First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak. ~Epictetus
Communication is a rather deep topic. It involves perceptions, belief systems, learned behaviours, self-esteem, to only name a few. More often than not, we each fall into one of four communication styles. Being aware of our communication style gives us the upper hand in working towards a more healthy communication style. Of course, you may see yourself a little in each of the categories, but we essential want to strive to be assertive communicators!
The aggressive communicator is the communication bully. They often over-power the conversations and don’t allow others to have their say. They will aggressively ‘dump’ their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in the laps of others and walk away, not caring about the clean-up. The aggressive communicator loves verbal weapons! They use foul language, loud yelling, name calling, rhetorical questions, sarcasm and you-statements to defend their position. The aggressive communicator frequently changes partners and friendships, as they isolate themselves with these poor communication techniques.
The aggressive communicator needs to learn how to turn on their mental filter. “I don’t care,” the typical dysfunctional thought of an aggressive communicator, can be changed to “I do care, stop and think before you speak!” They can practice active listening by using a pen and paper to write down their thoughts while the other party is speaking and they can practice ‘the pause’ by literally thinking for 30 seconds to one minute before reacting.
The passive communicator is the bullied of the communication. They are the proverbial pressure cooker, stuffing all of their thoughts and emotions down by not expressing themselves clearly. Whether they were the shy kid who never fully developed their communication skills, or they have taught themselves over the years to hold everything in, this communication style is just as unhealthy as the aggressive communication style.
The passive communicator needs to remember that they have personal assertive rights and to stand up for them. It’s ok to say no, speak your mind, and have a say in decisions! “Hmmm” and “I’m not mad,” the typical dysfunctional sayings of a passive communicator, can be changed to “I feel/think that___,” and “Yes, I’m mad, but I want to think about it some more before talking about it.” They can practice eye contact while speaking to others and acting out a conversation before having it.
Take the passive communication style above and add the explosion of the aggressive communication style above that and we have the passive-aggressive communicator! As mentioned above, the passive communicator is the proverbial pressure cooker, when the lid blows, it blows aggressively! The key here is to catch the passive communication style when it’s happening so that it doesn’t lead to the aggression.
The assertive communicator assumes that we all have rights that need to be respected. They practice empathy, active listening, choose their words wisely, understanding all of the information about the situation before commenting, and use their I-statements. They express themselves clearly and calmly without offending the other party. They make sure that their personal needs are met without walking all over those of another. If all of their needs are not able to be met then they are able to compromise and have some of them met, while meeting some of the other party’s needs. Arguments and conflicts are non-issues for the assertive communicator!
WHAT TYPE OF A COMMUNICATOR ARE YOU? I'd love to hear your comments!
I am the founder of The Anger Managers, a clinic that provides court-approved psycho-educational courses and workshops to individuals and corporations