our partner is wearing down; or when we assume that we can control others’ lives. We are constantly thinking of ways in which we can help the people we love. But what about us?

Eventually these thoughts are set on auto-play; lessening the chances of us actually believing them anymore. We learn that as days, months, and sometimes years go by, that something has got to give. That something is someone. It’s us; that person staring us in the mirror each morning (if we dare to look).

Our attempts to orchestrate change in our partner were attempts of avoiding change in ourselves. When we surrender control over others we shift our efforts into transforming ourselves. This involves setting boundaries that keep us safe, as well as seeking help and support.

Help is available. You are NOT alone! When we seek help from professional counsellors and community support groups, we are awakened, we gain insight, and we begin to make positive changes in our lives.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance,” (Anonymous). A journey of true, sincere happiness is not dependant on external individuals or circumstances.

Try a new roller coaster today by contacting us today to achieve a happier, and healthier life.