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The different types of communication styles

Updated July 20, 2017

Your communication style is the window to how the world perceives you. It affects your relationships, career and emotional well-being. Understanding your communication style allows you to work on aspects that can be viewed as negative and helps you strengthen the positive. There are four basic types used to describe communication styles.

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Passive

If you are a passive communicator, you avoid expressing your thoughts, feelings and opinions. When you do express yourself, it is often in an apologetic way that is disregarded by others. As a passive communicator, you allow others to take advantage of you and violate your rights. As a result you feel anxious, stuck and hopeless because you are out of control of your life. You may resent others since you are not getting your needs met. Your behaviour includes allowing others to dominate you, speaking softly with limited eye contact and using submissive body language. You may experience depression and confusion. You can become a stronger communicator by asserting yourself.

Aggressive

If you are an aggressive communicator, you stick up for yourself and your rights in a direct but inappropriate way. Your verbal communication can be abusive, infringing upon the rights of others. This results from a low self-esteem stemming from your own perceived lack of power. As an aggressive communicator, you try to dominate others and use threats, criticism,and blame to gain power. Your body language is overbearing, and you are quick to anger. As a result, you alienate others and feel out of control. You cannot get your needs met in a healthy way. You feel others owe you or that they are inferior. You have a sense of entitlement. To be a more effective communicator, express yourself directly and honestly and respect others.

Passive-Aggressive

If you are a passive-aggressive communicator, you do not deal directly with your problems. You appear to have no outward issues with others while indirectly expressing your anger and frustration. As a passive-aggressive communicator, you use sarcasm, denial and confusing body language. You may try to undermine or even sabotage others. As a result, you feel powerless and ineffective. You have a hard time gaining trust since others do not view you as stable or straightforward. You can increase the effectiveness of your communication by directly dealing with your issues.

Assertive

If you are an assertive communicator, you are effective at stating your thoughts and feelings in a clear and respectful manner. You deal with your problems without violating or alienating others. You tend to have a healthy, high self-esteem. As an assertive communicator, you use calm body language, self-control and active listening. As a result, you feel in control and others feel at ease and connected to you. You accept responsibility for your problems and choices and stand up for yourself. You do not try to control others. Assertive communication is the preferred style.

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About the Author

Terra Roher is a teacher and counselor. Her work has appeared on various websites, covering topics such as relationships and adolescent development. Roher is a member of the American Counseling Association and completed her Master of Education in guidance and counseling from City University of Seattle.

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