Margaret is an extremely polite, well-behaved, and kind person. She always goes out of way to help her friends and co-workers. She has missed many things for her own self, as she was being there for others. She is also not confrontational when others hurt her feelings and prefers to be passive.
Do you think this is right? What can Margaret learn to do more? What will help here? Which type of communication should Margaret learn and initiate?
Communication is defined as the tendency to give and receive information, verbally or nonverbally. Communication can be in the form of speaking and listening, reading and writing. Communication involves a sender, a message, a recipient and a medium or channel for transferring that message.
For example, Helen sends a text, ‘I am here’ to Katherine. Helen is the sender, ‘I am here’ is the message, Katherine is the recipient and a phone through which the text was sent is the medium or channel of communication.
Verbal communication involves vocalizing or speaking one’s thoughts or feelings directly. It can include a face-to-face conversation, a text message, a phone call or a video call.
On the other hand, non-verbal behavior does not use words to convey one’s thoughts or feelings. Here, body language, facial expression, gestures and subtle non-verbal cues (how we dress, smile and nod) are used to communicate with others. This can occur intentionally or unintentionally.
There are various styles of communication that use verbal and non-verbal cues. Some of them are effective whereas some of them are ineffective. These styles are mentioned below.
Types Of Communication Styles
1. Passive Communication Style
This communication style includes being non-reactive or indifferent to others. They usually do not communicate their emotions or thoughts with others in an upfront manner. They typically find it difficult to maintain eye contact and are unable to say no, even when they want to. They seem to run away from confrontation.
This difficulty makes it hard for them to maintain healthy relationships and often causes miscommunication or resentment towards others. They often assume that other people should understand their feelings without actively vocalizing them.
The one good thing about passive communication style is that it supports co-operation, and people with this style of communication often go along with plans and ideas of others and are easy to talk to.
An example of passive communication is the case of Gady. Gady often uses this style of communication within her relationships. Her birthday is coming up soon. Her friends and coworkers keep asking her about what she wants and her ideas about how her birthday should go. She does not honestly communicate her ideas, assuming and expecting them to know what she wants. This passive communication leads to miscommunication and an unfulfilling birthday.
2. Aggressive Communication Style
This communication style is the complete opposite of passive communication. It involves loud, demanding and clear communication of what an individual wants or needs. It often involves attempts to dominate or control the environment or others according to personal demands.
This style is characterized by yelling, intense eye contact, and taunts or misbehavior in order to fulfill one’s own wishes. People using this style of communication primarily tend to be bad listeners. People can get intimidated or scared by such communication.
For example, Daniel is the manager of a bottle company. He often expresses his displeasure through yelling at his employees and being dominant with his ideas. This has led to high turnover in his company. His employees also avoid going to him to share any productive ideas or plans. This aggressive communication is not helping the development of Daniel’s company.
3. Passive-Aggressive Communication Style
This communication style involves hidden resentment through passive behaviors. It includes coldness, subtle taunts, and demeaning humor. People with this communication style may not confront another person directly, but subtly express their discontent through appearing distant or creating an uncomfortable air through their cold silence.
Upon being asked, they might deny or refuse to communicate more and appear closed up. This communication style can be caused due to the inability to express honest opinions or feelings with others.
For example, Selena is feeling bad. Her friend did not text her back when she was saying something important. Later, she met up with that friend for a class. When her friend attempted to start a conversation, Selena gave her a silent treatment by not replying to her attempts. She replied in monosyllables after her friend’s consistent gesture. This passive aggressive behavior could be harmful to relationships and could dampen bonds, as Selena’s friend stopped trying to communicate after a while.
4. Assertive Communication Style
This communication style is known to be the healthiest form of communication. It involves an open mind towards others as well as self. People with this communication style are able to articulate their thoughts and feelings without being dominant or passive. They are considerate to others as well as their own self while sharing opinions or feelings.
For example, Tylor had an idea for a policy change in the company he was working for. He managed to share this idea with his boss appropriately. His boss suggested some changes. Tylor did not like these changes and could communicate that to his seniors without disrespecting him or disregarding his own self. This open communication led the boss to feel confident in Tylor and he let him go ahead with the policy change.
5. Manipulative Communication Style
This communication style includes influencing or controlling someone according to your own whims and fancies. It refers to affecting someone’s thoughts for your own benefit.
For example, Tylor’s boss is a manipulative communicator. He says things that make his employees feel guilty for no reason, and extracts power from that apology. He often says things just for the sake of saying them, and does not mean good, most of the time. Communicating with him is exhausting and draining for a lot of employees.
6. Competitive Communication Style
This style includes a dominating, powerful and mostly, aggressive demeanor while communicating. It includes caring about your needs and desires more than the other party or person. People with this communication style want to win desperately, they do not like losing.
For example, Sherin has a competitive communication style while negotiating with the other party. There is a scarcity of resources in the company, wherein Sherin works with others. She argues and fights that her department should get the most leftover resources and does not want to back down.
7. Co-operative Communication Style
This communication involves getting along with others and being polite and genuine. Information is shared freely and positive demeanor is maintained. People with this communication style make great team players and are able to maintain decorum in the company.
For example, Sara is a cooperative communicator. She understands her employees’ needs and is polite to everyone around her. Her team is delighted to have her around as she works well in a group format.
8. Affiliative Communication Style
This communication style refers to a more collaborative style of interacting. It involves positive statements, sharing power and responsibility comfortably and being empathetic towards others.
For example, Vyom is affiliative while communicating with his co-workers. He understands their perspectives and is empathetic towards their struggles. Everyone feels comfortable around him.
How To Communicate Appropriately?
- Listening is key. Listen to understand, not just to respond. Actively listening and being present with others instantly helps you in communicating better as you understand when you really listen.
- Using I- statements while communicating feelings or opinions. For example, ‘I felt unheard by this action. I am hoping that we can work together on this issue.’ Using I statements help in communicating how you feel while ensuring that the other person does not feel attacked. Taking responsibility for how you feel makes the other person more likely to be open to hearing about the issue.
- Noticing subtle non-verbal behaviors, such as facial expressions, nods, body language, yawning, fidgety fingers, etc. can help in deciphering the other person’s motivations and intentions. This knowledge about the other person can help an individual in communicating better.
- If a conversation is leading towards an argument, find a common stance or a common point that both the parties agree with. This will help the situation to not get hostile and also show the other person that you are not as different as they assume. It can help in lowering their defenses and be more willing towards a negotiation.
- Asking questions is a good tactic. It gives you more information about the other person, which helps you understand them better, which in turn leads to better communication. It also makes the other person feel heard and important.
- Saying ‘NO’ is an important part of communication. People often find it hard to refuse or are blatantly aggressive. The most effective way to say no is to be assertive, without crossing any boundaries. A simple ‘no’ can be said in statements such as, ‘No, thank you for the opportunity, but I can’t make it’ or ‘No, I can’t this time.’ Explanations should be avoided, if possible.
- Needs and wants can be expressed in an assertive yet considerate manner. You can start by, ‘I would like to discuss this issue, when you have the time and space for this conversation.’ This statement will give the other person some value and make them feel that they can also be a part of the conversation, without making it seem pushy. Then, needs and wants can be discussed, with giving other people a chance to interact and add.
Which Style Suits Best In The Workplace? How To Effectively Work On The Styles To Communicate Better?
Assertive, affiliative and cooperative communication works best in the workplace. This communication makes for positive energy in the workplace, more productivity, less animosity among employees and more engagement. These communication styles will make space for productive discussions at the workplace, likeability and good, healthy bonds among co-workers.
These communication styles will help an employee in being a good team player, in facilitating bonds and connections, and getting ahead in life as well.
These styles can be developed by actively listening to other people, empathizing with them, and understanding their perspective before responding. People can learn this style by observing people who employ this style in their life and mirroring their statements and beliefs. They could also educate themselves through books and online articles.
Practice also helps, practicing affiliative communication by being positive towards your environment or friends can support your skills and help you take it to the workplace. For example, practice giving constructive feedback to your friend in a considerate manner.
Which Style Do Most People Not Agree With?
Most people do not agree with an aggressive communication style. It seems daunting and domineering, so most people move away from this style. We live in a society with other humans and we need them from time to time, and so have to be nice and decent to them.
This style does not support being nice to others. It disregards others and holds only oneself on a pedestal, which can be detrimental to relationships, jobs and one’s own mental health, hence most people do not agree with this style.
A Conversation Between A Couple
John: Hey Tina, I want to talk to you, something important. Shall we?
Tina: Oh, yes please I am listening.
John: Nowadays, I’m feeling that we don’t spend enough time together. Maybe tight work schedule. I’m really worried.
Tina: Oh I’m sorry for that. I am always stay by your side. Tell me your feelings dear.
John: I am sorry too. I feel scared that we will lose what we have, because of lack of time. I want us to engage in more things together. Am I making sense?
Tina: Engaging in things together sounds good to me. You make complete sense, dear. Perhaps we can go for a walk today evening?
John: That sounds reassuring to me, thank you. Love you dear!
Tina: Love you too! I assure you we shall spend enough time together even on busy days.
This conversation is following an affiliative and collaborative communication style between a couple. Both of them are open to each other’s ideas and respect each other’s space and statements.
They are able to reach a solution because of the genuineness and kindness they show each other. Both their statements have a positive effect on each other, and hence, on their relationship as well.
Study By: Georgeta Panișoara and colleagues
Aim: To determine the predominant or primary communication style of students and find potential differences in communication between males and females during preadolescence.
- 60 students participated in this study. Equal number of males and females were part of this research.
- They were asked to fill a questionnaire that assessed their communication style (aggressive, assertive, persuasive and passive).
- The responses indicated their primary mode of communication which gave an idea about how they would be communicating in school.
- It was found that assertive communication is more prevalent in males than females. Females were found to have a more persuasive style of communication.
- Aggressive communication was found to be high in both the genders.
These results indicate that there is a need for teaching appropriate communication skills to students, earlier in their life to achieve successful outcomes. The study also suggests that teachers can work with students to improve and manage their communication in a better, healthy manner.