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Communication Styles: Which One Are You?

Communication is an important aspect of daily life. Every single day, you communicate with someone. Although everyone uses communication, not everyone uses the same communication style. In fact, there are four different styles of communication, which includes passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.

If you often feel that communication is a problem for you, you might be using one of the less favored styles. Identifying which of the communication styles you use can help you work on your communication skills so you can communicate more effectively with others.

Passive

Passive communicators often go to great lengths to avoid expressing their feelings and opinions. As such, a passive communicator often fails to stand up for his or her rights. If you are a passive communicator, you might fail to meet your needs or the needs of others through communication.

You can usually identify a passive communicator through their posture. For instance, if you are a passive communicator, you may speak very softly. You may also often use apologetic phrases when speaking. Also, passive speakers often avoid making eye contact, and they tend to display a somewhat slumped or hunched over posture.

When it comes to communication styles, you will discover that a passive speaker often uses phrases such as:

“It really doesn’t matter to me. It’s whatever your prefer.’”

“I would much rather just maintain peace.”

Although maintaining peace is good, that does not mean you should let someone take advantage of you. It is also okay to consider what someone else wants to do, but you do not have to concede every single time a situation arises. Instead, you should work together to come up with an amicable agreement on a situation.

Aggressive

As far as communication styles, aggressive forms of communication are often harmful toward others. You can tell almost right away when a person is an aggressive communicator. You can hear it in the way they speak, see it in the way they act, and you may even feel it depending on the impact of their words and tone of their voice.

Aggressive communicators often speak loudly using an emphasized tone of voice. Furthermore, they are often demanding, caring more for their own needs rather than the needs of others. A person who uses aggressive communication has no trouble holding eye contact, though they often do so intensely as a way of dominating the conversation or intimidating the other person.

A person who speaks aggressively may use phrases such as,

“Everything is always your fault.”

“I am always right.”

Passive-Aggressive

Passive-aggressive communication is no better than either passive or aggressive communication. In fact, all three styles of communication can lead to difficulty. A person who uses passive-aggressive communication often appears passive on the surface, but they are often aggressive at their core.

Passive-aggressive speakers often feel a sense of powerlessness, which makes them feel weak. As a result, they develop a form of resentment, regret, and sometimes hatred. As such, they will indirectly act out aggressively. A passive-aggressive communicator may seem agreeable to you but will mutter quietly to themselves rather than speaking up and confronting people or issues.

A passive-aggressive speaker may say things like,

“I think your idea is fantastic!” (then proceeds to mumble to self “your idea is awful”)

“I think that is a good idea, but others may not feel that way.” (Others the person is referring to is his or her ownself).

Assertive

Finally, of all the communication styles, you have assertive, which is by far the best of them all. Assertive speakers are able to communicate their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly. They are more than happy to speak up if there is something they do not like or agree with, but they take the thoughts and feeling of others into consideration.

Assertive speakers keep the lines of communication open. They are willing to convey their thoughts and feelings, but they are also willing to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others. They can speak without dominating the conversation or seeming overbearing. Assertive communicators often use “I” phrases, too, which allows for better communication overall.

Phrases commonly used by assertive speakers include,

“My choices are my own, and I accept that.”

“I respect your thoughts and feelings.”

“I believe we are each entititled to our own opinions.”

To ensure that you communicate assertively, make it a point to use “I” statements more frequently. You should own the statements you make and your strengths as well as your flaws. Also, make sure you maintain eye contact with the person you are speaking to. Ensure that your tone of voice expresses your desires in a confident manner. Finally, learn that saying “no” is okay.

Now that you understand the different methods of communication, can you identify which one you are? If you find that you are anything but an assertive communicator, you should consider seeking assistance from a therapist. A therapist can provide different ways to help you improve your communication skills.

Monica Ramunda is a cognitive behavioral therapist with offices located in Louisville and Denver, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).