Written by: Kathy Best October 15, 2018
Every day we are bombarded with opportunities and environments where clear, honest communication is a necessity. We are expected to communicate our needs, our ideas, our knowledge, and our questions effectively and respectfully to navigate every area of our life with the least amount of friction and confusion possible. Unfortunately effective, honest communication is not taught at home or in public education so many people never learn how to clearly and sincerely communicate their needs without hostility, or manipulation involved. Many people are under the mistaken assumption that in order to get what you want you must manipulate or deceive others into giving you what you want. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Expressing your needs with calm integrity is one of the most overlooked and undervalued skills in our world today. Women seen more open to expressing their needs, but often feel inadequate, unheard, unvalued, or undeserving of having their needs met. Men, on the other hand, seem unable or unwilling to even begin to really consider or contemplate what they really need and want in relationships. The good news is that anyone can learn how to communicate in ways that get their needs met with ease, harmony, and consistency.
Let’s take a look at the different types of communication styles. Most of these may get your needs met on a conditional, inconsistent basis, and may lead to anger, frustration, resentment, and disharmony in relationships.
Are you the Aggressive Communicator?
Do you often feel the need to win every conversation, regardless of other people’s feelings? Do you feel your needs are more important than everyone else’s? Do you often think that you deserve more or have more to contribute than anyone else? Do believe that people don’t listen to you or take you seriously unless you threaten or insult them? Do you like frightening people with loud, hostile communication? Are you willing to achieve your needs and goals at any expense? Are you often demanding and explosive in your communication? Do you often speak loudly? Does you often stand in a way that makes you seem bigger than other people? Do you invade other people’s personal space or try to stand over other people? Do you often frown, scowl, or glare?
Are you the Passive-Aggressive communicator?
Do you appear calm on the surface, but are you actually fuming on the inside when people say or do something you don’t like? Do you find ways to covertly make them pay in order to deal with your inability to communicate your needs or feelings out loud? Do you feel resentful of people that take advantage of your kindness or your passiveness and do things to undermine them or give people the cold shoulder to punish them all the while telling them that nothing is wrong? Do you often speak sarcastically, complain, sulk, gossip, act pleasant to someone’s face, but insult them behind their back? Do you spend hours coming up with devious ways to get back at people that have hurt you, (real or imagined)? Do you often speak with sugary sweet voice and use innocent and sweet facial expressions? When being sarcastic or patronizing do you often stand with a hand on your hip and your hip thrust out? Do you often stand too close to others pretending to be warm and friendly?
Are you the Submissive Communicator?
Are you always interested in pleasing others and avoiding conflict at the expense of your own needs? Do you feel everyone else has more rights and more to contribute than you do? Do you often apologize or feel like you are imposing when you ask for something you want or need? Do you find it difficult to take responsibility or make decisions? Are you often giving in to someone else’s wants and preferences? Do you speak in a very soft voice? Do you try to avoid being the center of attention or feel out of place in groups or large functions? Do you often walk with your head down and avoid eye contact? Do you often fidget when communicating? Do you make yourself appear smaller or lower than others? Are you often backing out of plans or invitations at the last minute or not accepting invitations at all? Do you often feel like you are a victim of life and the world? Do you blame others for events or experiences in your life? Do you refuse or dismiss compliments? Do you often act like a martyr and refuse to try new things that might improve your situation or your disposition?
Are you the Manipulative Communicator?
Are you always scheming and deceiving people to get your way? Do you know exactly what to say and what to do to influence and control others to your advantage? Does what you say often hide a cunning message of which others are totally unaware? Do you sulk, patronize, or use pity to control others? Do you make others feel obligated or sorry for you? Do you use crocodile tears to get your needs met? Do you often speak in an envious, ingratiating, patronizing or high pitched voice? Do you often wear pathetic expression when you want something from someone? Do you often fish for compliments or lament about your financial or personal situation while acting envious of others?
Are you the Assertive Communicator?
Do you give people the respect and kindness you expect from them? Are you socially and emotionally expressive? Do you pursue your goals only after considering their impact on others? Do you take responsibility for the choices you make? Are you direct and honest about your needs and able to accept the possibility of rejection? Do you accept compliments and constructive criticism with grace and gratitude? Do you moderate your voice, volume, and speed when speaking? Is your posture relaxed, tall, open, and balanced? Do you make good eye contact with people? Are you respectful of other people’s personal space? Do you use “please” when asking for something, “thank you” when receiving something, and “I’m sorry” when declining an invitation or request? Are you able to take a look at yourself with detached inquiry and make adjustments to your unsupportive, or unhealthy thoughts and behaviors without judgement or criticism?
Can you guess which communication style is the best method to achieve harmonious, healthy, fulfilling relationships?
Most people use several different communication styles throughout their lives without even recognizing it. Developing a clear understanding of the five basic styles of communication will enable you to respond effectively when confronted with a difficult person. You will also begin to recognize when you are not using assertive communication or behaving in an ineffective manner. Remember, when you find yourself falling back into old patterns that do not support your highest good you can consciously choose another communication style or behavior. If you guessed the assertive style of communication was the best style for harmonious, healthy relationships you were correct. Assertive is almost always the most effective style, but other styles may be necessary in certain situations – For example, if you are physically threatened in a mugging or carjacking being submissive starting out submissive may be your best bet. On the other hand, you never want to go anywhere with someone that is threatening physical harm, so being aggressive could save your life.
A high level of self-awareness is required to communicate effectively. Spend time getting to know your own communication style in various situations and identify any limitations or areas which can be improved to better support what you want to achieve at work, home, and socially. If you truly desire stronger more supportive relationships and less stress and anxiety from conflict then practice being a more assertive communicator. It will help you build stronger, more satisfying relationships, diffuse anger, diminish guilt and make you more confident and respected both personally and professionally.