Have you ever had a conversation with someone that made you feel like you were moving in circles? You tried and tried to explain your point of view, but you just weren’t connecting with the other person? It could be that your communication style is not as effective as you might imagine.
A communication style is the way you interact and exchange information with other people. A communication style is not just about the words we use but includes the facial expressions, body language, and the deeper meaning or intention behind our words, and it can have a huge impact on the quality of our relationships.
Most people will use all five communication styles from time to time, depending on the situation, but each person will fall back on one “primary” style as the way they communicate most of the time. As you work to improve the way you communicate with others, it’s important to not only identify your primary communication style, but also learn to identify the styles of the people around you.
Although your primary communication style is based on your childhood and cultural influences, it is possible, with the help of your therapist and lots of practice, to move from a less healthy communication style and become more assertive (the most ideal style).
The first step is self-awareness. Can you identify your primary communication style? Be honest with yourself – what positive and negative traits of each style are present in you?
Often considered the “best” style, it’s also the least frequently used. The assertive communicator has a high self-esteem, is able to find a middle ground between being aggressive and submissive, and clearly communicates their needs without hurting others.
Focused on winning, aggressive communicators do not take other people’s feelings or needs into consideration and often achieve their goals at the expense of other people.
Always trying to avoid conflict, passive communicators believe that the needs and wants of other people come before their own. They highly value pleasing others and are often uncomfortable speaking up and adding their opinion to the conversation.
Stemming from a feeling of powerlessness, passive-aggressive communicators seem passive externally but hide their true feelings and intentions.
Skilled at controlling and influencing others to their own advantage, manipulative communicators are scheming and cunning, playing the victim to hide their underlying message.
If you resonated with a more unhealthy communication style and are realizing you need to learn how to become more assertive, the great news is – you can! If you have several relationships where the communication between you needs work, remember the only person you can change is you. Chances are, if you begin to speak directly and with empathy, those around you will pick up on that and change their tone as well.
This is hard work, no doubt. If you want help working through anything that is preventing you from being a more assertive communicator, working with a therapist can help. If you have spent your life silencing yourself, you may need help building self-confidence and finding your voice. If you tend to communicate more aggressively, working on anger management will help.
Our team can help you develop the skills you need to communicate clearly and confidently, reduce conflict, speak with empathy, and get what you want and need in your relationships without hurting the people around you.