Whether we are talking to our friends, family, or complete strangers, communication matters. When it comes down to communicating there are 4 main styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. We often gravitate towards a communication style based on if we believe it to be effective. However, that does not mean that that style is the appropriate style to use or if it truly is the correct style. When we are able to understand these different styles and how we use them, we are able to have a more effective conversation.
The first form of communication is passive communication. Passive communication is not expressing your feelings, needs, or desires. People who use passive communication often avoid confrontation and feel an inability to say “No”. When being passive it is easier to build resentment or anger towards others.
Aggressive communication is another form of communication and can often be heard, seen, and even felt. People using aggressive communication can use demanding language and body posture. When people are being aggressive, they often state their wants, feelings, and desires; however, they are doing it in a way to assert control/dominance over the conversation and possibly even the other person.
Passive-aggressive communication is a combination of both passive communication and aggressive communication. A person using passing-aggressive communication often uses passive language and aggressive tones or body language. Passive-aggressive communication can be a result of anger or resentments built towards the people you are communicating with and can even be subtle or done secretly.
Finally, assertive communication is the most effective form of communication. Assertive communication is talking about your wants, feelings, and desires in a way that is not dominating or controlling. Assertive communication is using respectable tones and open body language. People who communicate assertively not only think about themselves, but the people they are communicating with.
Ultimately, the form of communication that is best used is assertive communication. However, that can be hard if you are not used to communicating that way. By identifying and being mindful of the type of communication you use, you are able to increase your assertive communication and have more successful conversations.
Keli Gwost earned her Master of Science degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from St. Cloud State University, MN after completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Dependency and Community Psychology from St. Cloud State University, MN. She has a history of working with individuals who have spent time in the criminal justice system and are on parole. She has worked with individuals who have had an alcohol, substance, and behavioral addiction.