Our unique upbringing and culture influence the way we communicate.

This leads to different communication styles. If we don't recognize these differences, it's easy to misunderstand each other.

Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash

4 Main Communication Styles

Most people have one dominant communication style, but we can go back and forth between them.


"It doesn't matter that much. I just want to keep the peace."

Passive communicators often act indifferently, letting others make decisions.

In this sense, they are easy to get along with as they follow others and "go with the flow," but because they often fail to outwardly express their feelings or needs, they are likely to avoid confrontation and defer to others in times of conflict.

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How might it be challenging to work with a passive communicator?


"I'm right and you're wrong. It's all your fault."

Aggressive communicators ensure you hear, see, and feel their words. They often dominate the conversation, maintain intense eye contact, and fail to listen to others.

As a result, they can be intimidating as they often come across as rude and commanding, but in times of conflict they can also be considered leaders and command the respect of those around then.

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Which of these behaviours reflects an aggressive communication style?

Passive Aggressive

"That's fine with me, but don't be surprised if someone else gets mad."

Passive-aggressive communicators often appear passive on the surface but act out aggressively in subtle ways. They are aware of their needs, but struggle to voice them effectively.

When faced with conflict, they can come across as fake and resentful to others as they will mutter to themselves rather than directly speaking to a person or issue. They may appear cooperative on the outside, and only give clues that they disagree.

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"I respect your opinion. We both have valuable viewpoints to share."

Assertive communicators often focus on an open communication without being overbearing. They can express their own needs, desires, ideas and feelings, while also considering the needs of others.

In this sense, they are easy to communicate with, as they aim for both sides to win in times of conflict.

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Which of these statements does NOT reflect an assertive communication style?

Take Action

Can you reflect back on a time when you used a Passive, Aggressive, Passive-Aggressive or Assertive style of communication? How did it turn out?

Each style has it's own time and place. Being aware of your natural communication style will let you make changes intentionally.


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