Feminist Friday speaker directs attendees through communication exercises


Logan Metzger/ Iowa State Daily

Feminist Friday speaker Shannon Coleman, assistant professor of food science and human nutrition, discussed with attendees how to cultivate assertive communication techniques Sept. 20.

Loretta Mcgraw

This Friday’s edition of Feminist Friday at the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity hosted weekly at 1 p.m., many a familiar face, both students, faculty and people throughout the community, gathered on campus.

The topic was “How to Navigate Assertive Communication and Professionalism” presented by Shannon Coleman, assistant professor for Food Science and Human Nutrition. The highlight of this presentation was the many group activities that were aimed to help attendees better differentiate the different forms of verbal communication. Passive, aggressive, assertive and the ever so often passive-aggressive tendencies people tend to embody.

Understanding the benefits of learning to practice assertive communication is key in meeting the needs of oneself and any other parties involved. This is a skill that may aid in a career, family life, or even with friends. Coleman recommended beginning in a personal format before jumping into the practice of this form of communication in a professional setting. The easiest way to train oneself in assertive communication by far is practice.

When in a conversation assess how the form of communication being used is either passive, aggressive, or assertive when communicating to start. Practicing is a tremendous part of improvement so to ensure growth one must at some point learn to say no. Coleman recommended not taking on more tasks than there is time to complete. Also keeping emotions from being expressed through the body’s language takes retraining just as achieving equity on campus takes putting in an effort.

“I did see something different here than I did see at some of my previous institutions,” Coleman said. “I did see a lot of women in leadership roles like my department chair, my extension boss, like even just watching us have a female president. I see that now going into a trend with other universities, so I was excited when Dr. Wintersteen became president of the university.”

Public speaking is not something that generally comes easily to anyone. Coleman said she likewise struggles with expressing things to groups of people sometimes, despite having a career in teaching. However, she said she does find it more simplistic and even comforting to talk to complete strangers than people she encounters or knows on a more advanced personal level.

“I was supposed to do this to help you guys, but you don’t know how much y’all just helped me,” Coleman said at the end of her presentation.

People affiliated with Iowa State can get more real-world training in assertive communication by registering for Iowa State‘s extension and outreach program at a fee. Depending on a person’s determination to improve their communication  this may be a good opportunity for any interested parties.