Sometimes it’s not just what is being but how it is being said that matters. Communication styles are the “how” of it when it comes to interaction with people. There are 4 communication styles and understanding them can give you the edge in communicating with people be it in business or personal settings. Understanding how to pick up each communication style and how to react to them can make you a very potent communicator and help you get the best out of different types of people.


Passive communicators tend to show indifference and easily yield to others in communication. They can be described as passengers and are driven to avoid confrontation. They do not communicate their feelings or agendas in interaction and will often use statements such as “it’s up to you”, “it really doesn’t matter that much” and “it’s not important”. While they may seem like they are willing to along with any and everything, there is the possibility of building up anger and resentment in the process.


The aggressive communicator tends to Express themself in a demanding manner. Using the possessive “I” a lot you can spot this one by how much ownership they take in conversations. “I was right”, “I have a great idea we should work on” and “I’m going out for lunch, let’s go”. Tye aggressive communicator while ready to communicate their feelings may seem oblivious to the feelings of others or the fact that others even have feelings. Even when presented with team tasks or in a negotiation that involves others they will stick to their use of I. You can also tell by their constant desire to hold eye contact while speaking.


Passive-aggressive communicators may seem passive on the surface but in reality, they may be festering with contempt inside. They may have very strong feelings about a subject but choose to withhold only to speak below their breath or to someone else about the issue later on. “Ok, we will do it your way but don’t be surprised if others don’t agree” and similar statements which appear to be in agreement but are making disagreement deep down inside are their way. They also tend to use imaginary third parties to show their disapproval citing the others, people, friends, colleagues and so on. The trouble with passive-aggressive communicators is that they will tend to share their opinions with others. This can easily turn ugly in a workplace setting.


Assertive communicators can fully Express their own needs while also considering the needs of others. They are the middle ground and often considered to be the desired kind of communicators. While they also use the possessive “I” they do so within the bounds of their own feelings and obligations and not to impose on others. They will also use “we” in group settings. “We are equally entitled to express ourselves” and “let’s see if we can agree on the way forward” are the sort of things you will hear them say. The assertive communicator importantly brings out the best in the passive and passive-aggressive communicators because they bring their feelings into the discussion.

The communication styles, however, are not fixed, one individual may take on different styles of communication depending on who they are communicating with and the power dynamic. You k ow that colleague who had many words for management after work or away from the office at lunchtime but became passive in the workplace. This makes it difficult to reduce a person to one communication style. However, it does help us understand the type of communication we are being subjected to and position better for it.