What is Your Communication Style?

What is Your Communication Style?

02/21/22 Laura Gibbons

Communication is important in our daily lives. But communication can also be difficult. If we don’t communicate effectively, it can create barriers in both our personal and professional life. Being able to express oneself, as well as being an active listener, can lead to healthier relationships at work and at home.

What is your communication style?
First, it is important to evaluate your communication style and the ways it serves you and doesn’t serve you. Individuals want to have a voice; they want to be heard and understood. But we must learn the best communication style so that we can speak and listen effectively.

Passive Communication Style
A passive communicator is usually experienced as easy-going, people pleasing, and not attention seeking. They try to avoid conflict and often give in to others. As a passive communicator, one usually has more difficulty expressing oneself which could prevent them from getting what they need and causing negative emotions and resentment to build up.

Check in: If you often feel anxious, angry/frustrated, and resentful because you don’t express yourself and don’t get your needs met, then re-evaluate if your communication is too passive. Hopefully, others will better understand and support you if you are being more open and direct.

Aggressive Communication Style
The aggressive communicator can be intimidating, argumentative, controlling, and critical. They tend to dominate conversations and do not listen well to others. Aggressive communicators are not afraid to express their opinions or their wants. In doing so, their approach often disregards others’ perspectives and feelings in the process. Aggressive communicators are motivated by getting their way and needing to be right.

Check-in: If you feel superior, see your way as the only way, don’t provide others the space to have a voice, and often leave others feeling defeated, hurt, or humiliated, then reevaluate how your communication is impacting your relationships.

Passive-Aggressive Communication Style
This type of communicator straddles both passive and aggressive communication styles. They may seem passive at first, but their true feelings may come out in unhealthy ways such as sarcasm, condescension, and mixed messages.

Check-in: If you tend to get defensive, feel that the other person should read your mind and pick up on your indirect cues, and are unable to take responsibility for not communicating your feelings or needs more directly, then think about how you can improve your communication so that it is more clear by saying and doing what you mean.

If you fall into one of these communication styles, look to transitioning to a more assertive communication style to see its benefits.

Assertive Communication Style
Assertive communication is the most effective style of communication because it is direct, clear, and respectful. Assertive communicators feel comfortable in expressing themselves and are thoughtful in how they deliver a message so that it can be effectively received. They also are considerate and know the importance of actively listening to others to make them feel comfortable expressing themselves as well. Assertive communicators feel more in control and more confident in their ability to manage even stressful situations by responding rather than reacting.

Check-in: If you feel you can express yourself and communicate your needs in a healthy way and have relationships where others feel heard and understood, then your communication and interactions with others likely feel productive and meaningful.

Communication is a skill that can be improved and can increase connection and collaboration. Here are some tips to enhance your communication:

  • Express your needs and wants clearly
  • Use “I” statements
  • Be curious and ask questions rather than make assumptions
  • Maintain comfortable eye contact
  • Limit distractions to remain present
  • Be aware of body language that engages rather than disengages
  • Actively listen when the other person is speaking
  • Remember to respond, not react
    • Oftentimes in stressful situations, we react rather than respond. It is important to slow down, edit your message until you say only what you really mean and need which usually can be condensed to a sentence or two, and then deliver the message in a calm and respectful tone. The goal is to be heard and understood rather than put someone on the defense which stifles communication.

When we talk about the importance of communication, it can sound cliche’, but it is a powerful tool in how well we relate to ourselves and to others. Your EAP is a great place to start to build your communication skills.

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