Self-esteem and confidence are interlinked with clarity of conversation as one has to be confident to deliver their message assertively. If you’re looking to get better at expressing yourself, you should know how self-esteem affects communication.
Self-esteem affects communication by setting expectations regarding what you can and cannot say. With high self-esteem, you have the confidence to be more direct, while its lack can make you passive-aggressive and confusing to the other party.
In this article, we will explore:
- Three ways in which self-esteem is connected to communication.
- How you can have better self-esteem by practicing ten principles of high self-esteem.
- The best way to be assertive.
Self-Esteem Sets Expectations
It is often said that we get treated as we expect to be treated, but the role of self-esteem isn’t discussed in this regard. Self-esteem helps us set expectations in any social setting. If one’s self-esteem is low, he may not believe he deserves to be treated well. If this individual isn’t being respected or taken care of properly, he’s less likely to communicate his concerns than someone with higher self-esteem.
Insecurity Can Lead to Passive-Aggressive Behavior
People engage in passive-aggressive behavior because they don’t believe their concerns are valid enough to be brought up directly. Either fearing ridicule or confrontation, those with low self-esteem often communicate their resentment indirectly. This communication mode is tedious to decrypt, and the person on the receiving end may often be confused as to why the passive-aggressive behavior is occurring.
Self-Esteem Impacts Delivery
The choice to communicate or not to do is impacted by self-esteem. Still, even when you choose to share directly, your delivery confidence is dictated by your self-esteem. Someone with high self-esteem can address a minor issue with weight and confidence that signals importance, while someone with low confidence may approach major valid concerns with a self-dismissive tone.
How To Improve Self-Esteem for Better Communication
Now that you understand the role of self-esteem in communication let’s explore what you can do to have more self-esteem. Below are the ten things you can do to elevate your self-image and become a more assertive communicator.
Most people wake up with a head full of negative thoughts. Most of these thoughts are made up of “what if” scenarios regarding the future that won’t come true. Some people are stuck in the past, thinking about every embarrassing and regrettable thing they have done.
Both of these impact self-esteem negatively as one pushes you to live in a state of fear (worrying about the future) while the other forces you to scold yourself for your past self’s mistakes. By living in the moment, you get more control over your presentation. And with more control comes heightened self-respect.
While self-improvement is essential, you do not want it to come at the price of constant discontentment with yourself. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. By accepting who you are, including your supposed flaws, you don’t feel like there is much about you that you should hide. This can open you up for better communication.
Adopt More Responsibility
Think about two hypothetical characters George and Jim. George is the king and has to take care of an entire kingdom. Jim doesn’t even have a job. Who do you think has more self-esteem? The king most likely has higher self-esteem. But most people dismiss it as a function of power.
It turns out power and responsibility are interlinked. By adopting more responsibility for your own life, you are more likely to have a higher sense of self.
Be More Assertive
At first glance, this might seem like a catch22 because to be more assertive, you need self-esteem, yet self-esteem is also a result of being more assertive. That is true to some degree.
But as long as you get the wheel started (have high self-esteem or assertiveness, to begin with), it kickstarts a positive feedback loop, and both your self-esteem and assertiveness improve. To start being more assertive, you can start by not saying things you do not believe. This simple principle can encourage you to respect yourself and become even more assertive with practice.
Have a Purpose
Serving a worthy cause can give you a sense of honor that ripples into different areas of your life. One of the will-breaking tactics used by inhumane prison-runners is to force prisoners into doing meaningless labor. This affects the prisoners’ self-esteem as they can see their work is pointless.
We can be cruel to ourselves similarly if we choose to live without a sense of purpose. Regardless of the purpose, if one picks a direction or goal he finds worthy, his sense of self will be positively impacted. Ask yourself what you find meaningful and dedicate your overall efforts towards this overarching belief.
Having integrity is the opposite of living hypocritically. If your actions and beliefs do not match, your internal critic sees you as a fundamentally dishonest person. This interferes with your self-esteem. On the other hand, if you live by a set of principles and act and speak in alignment with them, you have a high self-esteem level.
Do What You Previously Thought Impossible
Having high self-esteem is only difficult because of the limiting beliefs one has regarding the self. You can overcome your previous self-opinion by pushing yourself to do something you previously thought you couldn’t. While this is simple, it is not easy. You have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone, but all it takes is one small win to get you to believe in yourself more.
Learn and Grow Every Day
Investors park their money in assets they have a lot of confidence in. How do you think they treat an asset with a long-term history of appreciating over time? Be it specific real estate, certain precious metals; if investors see that an asset only grows in value across time, they have more confidence in it. When you learn and improve yourself daily, you become an appreciating asset. This leads you to be more confident in yourself.
Have a Positive Social Circle
Every thought you have about yourself was put in your head by someone else. With that in mind, you can see the importance of having the right people around you when you’re en route to improving your self-image.
While you do not want to rely entirely on others’ approval to feel good about yourself, you certainly don’t want to fight battles with your internal critic and critical people around you at the same time. Distance yourself from those who make you feel bad and keep the company of those who feel good about themselves and make you feel good in the process as well.
Declare Your Nervousness
Nervousness is the beginning of a downward cycle in poor communication. When you’re nervous, you may try to hide this state. However, when humans feel like they’re hiding something, they instantly undercut their confidence. This can lead to even more nervousness.
To take the batteries out of this downward vehicle, simply say, “I’m a little nervous about this.” This can diffuse the weight you may have previously placed on nervousness.
Self-esteem is essential to a positive life experience as much as it is important to communicate with clarity. Here is a recap of what you can do to improve it:
- Live in the moment
- Accept your flaws
- Be responsible for yourself
- Do not say things you don’t believe
- Have a purpose for doing things
- Don’t act against your principles
- Do things you’ve never done
- Educate yourself daily
- Make positive friends
- Let people know when you’re nervous