Communication & Assertiveness

Health & Wellness provides services, education, and support to help you communicate authentically and assertively.


To find events and programs related to communication & assertiveness, visit:

Events, Workshops, and Classes

communication continuum

Individual Wellness Coaching

Learning how to be an effective communicator is essential to emotional health and managing stress. We offer individual wellness coaching sessions with Well-Being Educator/Counselors, Shannon Seiferth, MS, CHWC and Dawn Zitney, MEd, CWHC,  RYT-200. 


  • All visits are confidential 
  • This service is available to all UNH students and is offered at no cost for full-time students who have paid their tuition/fees.
  • Make an appointment online or by calling (603) 862-3823

Becoming a Clear Communicator

Becoming a clear communicator means effectively conveying your thoughts, ideas, needs and wants. Communicating clearly helps you manage your time and your life, to feel good about yourself, and to build trustworthy relationships with others.

Know what you want to say

  • Ask yourself what it is you want: Gaining a full understanding of what you want to say will help you deliver your message.
  • Practice what you are going to say in advance: Say it out loud to yourself or someone else. Don’t be afraid to change your message in the process.
  • Stay focused: Don’t bring up things that happened in the past.


  • Show that you are listening: Make eye contact; don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask the other person to repeat what he or she has said.
  • Be polite: Don’t interrupt; take turns talking.
  • Be respectful: Respect what the other person is feeling and/or thinking.
  • Keep an open mind: Don’t be afraid to change your mind about what you first thought when you started the conversation

Say what you mean

  • Be direct and give examples: Help the other person understand what you’re trying to say.
  • Be Honest: Show how you really feel.
  • Use “I” statements: Talking in “I” statements helps you clearly explain what you need and how your feel, without placing blame on the other person. Example: “ I feel frustrated when you’re late. I want you to be on time.”
  • Pay attention to you body language: The way you move your body and hands speak just as much as what you say.
  • Don’t be afraid to say that you are sorry if you say something that is hurtful or wrong.

Make sure you understand

  • What do you both want: Ask the other person what he or she needs, and be clear about your needs.
  • If you don’t understand, ask: Don’t be afraid to ask the other person how he or she is thinking and feeling. Don’t try to guess on your own.
  • Repeat what the other person says: A great way to make sure that you understand someone is to repeat what the person has just said, in your own words, e.g., “What I hear you saying is...”

Action and closure

  • Before the conversation ends, make sure you both understand what the other has said.
  • Summarize: Restate what each of you has said, to make sure that there are no misunderstandings.
  • What will happen next: Make an agreement about what will happen next as a result of your conversation.
  • Closure: You may not both agree with one another, but make sure you are both satisfied with the conversation. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation again, at a later time, if necessary.

Assertiveness is...

  • Behaviors and words that express a person's feelings, beliefs and opinions
  • Communicating directly, firmly, and honestly
  • Respecting the other person's rights and your own 
  • A skill that you will always be working on enhancing 

The ultimate goal of assertiveness is respect!

  •  Self-respect: It allows you to feel self-confident and more in control of your life.
  •  Respect from others: People can sense it when you respect yourself, so they'll treat you with respect in return.

Why aren't people assertive?

  • Many of us have a fear of displeasing others, since we worry we won't be liked. But even though you can avoid immediate unpleasantness, you may ruin a relationship in the long run since you'll feel taken advantage of.
  • They believe it's "not nice" to put our own needs above those of others.
  • They believe we shouldn't "make waves" if someone says/does something we don't like.

Non-assertive communication styles


A person who is aggressive stands up for his/her own rights, but in a way that violates the rights of others. This commonly results in put-downs of the other person, and it can cause people to lose respect for the speaker.


A passive-aggressive person avoids direct confrontation (passive), but attempts to "get even" through manipulation or sneaky behavior (aggressive).


A passive person's individual rights will probably be violated. This style reflects the underlying belief that one's feelings aren't important, or that one is too weak to act on those feelings.

    The implications of being non-assertive

    • Depression - this is the end result of anger turned inward; it gives the person a sense of being helpless and hopeless with no control over his/her life
    • Anxiety - this leads to avoidance. If you begin to avoid uncomfortable situations/people, you may miss out on fun activities, job opportunities, etc.
    • Poor Relationships - if you are unable to express both negative and positive emotions, others can’t tell what you want and need.
    • Physical Complaints - headaches, ulcers, and high blood pressure

    These are all related to stress, and assertiveness is a great stress reliever!

      How You Deliver Your Message Matters

      Forming assertive statements

      • Be direct; express your request in just a few easy-to-understand sentences
      • Think about yourself positively, and don't add qualifying statement (i.e. "You'll probably think I'm crazy, but...")
      • Avoid demanding or blaming statements (i.e. You make me..., You think..., You should...)

      Use the "I" formula

      • I feel - state your feeling
      • When - describe behavior
      • Because - concrete effect/consequence on your situation
      • I'd prefer - offer a compromise
      • Feedback - "Am I being clear? How do you see this situation?"

      Be mindful of body language 

      • Gestures - relaxed use of these shows openness, self-confidence and spontaneity
      • Voice Tone - level, well-modulated, conversational tone
      • Voice Inflection - make sure your words sound like a statement, not a question
      • Voice Volume - try not to speak too softly or loudly (stay calm)
      • Fluence - maintain a smooth flow of speech, with clear and slow statements.
      • Body Posture - maintain an active and erect posture
      • Facial Expression - your words should express the same message as your face
      • Eye Contact - look directly at the person, but don’t stare too intently (look away occasionally)

      Become an Assertive Communicator and Reduce Your Stress

       Assertiveness can help control stress and anger and improve coping skills. Learn assertive behavior with these steps.

      Resources at UNH

      Learning how to become a clear communicator takes a lot of practice and time. The following resources are available to students at UNH:

      Download and Practice