If you have found yourself getting stressed over a situation where you need to communicate, you are not alone. I regularly coach people who get extremely stressed over having to communicate because they lack basic communication skills. All of us need to be able to communicate our wants and needs in order to have meaningful and valid relationships and perform professionally. 

Reduce stress by being assertive and confident

The trick to effective communication though is to be able to do it without causing misunderstanding, conflict and withdrawal. People often get passive-aggressive in their communication when they lack the confidence and skills to get their message across.

When we are unable to assert ourselves to express our wants and needs we find ourselves in a conflicted situation. 

Different personalities have different communication

We often expect people to be similar to us in their thoughts, behaviour, and methods of communication, that is a mistake which leads to frustration and stress. It leads to people taking offence even when none was intended. Not comprehending that other people’s communication, behaviour and working styles can differ from our own is a sure road towards conflict.

Be authentic in your communication

Another common trap that people fall into is hiding behind a facade and being inauthentic for fear of exposing their lack of knowledge or experience. It is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers but that you will take the time to look into it. It is imperative that you ask questions with confidence and are open to listening.  Attentive listening is sometimes difficult to do, but it is crucial in order for communication to be effective. In situations where you feel angry, frustrated and offended and you find that the other person is irrational, illogical or unprofessional, stop, take a breath and ask yourself if you have fully understood the situation, if you are making assumptions or passing judgement and if you need to ask for clarification to fully understand what is being communicated. 

Say it in person

When there is a break in communication or one that is fraught with conflict and stress, you need to clarify the situation. Preferably in person or over the phone, ask questions that will enable you to understand the other person’s thoughts, feelings, impressions, plans and expectations. Perhaps the other person is not clear about a situation, needs more information and support or the situation just doesn’t work to their benefit. Asking questions will help you understand the situation better and behave differently with the person that you are working with. Difficult conversations are best done in person and not over email. 

Stronger email communication

When communicating through email, a good rule of thumb is to keep it within five lines. If you cannot contain it to five lines then short and concise bullet points are a preferable option. If not, it might need to be a more formal attached document or you will have to consider a one-on-one conversation. The content of your email must be in a format that can be quickly read and understood with a subject line that is relevant and succinct. An unclear subject line may leave your email unread.

These simple pointers can make a huge difference in avoiding confusion and conflict in your communication at work. Have you found effective strategies that improve your confidence and methods of communication? Let me know.


  •  Be assertive and confident in your communications
  •  Realize that people have different styles and methods of communication
  •  Be authentic in your communication
  • Be an open and attentive listener 
  • Ask for clarifications


  • Get stressed out when you are unable to communicate your message
  • Get passive-aggressive in your communications 
  •  Be afraid to say that you don’t know
  •  Be judgemental or make assumptions.
  •  Have difficult conversations over email

P.S. If you’re a Busy Working Woman and you’d like more advice, tips and information to minimise stress and maximise time, join our Facebook tribe of Busy Working Women Owning Their Lives.

Which one are you? Assertive, Passive, or Passive Aggressive?

If communication and relationships are causing you stress or anxiety, a stress management strategy session may work for you.

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About the Author:

Barbara Clifford (The Time Tamer) is a time management strategist and stress management practitioner based in Alice Springs, Australia.  She has spent over 20 years working in time precious and stressful industries such as film, hospitality and marketing.  She has always had a burning passion for creating order and making sense of things.

She is on a mission is to become the no.1 resource to help people unclutter the chaos and break free from the shackles of overwhelm so that they wake each day inspired and motivated to work in peak performance and to live on purpose. Barbara is known around Australia for her training, coaching, online programmes, webinars and as a guest speaker.

Her professional experience has included contracts with small business, Not For Profits, Aboriginal Organisations, Media, Marketing, Aged Care, Universities, Health Services and Cruise Ships.