Interestingly, most communication experts collapse all communication styles into three or four distinct engagement or responsive types.. These different communication styles are:
- Assertive Communication
- Aggressive Communication
- Passive Communication
- Passive-Aggressive Communication
How can we recognize each of these? How can we embrace or avoid the ideal?
1. Assertive Communication
Assertive means “to have a confident and a forceful personality”.
The assertive style is considered to be the most effective communication style. It’s how we naturally express ourselves when our self-esteem is healthy and intact. It needs to be separated from an ‘aggressive’ style which tends to be repelled as opposed to being accepted.
- How It Makes Others Feel: equally valued, mutually respected, equally important.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Verbally: with a confident tone, assuming responsibility.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Non-Verbally: with confidence, with direct eye contact, with a relaxed persona.
- Consequences: a confident self-esteem, a respect for others, respected by others.
Assertive people always work towards mutually beneficial solutions. They communicate confidently and with great clarity. Assertive communicators are steadfast and not easily shaken; they are grounded by a true inner confidence. It is measured by the degree a person is able to get their needs met in a trust based manner. Sadly, the assertive style is used least of all the communication styles.
2. Aggressive Communication
Aggressive means “ready or likely to attack or confront”.
The aggressive communication style is bold yet intemperate, and willing to violate the rights of others for the sake of one’s own personal cause. Fear and intimidation are the tools of the aggressive communicator. To the aggressive communicator, it is important that they gets their way, no matter what the cost.
This is where trust suffers because trust instills a win – win attitude.
- How It Makes Others Feel: unimportant, inferior, of less value than the aggressor.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Verbally: with brutal honesty, loudly, strongly, overpoweringly, and directed with the responsibility on the subject and not on the speaker, who is intent to be on the winning side of a win/lose situation.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Non-Verbally: with glares or stares, with aggressive eye contact, with finger pointing.
- Consequences: It causes others to fear you. You will not gain the respect of others, and you will lose the respect of people who did hold you in esteem. you will probably be judged as untrustworthy..and pay the price.
3. Passive Communication
Passive means “accepting or allowing what others do, without active response or resistance”.
Passive communicators always hope to avoid confrontation. They are often referred to as “pushovers”. They feel their opinions and contributions can wait and, if necessary, not be considered at all. Passive people don’t willingly talk much in big groups.
- How It Makes Others Feel: You are inferior to them. What is valuable to you is not as important as what is valuable to them. You matter less.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Verbally: timidly, with a soft tone, tentative and apologetic.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Non-Verbally: with minimal eye contact, avoiding direct visual connection.
- Consequences: disrespected by others, pitied by others, low self-esteem.
This communication style also suffers from a degree of distrust because people just don’t know where they stand.
4. Passive-Aggressive Communication
Passive-Aggressive defined as “characterized by indirect resistance to the demands of others and an avoidance of direct confrontation”. Will the real YOU stand up?
Passive-Aggressive communicators can seem two-faced. You ask them how they are doing and they respond pleasantly. However below the surface, they are mad at you and want to hit back. They want to resolve conflict, but can’t always find the strength directly. Instead, they show their aggression in indirect ways.
- How It Makes Others Feel: unsure, confused, nervous.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Verbally: unassuming, tentative.
- How It Is Most Often Expressed Non-Verbally: with aggressive eyes and cold gestures, with smirks and glares.
- Consequences: You won’t be trusted. You’ll earn a reputation for being “two-faced”. Others will fear you, and still others will distance themselves from you. At best you’ll seem mysterious.
The most surprising thing about the four communication styles is there is only one that is defined in a positive light; the assertive style. The assertive style includes just the right blend of confidence, empathy, strength, and consideration of others to ensure success. The other styles are imbalanced.
Each of us face the challenge of: how do we learn to communicate assertively to build clarity, buy-in and trust at home, socially as well as in the workplace?
For more information on communication, visit Integro Performance Group.