What kind of communication style do you think you use? A common collection of four communication styles includes assertive, passive, passive-aggressive, and aggressive. Any of those seem familiar to you?
1. Passive communication style. This communication style seeks to avoid confrontation at all costs. They don't talk much, rarely ask questions, and don't do much at all. They seek to not rock the boat ever. Passives know it's safer not to react and that it's better to disappear than to stand up and be noticed.
2. Aggressive communication style. Aggressive communication always involves manipulation. Aggressive people attempt to make people do what they want by pretending to be hurt (imposing guilt) or by using anger to intimidate and control others. We seek to get our needs met immediately. Aggressive behavior is appropriate for sports or war, but it will never work in any kind of healthy relationship. However, the most aggressive sports rely on relationship building and rational coaching strategies. And wouldn't war be avoided if agressives sought to negotiate or assert themselves rather than control others.
3. Passive-aggressive communication style. A combination of both above styles, passive-aggressives do two things at once. They avoid direct confrontation, but attempt to gain some semblance of control through guilt or manipulation tactics. Any thoughts about making that certain someone who needs to be "taken down a notch or two" suffer, and you've stepped right into the emotional and reactive world of the passive-aggressive. This style of communication often leads to over-dramatized office politics and hurtful rumors.
4. Assertive communication style. The most effective and healthiest form of communication is the assertive style. It's how we naturally express ourselves when our self-esteem is intact, giving us the confidence to communicate without games and guilt.
When we are being assertive, we work to create quality and satisfying relationships and solutions. We communicate our needs clearly and without hesitation. While we care about the relationship and seek to find a solution, we know our limits and refuse to be pushed beyond them. The assertive communication style is the least utilized for the majority of people.
Which one are you? Anything you see to work on? Do your passive tendencies reflect badly on your conference call? Are you too aggressive? Do you over-dramatize office politics? Do you stand up for your boundaries?