Communication Styles

Communication is an integral part of any healthy relationship, whether it be romantic, friendship, work-related, or familial. But what does it mean to be a good communicator or to have strong communication skills? To be a good communicator, you must be able to express your feelings to get your needs met in a way that does not infringe upon the rights of others. This is called assertive communication, or assertiveness. Other types of communication styles include aggressive communication, passive communication, and passive-aggressive communication. These latter communication styles are not conducive to maintaining healthy relationships.
Let’s explore why not.

Passive Communication

Passive communication is a lack of communication. Without expressing feelings or
needs, they cannot be met. Some examples of passive communication include:

  • not speaking up to avoid conflict
  • struggling to say “no” or setting boundaries with others
  • using people-pleasing behaviours.

The problem with passive communication is that by preserving the peace with others, you are starting a war with yourself. This often leads to resentment and bitterness and is detrimental to your own mental and physical health.

Take a moment to reflect on why you may be avoiding conflict?

How do you think others will respond if you do say “no” or set boundaries? Is there a fear that person will reject you or abandon you and if so, how rational is that belief? If someone does reject you or abandon you for setting a boundary or expressing your feelings, is that someone you want to keep in your inner circle?

Aggressive Communication

Communicating aggressively is an ineffective way to express feelings and get needs met. It is ineffective because, in the process of expressing yourself, you are violating the rights of others. You may have received what you wanted or needed out of the interaction, but the other person certainly did not. Aggressive communication can occur
through verbal interactions such as:

  • shouting, screaming, or loud tone
  • name-calling, sarcasm, or gaslighting
  • non-verbal interactions, like fighting, punching, breaking items or self-harming behaviors.

These communication tactics can lead to disciplinary sanctions, loss of friendships, disrespect of others, or injuries.

Is there a time when you reacted or communicated aggressively?

Was this effective and if it was, how do you think the other person felt after the interaction? Did this bring you two closer in your relationship or further apart? If you are someone, or know someone, that struggles with anger or aggression, keep reading.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

Passive-aggressive communication has elements of both passive communication and aggressive communication. Like a passive communicator, you avoid conflict by not saying anything and suppressing your feelings. However, you demonstrate aggressive behaviors that would otherwise suggest you do have something to say and are bothered. This may look like:

  • giving someone you are upset with the cold shoulder, silent treatment, or “ghosting” them
  • stomping feet and slamming doors while saying, “I’m fine.”
  • agreeing, even enthusiastically, to a suggestion with no intention of ever following through
  • giving backhanded compliments
  • talking negatively behind someone’s back, rather than addressing the issue with the person involved

What is preventing you from communicating directly and honestly?

What if when someone upsets you or there is conflict or disagreement, you can speak and be heard to resolve
the conflict rather than assume you know how the other person will respond?

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is a communication style that allows you to express your feelings and points of
view freely and directly, without violating the rights of others. You are able to communicate with others honestly and respectfully. It is the healthiest way to communicate because it enables you to get your needs met without using shame, blame or put-downs towards another. While assertiveness does not mean that your needs will always be met, it allows others to listen to and understand your feelings and perspective so that you are heard. As stated previously, this is the approach that is most assuredly going to get your needs met while taking into account the needs and feelings of others. Thus, maintaining and protecting your relationships.

At Incentive Counselling, skills training is implemented within sessions so you are taught how to improve communication, set boundaries, and be assertive; all of which are necessary in developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Give us a call at (604) 210-4795 or book through our online booking system to arrange a time that best suits you.

You can also check out our counsellors on our Meet the Team page of our website or book an appointment with one of our counsellors here. 

Hope to hear from you soon!