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How Do You Communicate? 4 Types of Communication Styles

This past week, my psychotherapy group and I explored communication styles and its influence on our mental health and wellbeing. Together we explored answers to questions such as:

  • What is your communication style?

  • Are you passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, or assertive?

  • When do you behave nonassertively?

  • Who are the people with whom you are nonassertive?

  • Why are you hesitant to be assertive?

We all have a unique way in which we interact and exchange information with other people. For our blog article this week, I thought it would be fun to bring to my dear readers an exploration of the 4 types of communication styles. Together we will break down the four communication styles by examining the characteristics of each style.


In this communication style, individuals do not fully express their feelings or thoughts. They tend to avoid communicating their needs or desires to others and may say yes to everything. Because they don't convey their thoughts, concerns, or ideas, it is easier for a person with a passive communication style to be taken advantage of. Others may also communicate to them in disparaging or harmful ways. The response of a passive communicator can be to be unnecessarily apologetic. Eventually a tipping point may be reached and the passive communicator, unable to withstand any further humiliation or disparaging remarks, will explode to what may be deemed to a small or insignificant event or matter. Disadvantages of using a passive style are lowered self-esteem and a feeling that one has to live with the decisions of others.


In this communication style, individuals express their opinions, feelings, and wants honestly. However, the way in which they express themselves is unappealing and often at the expense of someone else's feelings. An aggressive communicator fails to listen to others' viewpoints, often doesn't allow others to finish their thought before they interject, uses blaming language, and often shouts. Disadvantages of using an aggressive style is that these individuals often make enemies and others end up behaving dishonestly towards them in order to avoid confrontations.


In this communication style, individuals appear to be passive but within they may feel powerless and there tends to be a buildup of resentment. A passive-aggressive communicator may mutter to themselves rather than confront a person directly. They have difficulty with acknowledging their anger and their body language often does not correlate with how they really feel. These ones may even deny there is a problem. They may give someone the silent treatment (boy am I guilty here with the silent treatment). Other characteristics include spreading rumors behind people's backs or appearing to be cooperative but silently doing the opposite. Disadvantages of using a passive-aggressive style is that it leads to peer confusion and frustration.


In this communication style, individuals clearly state their opinions, feelings, and wants but not at the expense of other people's feelings or rights. Assertive communicators recognize that communication is a two-way street. This style of communication is the most empowering because you clearly communicate what you need without resorting to insulting, criticizing, or talking down to others. The mindset here is, "You and I may have our differences, but we are equally entitled to express ourselves to one another." Assertive communication is thought to be the most effective form of communication.

Now that we know the 4 types of communication styles have you discovered your style? Or do you find that your style varies based on situation or person? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Understanding both how you and others communicate can be a key to getting your messages across effectively. In order to develop a more assertive style there are a few more tools you'll need in your toolbox. Whenever you are ready, you can schedule a personal coaching session to get you on the road to improved communication. And please remember, as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.

"If truth doesn't set you free, generosity of spirit will. ~Katerina Stoykova Klemer

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