Communication Styles and How to Deal with Each

While most of us have a default style of communication, we all tend to use different styles, depending on the situation and the person with whom we are speaking.

What is Communication?

In simple words, communication is sending and receiving information between two or more people. The person sending the information is called sender and the person receiving the information is called receiver.

Communication is a learned skill, but it is important to know we have a choice in how we communicate.

Communication is an essential component of a productive workplace, allowing employees to work together cohesively and professionally.

Four Basic Styles of Communication

There are 4 basic styles of communication. Let us look at each style in a more detailed manner.

Passive Communication

In this type of communication style, the situation is of ‘I LOSE – YOU WIN’.

This style is born out of low self-esteem. Such communicators avoid expressing their opinions and feelings. They have set their boundaries with others and do not assert themselves in situations, workplace or relationships. They feel their needs and feelings are bad and not so much important. Hence, they hesitate to ask others to fulfill them. They allow others to manipulate them. They exhibit poor eye contact and slump body posture. They tend to speak softly or apologetically.

The IMPACT of this style of communication on the communicator is that they feel anxious as they think that the life is out of their control. Such communicators are also depressed because they feel stuck, hopeless and bad about themselves. These people are also resentful because their needs are not met. They are confused; they ignore their own feelings and needs that are meant to guide them. They have a general belief about themselves and that is “I am not worth it”. They may allow annoyances to build up and eventually exceed their highest tolerance threshold and may then display an explosive outburst totally out of proportion and then feel guilty and have sense of shame.

Aggressive Communication

This is born out of low self-esteem and powerlessness often caused by emotional imbalance and ego. The situation here is of ‘I WIN – YOU LOSE’.

These people will violate the rights of others to get their needs met. They will use physical and emotional abuse, humiliation, intimidation, criticism and blame in rude and threatening ways.

They have low frustration tolerance and blow up easily. They do not listen well and frequently interrupt others often speaking in loud and demanding voice with piercing eye contact and over bearing postures. They say things like “Your opinion isn’t worth anything”, “You are at fault”, “I care a damn”.

The IMPACT of such communicators is that they alienate others by generating fear and sometimes hatred.

Passive Aggressive Communication

Individuals may appear passive & submissive in this interesting style of communication. However, they are really acting from a place of anger and therefore below the surface is resentment or dislike. They seem cooperative & friendly while consciously or unconsciously doing things that sabotage, annoy, or disturb others. The situation here is of ‘I LOSE – YOU LOSE’.

They feel powerless to do it directly with the objects of resentment. Thus, they use subtle Sabotage to express their anger. They mother to themselves rather than confront the personal issue because they refuse to acknowledge their anger.

They use facial expressions that do not match how they feel such as smiling when angry and use sarcasm to put others down.

The IMPACT of Passive Aggressive communication style on such individuals is that they become alienated from those around them. Live in emotional isolation and stuck in a position of powerlessness.

Assertive Communication

The situation here is of ‘I WIN – YOU WIN’. This is born of healthy self-esteem and respect for others and self. They express their needs, wants, opinions and feelings clearly, directly and respectfully. They make eye statements and convey respect for others. They listen well without interrupting and make good eye contact while talking in a calm & respectful tone and relaxed body posture.

They do not allow others to abuse or manipulate them because they stand up for their rights while respecting the rights of others.

The IMPACT of assertive communication is that such individuals feel in control of their lives, feel connected to others and feel good about them.

The simple fact is that most of the time, being assertive is the most effective style of communication. It helps you diffuse anger, reduce guilt and build relationships professionally and personally.

Always remember:

[su_highlight background=”#d399ff”]Say what you mean; mean what you say but do not say it mean [/su_highlight]

Dealing With Each Style:

After having a fair understanding of each communication style, it is time to see how best we can deal with each style.

Passive Communicators

They have almost given full rights to others to manipulate them. They are saintly, and make no fuss. So why bother dealing with them?

Because they never let you know where you stand. They have the FEAR of being disliked or put down. They are safe players. So, what should be your approach for helping such communicators?

1. Establish Trust – Help them have the confidence to share their feelings. Make them feel worthy and respected.

2. Encourage an environment of solving problems and discussing options.

3. Do not let the passive person avoid confrontation. Resolve the issue immediately. Be open, direct and honest. Model assertive behavior.

Aggressive Communicators

These people always feel the need to be in control and feel powerful. They are not good communicators actually. They try to push it down your throat.

1. Help them calm down by initiating to talk things out. Show maturity.

2. Do not make false promises or escalate the situation.  Stay Issue Focused.

3. Aggressive communicating people are bullies with words. So, avoid emotional impulse reactions.

4. Send a clear message to them that the aggressive behavior is unacceptable.

Passive Aggressive Communicators

Passive Aggressive communicator is someone who does not come out and say, “I am worried and upset about what you said or what you did”. Instead, they act out a scenario designed to make you feel guilty or control you suddenly. They use properly structured techniques to make your feelings hell.

1. Never confront a Passive Aggressive communicator.

2. Power struggles are a total NO NO because these people have never learnt to hear NO. No is threatening to them. So love the person, challenge the behavior.

3. Go step by step in not buying their crap as they try to manipulate you with your emotions.

4. Get them to talk about their fears. Be gentle and loving. You can say “I sympathize but I know and understand what you are doing or trying to do.

Assertive Communicators

Do we really need to deal with such people? These are people with healthy personality. Assertive people ask questions, seek answers, look at all points of views and engage in meaningful open-ended dialogue without anger, without hurt feelings or defensiveness.

Remember you always have a choice in your style of communication. At the same time, you also have a choice how people talk to you.

To have the practical understanding of different communication styles and how you can work on each given your professional setup, get in touch with us by writing at

‘JiNa is a people development organization specializing in Communication, Team Building & Management, Personal Development, Personal Effectiveness, Teachers’ Training and Parent Coaching.

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