4 Styles of Communication

two women talking

In my Self-Confidence and Assertiveness course, many of my clients believe they are ineffective communicators and would like to improve their communication skills. Today, I am going to go over the four different type of communication styles.

Passive Communication
Passive communication avoids expressing opinions or feelings, protecting one’s rights, and identifying or meeting one’s needs. People who communicate passively usually have poor eye contact and slumped body posture, and tend to speak softly or apologetically. When passive people talk, they usually convey one of the following:

  • “I’m unable to stand up for my rights.”
  • “I don’t know what my rights are.”
  • “I get stepped on by everyone.”
  • “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself.”
  • “People never consider my feelings.”

Aggressive Communication
Aggressive communication tends to violate the rights of others. It is not uncommon for aggressive communicators to be verbally or physically abusive, or both. Aggressive communication is typically the result of low self-esteem, often caused by past physical or emotional abuse, unhealed emotional wounds, and feelings of powerlessness.

Aggressive individuals display a low tolerance for frustration, use humiliation, interrupt frequently, and use criticism or blame to attack others. They use piercing eye contact, and are not good listeners. Aggressive people express statements implying that:

  • The other person is inferior, wrong, and not worth anything
  • The problem is the other person’s fault
  • They are superior and right
  • They will get their way regardless of the consequences
  • They are entitled, and that the other person ‘owes’ them.

Passive-Aggressive Communication
Passive-aggressive person uses a communication style in which the individual appears passive on the surface, but is really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way.

Passive-aggressive communication usually has an undercurrent of powerlessness, feeling stuck, and resentful. People who are passive-aggressive are often alienated from others, feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of or the person whom they resentments. Instead, they express their anger by subtly undermining the real or imagined object/person whom they resentment. Frequently they mutter to themselves instead of confronting another person. They often smile at you, even though they are angry, use subtle sabotage, or speak with sarcasm.

When passive-aggressive individuals communicate, they send the following messages:

  • “I’m weak and resentful, so I sabotage, frustrate, and disrupt.”
  • “I’m powerless to deal with you head on so I must use Guerrilla warfare.”
  • “I will appear cooperative, but I’m not.”

Assertive Communication
Assertive communication clearly states one’s opinions and feelings, and firmly advocates for his or her rights and needs without violating the rights of others. Assertive communication is the result of high self-esteem. Assertive people value themselves, their time, and their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. They are strong advocates for themselves — while being very respectful of the rights of others.

Assertive people feel connected to other people and they state their needs and feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully. They are in control of their emotions and speak in calm and clear tones. They are good listeners, maintain good eye contact and create a respectful environment for others, and do not allow others to abuse or manipulate them.

When assertive people communicate with others, they send the messages:

  • “I am confident about who I am.”
  • “I cannot control others, but I control myself.”
  • “I speak clearly, honestly, and to the point.”
  • “I know I have choices in my life, and I consider my options. I am fully responsible for my own happiness.”
  • “We are equally entitled to express ourselves respectfully to one another.”

The question I have for you is, “What is your communication style?” If you decide to work on improving your communication style, BRAVA! Take a look at my FREE webinar, “NEW YEAR, NEW YOU!” and grab some tips on how to make and keep your goals.


About Jinnie Cristerna

Jinnie Cristerna specializes in psychotherapy, mind-body work, hypnotherapy, Reiki, vibrational energy and leadership development services at International & Chicago’s High Achievers. She's one of the best in the business for executive mental health maintenance and emotional wellness. "The High Achievers Edge" provides readers with effective ways to develop their self-awareness and ability to self-correct. Click here to subscribe and connect with Ms. Cristerna today!