two boys communicating with two cans with strings between themEach of us has many roles in life. You may be an artist, parent, significant other, friend, entrepreneur, healer, or lover of life. When you know the five communication styles, you can identify your style and the style of the people you are dealing with.

Robin watched her friend with envy. The other woman was an entrepreneur, and new opportunities came her way daily. The same friend also had a fulfilling marriage, close relationships with her children, and friends who adored her and supported her no matter what.

One day, Robin asked her friend what her secret was. How had she accomplished so much in her business and life? How had she managed to develop and sustain close relationships?

Her friend’s answer surprised her. She told Robin that she worked continuously on strengthening her communication skills.

While you may not realize it, how you communicate affects every area of your life. From your business to your family relationships and friendships, communication is something you’re constantly doing.

Yet many people aren’t good at communicating. They use harmful communication traits without even realizing it.

There are five basic communication approaches, and understanding them can be incredibly helpful in improving your communication. Here’s what you need to know about these styles…

The Aggressive Communicator

Denise worked as a hospital administrator. Despite working there for four years, she couldn’t get a promotion, and most of her co-workers avoided her.

She was miserable, but she didn’t know what the problem was. It took a mentor lovingly pointing out that Denise was an aggressive communicator before she realized she needed to make some changes.

Aggressive communicators often appear explosive, belligerent, abrasive, and demanding. Sometimes, co-workers and families even label this person a “bully,” “bulldozer,” or “tyrant.” These terms can be deeply hurtful and make it even harder for an aggressive communicator to acknowledge the issue.

Communicators who rely on aggression may invade other people’s space, talk over them, and speak loudly, even shouting or yelling.

While the aggressive communicator is heard, they’re rarely listened to. That’s because family members, friends, and co-workers often lose respect for the aggressor.

An aggressive communication style is about winning at the expense of others. Aggressive communicators often dominate others and tend to speak loudly or interrupt. This approach can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.

The Passive Communicator

Carolyn grew up with a mother who was an aggressive communicator. As a result, she hated conflict and became a passive communicator. She often “went with the flow” and let others decide what would happen.

She thought she was doing right by relying on this communication method. But the problem came when Carolyn was planning a family vacation and realized every family member could do what they wanted…except for her. She started paying attention and found she was often resentful and angry toward others for not meeting her needs.

Passive communicators (sometimes called submissive communicators) rely on others to guess what they want or need. Then, when those around them fail to do this correctly, they become irritated and bitter. Sometimes, co-workers and families label this person as a “martyr” or “victim.”

Communicators who rely on passiveness often defer to others. They won’t state what they want directly. They might even say, “Oh, don’t worry about me. I’ll go along with whatever you want to do. You choose—I don’t have a preference.”

While passive communicators might appear pleasant and easy-going, they’re usually seething under the surface. Years of unfulfilled needs have left them angry and frustrated.

Passive communicators usually fail to express their feelings or needs, allowing others to express themselves. Over time, this can lead to frustration and a buildup of unspoken feelings.

The Passive Aggressive Communicator

Jill was put on a team at work. She disliked the team leader, Tom, who was an aggressive communicator who bullied everyone else. She followed Tom’s suggestions during meetings and in front of everyone else. However, while working on the actual project, she purposely undermined Tom in several ways to embarrass him.

When the project was finished, the company considered it a disaster. Tom was transferred to a different division, and while no one found out about Jill’s actions, the project's failure meant she didn’t receive a promotion or a raise that year.

Passive-aggressive communicators are two-faced. They will say one thing and then do the opposite once alone. Often, passive-aggressive communicators feel they have no real power in a situation, so their behavior is an attempt to lash out and “punish” the person they feel is in control. Sometimes, they do this to the detriment of their careers and relationships, as Jill did.

Like passive communicators, passive-aggressive ones seem good-natured and agreeable on the surface. But they’re usually working behind the scenes to unravel the goals and plans of those around them.

A passive-aggressive communicator often feels powerless and expresses anger indirectly, such as through sarcasm, backhanded compliments, or subtly obstructive behavior.

The Manipulative Communicator

Sheila was the only girl born into her family. Her older brothers doted on her, and her parents adored her. She quickly learned that she only had to produce fake tears or get others to feel sorry for her when she wanted something. Unfortunately, her loving family reinforced this behavior without stopping to analyze it.

As an adult, Sheila relied on manipulation in her job and marriage to achieve her goals. While she certainly got what she wanted, she wasn’t always well-liked, which hurt her.

Manipulative communicators are focused on getting what they want—regardless of the cost to anyone else. They often use sarcasm, fake tears, sulking, guilting others, and silent treatment when communicating.

They are similar to passive-aggressive communicators. However, the most significant difference is that manipulative communicators are less likely to engage in self-destructive actions. Instead, they wait for the right opportunity and time to move and achieve their end game.

Communicating manipulatively involves controlling or influencing others in a subtle, deceptive way. The intent is often to deceive or promote self-interest without regard for others.

The Assertive Communicator

Tracey’s friend called and asked to take her out to coffee. But Tracey was in the middle of a chronic pain flare-up. She had planned to take the evening off and read a book. She knew the relaxation would help significantly reduce her pain in the coming days.

At first, Tracey was tempted to agree out of guilt. Then, she decided to be assertive instead. She said, “I have plans for some self-care this evening. But I can meet with you tomorrow afternoon.”

Assertive communicators confidently own their needs. They lovingly set boundaries and don’t allow others to run over them. At the same time, they respect the boundaries of those around them and actively look for win-win scenarios in their relationships.

They are excellent communicators who focus on the issue rather than attacking the other person. They state what they want while staying open to the possibility that their need may not be met.

Assertive communication is the most effective and healthiest form of communication. The assertive style features open communication channels without being overbearing. Assertive communicators express their own needs and views clearly and respectfully while also considering the rights and opinions of others.

Identifying Communication Styles

To identify someone's communication style, observe these cues:

  • Verbal cues: Pay attention to the words they choose, their tone, and their assertiveness in expressing their views.
  • Non-verbal cues: Note their body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.
  • Responses to stress: People often revert to their most natural communication style under pressure.

Tips for Communicating with Each Style

  • Assertive: Be direct and straightforward. Respect their need for honesty and straightforwardness.
  • Aggressive: Stay calm, do not respond aggressively, and set clear boundaries.
  • Passive: Encourage open communication and reassure them that their opinions are valued.
  • Passive-Aggressive: Address the underlying issues directly and encourage open dialogue to discuss hidden concerns.
  • Manipulative: Keep communication factual and straightforward. Avoid emotional responses and stick to logical arguments.

Benefits of Knowing Your Communication Style

  • Enhanced Self-awareness: Understanding your style helps you recognize your strengths and areas for improvement. It allows you to see how others might perceive your mode of communication.
  • Improved Relationships: By knowing your communication style, you can adapt your interactions to better connect with others, reducing conflicts and misunderstandings.
  • Effective Leadership: Leaders who understand their communication style can lead more effectively by adapting their approach to suit the needs of their team, fostering a supportive and productive environment.
  • Increased Confidence: When you understand your communication style, you can express yourself more clearly and confidently, which is especially important in professional settings.
  • Better Conflict Resolution: Knowing your communication style can help you constructively handle conflicts. Recognizing the styles of others also allows you to approach disputes with a more effective strategy.
  • Enhanced Persuasive Skills: When you know your communication style, you can tailor your messages to be more persuasive and impactful,.

What Style of Communication Do You Use?

Reviewing the five communication styles can open your eyes to some uncomfortable truths. You may realize you’ve been using a style that isn’t creating what you want in your relationships.

But keep in mind that the purpose of learning your communication style isn’t to beat yourself up for your failures or flaws. Instead, the goal is to learn to embrace a healthier communication style.

You may find it helpful to reach out to a loving mentor or supportive friend who can hold you accountable as you learn to embrace assertive communication. They can give you feedback and help you navigate this change.

Above all, you must be patient with yourself. If you’re like most people, you’ve used the same communication style for decades, and it’s easy to slip back into old habits. If you find that happening, give yourself grace and focus on beginning again.

Investing time to understand and develop your communication style creates opportunities for more meaningful and effective interactions. This awareness helps in personal growth and professional growth.

Knowing your communication style is not just about making yourself heard; it’s about making meaningful connections, leading effectively, and living fully in all the roles you embody.

Nancy Dadami is an Intentional Creativity Guide, Feng Shui Specialist, and cheerleader for your dreams. Her passion is to empower seekers, conscious creators, healers, and entrepreneurs called to expansion, education, and freedom. This results in living the best version of themselves, creating a life of abundance, self-awareness, purpose, and inner peace. Sign up for my ezine on my website

5 Communication Styles: Do You Know Who You Are Dealing With?

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