Defining your personal communication style can help you to succeed in the workplace - being able to identify someone else's communication style can make you a more collaborative person

Communication is something everyone does, whether it's through words, gestures, or body language. Without a proper understanding of each of the four styles of communication, there can be miscommunication, arguments, hurt feelings, and even strife. So, what are the four types of communication styles and what's yours?

Effective communication is vital

Not only can effective communication and the recognition of someone else's communication style avoid or resolve conflict, it's also critical for ensuring understanding. Maintaining positive relationships in the workplace is one of the cornerstones of job success. Relaying information in a way that is understandable aids in creating a culture of excellence and builds team morale - which improves productivity and efficiency. 

Without further ado, let's break down each communication style.

4 basic communication styles

Everyone has heard someone say, “That is so passive-aggressive.” You've probably also been in a situation where someone has been referred to as assertive. Both of these are communication styles. The four basic communication styles are:

  • Passive

  • Aggressive

  • Passive-Aggressive

  • Assertive

The passive communication style

The person who demonstrates a passive communication style may also be referred to as an introvert, or shy. This individual doesn't express opinions or feelings and often simply goes with the flow. You can easily identify someone who has a passive communication style because he or she will often speak softly and apologize, even when an apology isn't called for. 

Watch out for: sudden outbursts that don't fit with the situation. These outbursts happen because issues have been building within the passive person for a while. The passive communicator will allow resentment and frustration to build up over time, often without realizing it's happening. 

Listen for: phrases that indicate the passive communicator feels left out. For example, “It doesn't matter what I say.” You may also hear a passive communicator say something like, “I just want to keep the peace,” or “Whatever you think is best.” 

The aggressive communication style

This person isn't afraid to tell it like it is. The aggressive communicator has opinions and will advocate for their needs, even if it means stepping on other people's toes. The aggressive communicator is often seen as someone who is verbally abusive towards others. This person does not avoid conflict. You'll easily recognize this communication style, as you'll probably feel demeaned, criticized, and intimidated. 

Watch out for: someone with a superiority complex. People with an aggressive communication style have no problem pointing the finger of blame at others and will often act as if they are better than everyone else in the room. 

Listen for: entitlement phrases like, “You owe me,” or “It's all your fault.” The aggressive communicator will often try their best to have the last word in any conversation and will frequently interrupt others who are speaking. 

The passive-aggressive communication style

Now we've come to the all-too-popular passive-aggressive communication style. These communicators seem passive, but they have aggressive tendencies. Ultimately, passive-aggressive people have feelings or thoughts that they don't know how to express. 

Passive-aggressive communicators can be hard to identify until they show aggressive behavior. For example, you may be thinking that you're dealing with a passive communicator, but then you'll notice that this passive person intentionally misses deadlines or agrees to do a thing and then never shows up to do it. 

Watch out for: the passive-aggressive communicator uses body language to express displeasure with a person or issue. You may even notice that their expression doesn't match their words. The actions are subtle, so you have to pay attention.

Listen for: apparent agreement with mumbling. Oftentimes, the passive-aggressive communicator will be fine with performing a task. This person may even make it seem as if he or she is looking forward to doing it. But, as they walk away, you might hear them mutter something incoherent. 

The assertive communication style

Being recognized as an assertive communicator should be everyone's goal. This communicator is the type of person who knows their value and can talk about their needs and feelings without being mean to others. This is considered the most effective form of communication, as the assertive communicator tries to find win-win situations.

You'll notice that assertive communicators own their feelings and use a lot of “I” statements. For example, someone with an assertive communication style would not express displeasure at a situation by saying, “You're wrong.” Instead, you would hear something more along the lines of, “While I disagree with that, I'm sure we can find a way to make it work.” 

Assertive communicators share ideas and are ideal job candidates for leadership roles

Improve your communication skills

Communication is one of the leading soft skills that employers seek in job candidates. Soft skills are personality characteristics that make you good at what you do. Your communication style is part of your personality, but it can be improved or enhanced. There are a number of online courses that you can take to work on enhancing your communication style. Look for courses that emphasize improving:

  • Active listening skills

  • Body language

  • Demonstrating empathy, authenticity, and flexibility

You may even find courses that help you to work on things like using communication to influence or inspire others. The way that you communicate with others has a direct impact on your career success. Finding a balance with what you want, how to get it, and ensuring others get what they need and want, too, is of the utmost importance. 

The first impression a company has of your communication skills is through your resume. Enhance how you “speak” to a prospective employer by ensuring that your resume has the right tone and consistency of style with a free resume review.

Related reading:

Related Articles: