Communication is probably the most complex interaction between humans that distinguishes us from all the other animal species on planet earth as there are so many different types of communication styles. The experts in the fields of psychology, neurolinguistics, advertising, information technology, computer modeling, and many others have all developed various models on what constitutes a communication “style”. But there are some general parameters on the different ways in which we all communicate. And certainly not everyone communicates in the same way, or “style”!
There are some communication style models that seem to take precedence over others. One model that differs from others lays out four different personality types in communication theory: the expresser (they get excited); the driver (they have decisive viewpoints and like to get their own way); the relater (they like attention, and to be viewed positively); and the analytical (these personality types behave methodically, like lots of data, and ask a lot of questions).
Assertive Communication Styles
But the predominant communication styles preferred by the experts in this field are that of assertive, aggressive, passive, and passive-aggressive. The assertive communication style has been deemed the most positive and psychologically healthy. Some definitions of assertive communication are those that use a firm voice, look directly at you, have high self-esteem, as well as respect for others. Assertive communicators clearly state their positions, but without violating the rights of others. They use “I” statements, listen well without interrupting, have relaxed body posture, but at the same time feel connected to others. The assertive person will speak clearly, honestly, and to the point.
Aggressive Communication Styles
The aggressive communicator almost always behaves using some form of manipulation. They will speak in a loud voice, with staring, narrow eyes. Their entire body posture says they are superior, and you don’t matter. Many times they are feared by others, and will evoke guilt or anger from those they are communicating with. They may become verbally or emotionally abusive, criticize, blame, or attack others, interrupt frequently, and just generally try to dominate everyone else! Their non-verbal communication will be a rigid posture, pointing fingers, and perhaps tight, closed fists. The aggressive communication style says, “I own you, you owe me, it’s your entire fault, you’re not worth anything.”
Passive Communication Styles
The passive communicator avoids expressing their opinion, fail to assert themselves, speak in a low and apologetic tone. Their nonverbal communication may be stooped, slumped, and looking away. They behave, believe, or say that they are weak and vulnerable, get stepped on by everyone, and don’t know what their rights are. They often feel depressed, resentful, anxious, and confused. This communicator will get disrespect and is often pitied. Finally, there are the passive-aggressive communication styles. They may appear to avoid direct confrontation, but will really use aggressive manipulation. Passive-aggressive manipulators use sarcasm or subtle sabotage to get even. They will feel powerless, and incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Thus these communicators may use “guerilla warfare” and set booby-traps for their opponents! Generally we all will fall into one of these different communication styles or strategies. Most of us can recognize one or more of these different communication styles in others.
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