The way we communicate with others is crucial, especially when dealing with a loved one who suffers from problem gambling. Learning to speak assertively is essential when living with a problem gambler and feeling lost in the chaos. Many people struggle with asking for what they need and saying “no” when necessary. It’s important to remember that assertive behavior allows a person to stand up for themselves without causing undue anxiety or denying the rights of others.
Effective communication involves using tone of voice, eye contact, body language, and words thoughtfully. For those living with a compulsive gambler, this can be challenging due to the roller coaster of emotions involved. The goal of assertive communication is to express oneself directly and honestly without intentionally hurting anyone’s feelings.
To understand the difference between passive, assertive, and aggressive communication, consider the contrasting behaviors in the table below. Passive communication involves avoiding speaking up, while aggressive communication often involves expressing oneself with irritation or anger. In contrast, assertive communication allows individuals to express themselves clearly and confidently while taking into account both their own and others’ needs.
Another negative form of communication is passive aggression, which includes behaviors like sarcasm, silent treatment, and expressing feelings non-verbally.
Learning to speak assertively involves using “I” statements instead of “YOU” statements. For example, saying “I hear what you are saying, and I cannot add that to my plate right now” is more effective than starting a sentence with “YOU.” It’s important to practice breaking reactive habits and learning to communicate assertively.
It’s important to remember that individuals living with problem gamblers have resources available to them for support. Services like the 888-ADMIT-IT helpline offer confidential, multilingual support for those dealing with the impact of problem gambling on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and seek the support you need.