Communication styles are personality traits that influence how we interact with other people. Each person has a dominant style, and our personality influences our preferred way of communicating. Based on the level of dominance (I win) and sociability (you win) there are 4 basic communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.
4 Communication Styles
1. Passive (I lose, you win)
The passive style is characterized by a lack of emotion or energy. It includes people who don't feel like they have any say in how things turn out. A person with this type of communication may seem calm on the surface, but inside he or she might be feeling frustrated or angry.
This type of communication can include silence, denial, avoidance, procrastination and non-commitment. In general, they're not very good at expressing themselves verbally. The passive individual will rarely initiate conversations. Instead, you'll find that they wait for others to speak first. They also avoid conflict.
2. Aggressive (I win, you lose)
People with this style of personality tend to take charge and make their own decisions. Aggressive communicators are more likely to argue for their rights and opinions. When they encounter problems, they tend to blame others rather than accept responsibility for their actions. Aggressive may become angry when someone else takes control of an interaction.
3. Passive-aggressive (I lose, you lose)
People with this type of personality tend toward manipulation and deception. They can appear friendly but actually, mean something different behind closed doors. These types of individuals will attempt to get what they want through indirect means. They can be charming and very persuasive, but it's not always easy to tell if they're telling the truth. Passive-aggressive are able to hide their true emotions from other people.
4. Assertive (I win, you win)
This style involves expressing your feelings clearly and directly, even though you might feel uncomfortable doing so. Assertive communicators usually don't hesitate to speak up when they feel strongly about something. This style tends to lead to better relationships.
Here are some common phrases that relate to each of the four communication styles.
1. Passive Communicator (I lose, you win)
"I'd like to discuss ______."
"How would you prefer I handle ______?"
"What do you think should happen next?"
"Can you help me out with this problem?"
"Are you sure you don't want to consider_________?"
"I'm sorry if I offended you."
"Can you forgive me?"
"I'll do whatever you ask me to do."
"No one ever listens to me anyway."
2. Aggressive Communicator (I win, you lose)
"We need to talk."
"That was uncalled for."
"Let's agree to disagree."
"There's no reason to be upset."
"What's going on here?"
"Do you realize what you just asked me to do?"
"I'm tired of dealing with your attitude."
3. Passive-aggressive Communicator (I lose, you lose)
"You seem to be having a hard time accepting reality."
"I understand how you feel, but..."
"You said you were willing to compromise."
"You never listen to me."
"Is that really necessary?"
"I think you've misunderstood me."
4. Assertive Communicator (I win, you win)
"Can we try to find a solution?"
"Can you clarify what you meant?"
"I'm interested in hearing your thoughts."
"I'm glad you brought this issue to my attention."
"I respect your opinion."
"I appreciate your input."
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Why Do We Use Certain Communication Styles?
Communication styles aren’t always conscious choices. In fact, many times we don't realize that our behaviours or attitudes stem from certain styles until much later in life. Some communication styles are innate; others develop over time.
While it's impossible to predict exactly which communication style an individual will adopt, research shows that factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, culture and education play a role. It's also possible that genetics could influence one's choice of communication style.
When you understand your own communication style, you can develop more effective ways to communicate with others. You will find that being able to clearly express yourself in a way that works for everyone involved is easier than ever before.