Last week I touched very briefly on the three different styles of communication. It is imperative that you know and understand how you communicate in order to communicate effectively with your partner. Therefore, I am going to give you a more in-depth breakdown of the three different styles as we start on a new theme of effective communication.
The first style of communication is passive or avoidant. This person has a hard time sharing his or her opinion; they shy away from conflict and tend to be indecisive. Passive communicators view others as higher than themselves, often not voicing their opinion and letting others walk over them. In a fight or flight situation they will always choose flight, constantly struggling with wanting to please others.
This style of communication can even be detected through avoidant body language, such as backing away when in conversation or not maintaining eye contact. The outcome of their conversations leaves them feeling like they have compromised. They walk away feeling like they didn’t get what they wanted, which leads to self-critical thoughts. Passive communicators often have a very hard time receiving criticism because they internalize and believe that it was their fault.
The polar opposite style of communication is aggressive or controlling. An aggressive or controlling communicator has no problem giving their opinion and they like to control the outcome of the conversation. They like to have things their way and have a hard time listening to others’ opinions. They tend to view themselves as higher than others and may place blame on others more readily than someone who is passive.
An aggressive communicators body language often displays a more aggressive stance such as a pointing a finger, not backing down, stepping towards you when in conflict, etc. When they communicate, it is a much more “in your face” approach as opposed to the passive communicator who tries to avoid conflict. The outcome of their conversations leaves them feeling angry, resentful and upset with others (sometimes even themselves). The aggressive communicator does not take criticism very well. They cannot imagine how someone with as many faults or more than they have could be pointing out faults of theirs.
The more balanced and ideal style of communication is an assertive or problem solvingapproach. An assertive communicator does not want fight or flight, they want to solve the problem. They can articulate their desires and opinions, and have no issue standing up for what they believe in. They are willing to listen to what others have to say and are self-aware. They tend to view themselves and others in a positive manner and are not defensive or avoidant.
An assertive communicator’s body language is warm and engaged. They make eye contact and speak with a clear strong voice. They are approachable and their posture is relaxed and welcoming. The outcome of their interactions with others leaves them feeling happy and satisfied with their relationships. The assertive communicator can hear criticism and decide whether they agree, disagree or partially agree with it. They can examine the criticism in an object self-aware way and use the situation as a way to learn and grow.
The thing that I love about communication is that we can constantly learn better ways and strategies to do it. Unlike personality that tends to be more concrete, communication skills can constantly evolve and become more effective. I challenge you this week to be assertive in your communication with your partner and those around you. To live an authentic fulfilling life, you have to be able to share your opinions and desires with the people around you in a healthy way. It starts with being true to yourself in every situation. It is freeing for you and your relationships will be more rewarding as a result.
This article was originally written for and posted on Liveabundantly.ca