Communication styles can make or break any relationship. Communication is a complicated process that takes place between two or more people.
The idea is that individuals process information differently, which means what comes across to one person as rude, another person might not perceive it that way.
Communication doesn’t have to stop there though – you can use communication styles theory to better your relationships and interactions with others.
This article provides a rundown of this theory – what it is, how communication styles differ from one person to another, their benefits, examples, and helpful tips to improve your communication skills.
Overview: What Are Communication Styles?
Communication styles are how we communicate with others and how others communicate with us. Communication styles change as we develop relationships.
Human beings are capable of using all of the possible communication styles in order to convey their thoughts, emotions, or desires. At the same time, some people find it easier to communicate using certain styles than others do.
Ever tell someone something and it goes over like a lead balloon? They don’t respond the way you wanted. Is this because you didn’t communicate in the way they preferred? Or do they just not “get” what you are saying?
Communication is a part art form, part science. It’s both an art (your words) and science (how those words get perceived by others). Some people interpret your words one way while others interpret them another way.
If you want to make sure your message gets across the way you want it to be perceived, you’ll want to know the different communication styles and how each impacts the other person when they are in a conversation.
What Are the Types of Communications Styles Available?
1. Passive communication style
The passive communication style is also known as the indirect communication style. It occurs when the communication is general and not very specific. The person is less assertive in his speech while you tend to show more emotions.
If you’re a writer like myself, most often, you’ll try to avoid using “passive communication”. That is, the type of communication that “hides” who did what and instead it uses ambiguous language like “it is believed that…” or “it has been reported that…”.
It turns out this type of communication isn’t as bad as people often see it to be. However, those who speak passively tend to give in to others and have difficulty expressing themselves.
Examples of Passive Communication phrases
- Things she continues to say really bothers me, but have got nothing to say to her.
- I should listen to you I guess because you seem to be much smarter than I am.
- Just go ahead, after all, whatever I say isn’t important in any anyway.
- You’re right, I shouldn’t have said that. I’m not good at it.
Benefits of Passive Communication Style
- It helps avoid conflict in the short term
- It helps alleviate anxiety in the short term
- People perceive you as being selfless
- Others tend to get your back
Disadvantages of Passive Communication Style
- Others we often ride on you
- Anger or frustration repression can lead to inappropriate anger outbursts
- Not good for your self-esteem
2. Assertive communication style
Ever met someone who is an expert communicator? Maybe it was someone in an important position at your company, or maybe it was a family friend.
No matter what the situation was, one thing is certain – that person had an air about him/her that gave off strong signals of leadership.
The assertive communication style is a way for people to communicate in an honest and direct way about the issues that are important to them.
When you are assertive, you are rock-solid and steady. You can back up your statements with facts and logic. When others disagree with you, they cannot force you to retreat. You feel comfortable with the way you communicate and know that it is an effective way to connect with people.
Examples of Assertive Communication Phrases
- I am responsible for whatever happens thereafter
- Next week, I’d appreciate it if you come with her
- I believe we should all express ourselves respectfully and honestly
Benefits of Assertive Communication Style
- Assertive communication often has high self-esteem
- People will quickly get to know where you stand in every situation
- Anger and frustration will be less likely to build up
- People can hardly take advantage of you
Disadvantages of Assertive Communication Style
- It’s hard to understand that not all situation requires assertiveness
- You feel disappointed when you don’t get what you want
3. Aggressive communication style
An aggressive communication style has characteristics of anger, hostility, and negativity. It is one that creates conflict or tension where there was none before.
Sometimes, it might include offensive language, screaming, finger-pointing, and cursing.
This style of communication refers to a set of behaviors that place emphasis on getting what you want and make no room for the needs or opinions of others. It is one of the few types of unhealthy communication styles that shows in business settings.
However, depending on how you use it and people perceive it, an aggressive communication style in business can either motivate or demotivate people.
It is a fairly direct form of communication that avoids excessive politeness, euphemism and being indirect. But, because it’s straightforward, others may find an aggressive communication style upsetting and be put off by it.
Examples of Aggressive Communication Phrases
- It’s my way or the highway
- I’m always right
- In as much am there, no dare say such
- It’s my right
Benefits of Aggressive Communication Style
- It makes you feel powerful and in control
- It helps you to release tension
- Shows you to people as being less vulnerable
- You will most likely have your way always
Disadvantages of Assertive Communication Style
- Others feel resentment toward you
- You will have poor listening and interrupts frequently
- You might sometimes end up being guilty
- Having healthy and stable relationships may be difficult
4. Passive-aggressive Communication Style
A passive-aggressive communication style is usually passive in terms of its form (e.g., using silence to express displeasure), and aggressive in terms of its function (e.g., to make a partner feel guilty or hurt without being confrontational).
It is a covert but expressively aggressive way to communicate and the communication usually has aspects of whining, complaining, criticizing, and/or threatening.
You can recognize people who use passive-aggressive communication style with the following behaviors:
- They keep their feelings bottled up
- They don’t like confrontations
- Their actions don’t align with their words
- They are easily hurt
- They have difficulties acknowledging emotions
People with passive-aggressive communication styles employ indirect aggression in order to avoid confrontation. They feel the need to hide their true feelings, leading them to bend or distort the truth. They are masters of disguise and manipulation.
Examples of Passive-aggressive Communication Phrases
- You’re so lucky you got the deal
- I don’t mean to be rude
- That was a surprisingly good decision
- You’re too sensitive
- If that’s what you want to do
Benefits of Passive-aggressive Communication Style
- You’re less likely to be seen as offensive
- Save time and resources, avoid confrontation
- You won’t be seen as aggressive
- Don’t have to take responsibility for mistakes or feelings
- You can send a message without ruffling any other person’s feathers
Disadvantages of Passive-aggressive Communication Style
- Difficult for people to know what you are truly feeling
- Often end up destroying beautiful relationships
5. Manipulative Communication Style
In the simplest form, Manipulative Communication styles are used to manipulate the perception, belief, thinking, and/or behavior of others.
A manipulative communication style gets a person to change their behavior or decisions by using begrudging, emotional, accusing, and/or disapproving language.
Though many do not regard this as one of the communication styles, it is. Every day it is used unknowingly by spouses, friends, colleagues, and sometimes at an escalating scale by ex-spouses, stalkers, bullies, and sexual abusers.
Simply from the name, you know what it is and obviously, there’s no point talking about its benefits and disadvantage. What’s important is knowing how to avoid manipulative communicators.
Why Should You Know Your Communication Style?
Communication is an integral part of human beings, and it is essential for every man. There are various different forms of communication, and everyone has their own unique style.
Identifying your communication style is important for several reasons. First, learning your own style helps you understand why you may sometimes feel uncomfortable with the way certain people communicate.
If someone else has a very different style from yours, his or her preferred communication technique may be disconcerting or confusing to you, especially if you aren’t exposed to it very often.
Once you’ve learned how your preferred style contributes to the ways you interpret and respond to others, you’ll know how to broaden your range of responses to accommodate your colleagues’ preferences. This will set the stage for improved understanding and collegiality.
In conclusion, knowing what your own style is can help you to create stronger relationships with friends and family, as well as colleagues at work.
4 Effective Way To Improve Your Communication Skills?
1. Don’t take everything personal
Of the many things you can do to improve your communication skills, one of the most important is to make sure you’re not taking everything personally. Though it may seem inviting, don’t take this suggestion literally.
If someone tells you that your favorite shoes are ugly, it doesn’t mean you should wear them more! Instead, keep a professional tone of voice and try to understand where everyone else is coming from.
Effective communication is all about respect and making sure everyone feels at ease with one another.
2. Ask genuine questions
Genuine, open-ended questions help you to create meaningful connections with people very quickly. They also dramatically improve your ability to give a memorable answer when somebody asks you that dreaded question, ‘So tell me a little about yourself…’
Start with open-ended questions like, ‘What brought you here tonight?’, ‘What do you love about your job?’, or ‘How did you get interested in your field?’. The idea is to ask questions that show interest in the other person.
3. Listen to understand not respond
Do you seek first to understand, then to be understood? Few people do. The need to express ourselves (be heard) is so overwhelming that we often fail to really listen to others. Once we’re done speaking, we want to respond immediately (be understood).
When you’re able to listen to your employees, clients, and colleagues without bias, you can address their issues and concerns in a way that makes sense to them.
4. Make eye contact
Eye contact is crucial in establishing trust and rapport in a conversation. Try to make eye contact with the person you’re talking to, but don’t stare him or her down.
For making contact with a large group of people, try to alternate your gaze between their eyes and their nose so that you engage with everyone without staring at a single person for too long.
Good eye contact is a key part of effective communication. If you look down a lot or keep taking your eyes off someone, it shows them you’re not interested and makes them feel uncomfortable.
Communication Styles: FAQs
Is communication style important?
Yes. Your communication style will significantly affect your relationships at work and at home. The better you know yourself and the way you communicate, the easier it will be for you to communicate with people who have different styles.
How do you recognize different communication styles?
It may not be easy to spot someone’s communication style just by looking at them, but sometimes their body language will give them away. If a coworker is always criticizing others, this could be a sign that they’re an aggressive communicator.
What is an empathetic communicator?
An empathetic communicator is someone who listens effectively and can put themselves in others’ shoes – it’s an effective approach when trying to understand others or have a ‘win-win’ conversation.
Communication Styles: Conclusion
The key takeaway from reading this article is that different people react to communication styles in different ways. Some may be drawn to one style and some may dislike it, so there are certain communication styles for everybody out there.
You must know, communication is a two-way street, and your varying styles of communicating with others can impact how they communicate back with you.
By knowing what their style is, you can decide if it is appropriate or if you need to switch. While you may have one particular style that you favor, be sure to be open-minded when interacting with others.
I recommend you read this article on communication skills important in the workplace for you to stand out at work.
I hope you found this article helpful.
Thanks for reading