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  • Susan Le De'an

Understanding Your Communication Style

How we communicate with each other impacts our relationships with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and even acquaintances. It helps to understand the different ways we communicate with each other because poor communication creates incredible stress. There are three main types of communication styles to be aware of.

Have you found yourself not expressing your feelings or needs in a conversation or decision? Do you frequently ignore your own personal rights and struggle to stand up for yourself? If your style is passive, you may seem to be shy or overly easy-going to others. Passive communication can be problematic because you are sending the message that your thoughts and feelings are not as important as those of other people. In essence, when you are too passive, you allow others to ignore your wants and needs. There are definitely times it makes sense to take a passive stance, as long as you are aware of what you are giving up. If you tend to be passive most of the time, the cost of this leads to built-up anger or resentment, feelings of victimization and doubting or questioning our own judgment. It can be helpful in your relationships to find the courage to speak your truth in the moment to avoid these situations. However, if the relationship can become violent, then being passive could be a safer communication option to minimize escalation.

Aggressive behavior is easily identifiable to most of us. If your communication style appears as self-righteous or superior and you tend to intimidate, scare, or even embarrass others, you may come across as a bully who ignores others’ needs, feelings and opinions. Do you find that you respond as defensive or hostile when confronted by others? Do you recognize patterns of alienating yourself and hurting others? Being aggressive may help meet your needs quickly. However, it comes at a cost as well. Aggression weakens trust and mutual respect in relationships which will cause others to resent you, avoid or oppose you.

When you communicate your thoughts and feelings directly and honestly, you are using assertive communication. Being assertive is a core communication skill because you express yourself effectively and stand up for your point of view without disrespecting others in the process. Being assertive can help boost your self-esteem and earn others’ respect, as well as helping with stress management. Finding your authentic voice during busy times can help reduce stress in your life, by remembering to say no so you don’t take on too many responsibilities. Once you practice assertive communication more, you will experience a sense of empowerment and notice a benefit to your decision-making skills. Learning to be more assertive can help you effectively express your feelings when communicating with others about issues, resulting in positive benefits in your relationships.

Identifying which style of communication you utilize most often, can help you realize if you are being as effective as you could be. Learning to communicate differently is a process that takes time and practice. If your best efforts to improve communication do not bring you the desired results, consider talking with a mental health professional about ways to become more assertive to support your progress.


By: Susan Le De'an

LPC, LCAC

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