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Communication styles

4 Basic Communication Styles. Tip: Use The Assertive Style!

Knowing and understanding different communication styles can help you to navigate conversations and interactions more effectively, especially when dealing with less effective styles.

By recognizing the unique characteristics of assertive, passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive communication, you can tailor your approach to better meet the needs of each situation and improve the outcome of your interactions.

Whether you are communicating with friends, family, colleagues, or clients, having an understanding of different communication styles can greatly enhance your ability to build positive and productive relationships.




What are the communication styles?

Communication styles are the ways in which individuals express and receive information, both verbally and non-verbally.

Commonly recognized communication styles include: assertive, passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive.

These styles can be influenced by personality, cultural background, and social and emotional intelligence. Effective communication involves the ability to adapt one’s style to different situations, and to effectively understand and interpret others’ communication styles.








Clear, direct, and respectful expression of thoughts and feelings, while also considering the rights and feelings of others.

Builds mutual respect and understanding, promotes clear and honest communication, can resolve conflicts effectively

Can be perceived as confrontational or intimidating


Avoiding confrontation or expressing thoughts and feelings directly, often results in preserving relationships but neglecting personal needs and wants.

Avoids conflicts and maintain relationships, reduces personal stress

Can be misinterpreted as disinterest or weakness, leads to suppressed feelings and unmet needs


Overbearing, overly forceful expression of thoughts and feelings, disregards the rights and feelings of others.

May get immediate results, assert dominance

Can damage relationships, increase conflict, and be perceived as rude or hostile


Indirect expression of anger or frustration through actions or behaviors, often disguised as obedience or agreement.

Avoids direct confrontation, may preserve relationships

Can create confusion, damage trust, and be misinterpreted


Assertive communication style - the best!

The assertive communication style is characterized by clear, direct, and respectful expression of thoughts and feelings, while also considering the rights and feelings of others. Here are some key characteristics of the assertive style:

  • Direct and clear expression of thoughts and feelings
  • Respect for oneself and others
  • Confidence in expressing opinions and making decisions
  • Active listening and consideration of others’ perspectives
  • Ability to compromise and negotiate. If you’d like to know more about negotiating skills, read: Negotiation Skills: Proven Tactics For Achieving Your Goals
  • Willingness to assertively address conflicts or disagreements
  • Respect for personal boundaries and the boundaries of others
  • Emotional self-control and the ability to remain calm and professional
  • Honesty and authenticity in communication.

Befenits of assertive communication

  • Improved relationships: Assertive communication can improve relationships by fostering mutual respect and understanding. When you communicate assertively, you are able to express your needs and opinions in a clear and direct manner, which can help to resolve conflicts and build stronger relationships.

  • Increased self-esteem: Assertive communication can increase self-esteem by empowering you to stand up for yourself and communicate your thoughts and feelings effectively.

  • Better decision-making: Assertive communication can improve decision-making by ensuring that all relevant information and perspectives are considered. When you communicate assertively, you are more likely to gather all the necessary information and engage in productive dialogue.

  • Reduced stress and anxiety: Assertive communication can reduce stress and anxiety by helping you to express your feelings and needs in a healthy and productive manner. This can lead to improved relationships and reduced stress and anxiety.

  • Improved conflict resolution: Assertive communication can help by managing conflicts by fostering clear and direct communication. When you communicate assertively, you are able to express your needs and opinions in a way that encourages resolution and understanding.


By communicating assertively, you can effectively express your thoughts, feelings, and needs and build stronger and more productive relationships.

Becoming a (more) assertive communicator

Becoming an assertive communicator takes practice and self-awareness. Here are some steps you can take to develop your assertiveness skills:

  1. Identify your thoughts and feelings: Take the time to reflect on your thoughts and emotions before expressing them. This will help you to communicate in a clear and confident manner.

  2. Practice active listening: Listen carefully to what others are saying and ask questions to clarify their perspective. This will show respect and help build rapport.

  3. Use “I” statements: When expressing your thoughts and feelings, use “I” statements rather than blaming others. This makes it clear that you are taking responsibility for your own emotions and thoughts.

  4. Set boundaries: Learn to say “no” in a firm but respectful manner when someone is asking for something you are not comfortable with or able to do.

  5. Practice assertiveness in low-stakes situations: Start by practicing assertiveness in situations with low stakes, such as expressing a different opinion or making a request in a social setting.

  6. Speak up for yourself: Don’t be afraid to speak up and express your opinions, even if they are different from others. This will help you to become more confident and assertive over time.

  7. Seek feedback: Ask friends, family, or a mentor for feedback on your assertiveness skills and how you can improve.

  8. Be willing to compromise: Assertiveness doesn’t mean being rigid and unwilling to compromise. Be open to negotiation and finding solutions that work for everyone. 

If you would like to read more about assertiveness, try Wikipedia.


Passive Communication style

The passive communication style is characterized by avoiding confrontation and keeping emotions hidden, which can result in the suppression of one’s own needs and opinions. Here are some key characteristics of the passive style:

  • Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings directly
  • Tendency to avoid conflict or confrontation
  • Insecurity and fear of being rejected or perceived as aggressive
  • Difficulty setting boundaries and asserting oneself
  • Passive acceptance of other people’s opinions and decisions
  • Avoidance of expressing opinions or making decisions
  • Difficulty speaking up for oneself
  • Difficulty saying “no” or asking for what one needs
  • Inability to express frustration, anger, or disappointment in a healthy way.

Best way to approach passive communicators

When dealing with passive communicators, it’s important to approach the interaction with sensitivity and understanding. Here are some tips for effectively dealing with passive communicators:

  1. Show empathy: Try to understand where the passive person is coming from and show that you care about their perspective.

  2. Encourage direct communication: Gently encourage the passive person to express their thoughts and feelings directly, rather than bottling them up.

  3. Avoid aggressive behavior: Passive individuals may be sensitive to criticism or confrontation, so it’s important to avoid aggressive behavior or language.

  4. Be clear and direct: When communicating with a passive person, it’s important to be clear and direct in your own communication. This will help them to better understand your perspective.

  5. Give them space: If the passive person is not ready to express themselves, it’s important to give them space and time to do so in their own way and at their own pace.

  6. Offer support: Let the passive person know that you are there to support them and that they can come to you if they need help.

  7. Lead by example: By being assertive and direct in your own communication, you can show the passive person what healthy communication looks like and encourage them to develop their own assertiveness skills.


Agressive communication style

Communication styles

The aggressive communication style is characterized by a dominant and confrontational approach, which often results in hurting others’ feelings or damaging relationships. Here are some key characteristics of the aggressive style:

  • Domination of conversations and interactions
  • Tendency to interrupt or talk over others
  • Use of intimidating or threatening language
  • Blaming and criticizing others
  • Lack of empathy or consideration for others’ feelings
  • Inability to listen to or understand others’ perspectives
  • Lack of willingness to compromise or negotiate
  • Tendency to act impulsively or lash out in anger
  • Inability to control emotions or express frustration in a healthy way.



Dealing with aggressive communicators? 

Dealing with aggressive communicators can be challenging, but there are strategies that can help to de-escalate the situation and encourage more productive communication. Here are some tips for approaching aggressive communicators:

  1. Remain calm: It’s important to stay calm and not respond with aggression when dealing with an aggressive communicator. This will help to defuse the situation and prevent it from escalating.

  2. Use active listening: Listen carefully to what the aggressive person is saying and acknowledge their feelings. This will show that you are trying to understand their perspective.

  3. Set boundaries: Clearly state your boundaries and let the aggressive person know what behavior is not acceptable.

  4. Avoid blaming or criticism: Avoid blaming or criticizing the aggressive person, as this is likely to escalate the situation. Instead, focus on finding solutions and addressing the underlying issues.

  5. Seek to understand: Try to understand the root cause of the aggressive behavior and look for ways to address it.

  6. Use assertiveness: If necessary, assert yourself in a calm and confident manner. This can help to de-escalate the situation and prevent it from becoming more confrontational.

  7. Seek outside help: If the situation becomes unmanageable, it may be necessary to seek outside help, such as a mediator or counselor.


The passive-aggressive communication style

The passive-aggressive communication style is characterized by indirectly expressing negative feelings or opposition through passive means, such as sarcasm or procrastination. This style can be confusing and damaging to relationships, as it can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of trust.

Here are some key characteristics of the passive-aggressive style:

  • Indirect expression of negative feelings or opposition
  • Use of sarcasm, eye-rolling, or other nonverbal cues to express disapproval
  • Procrastination or avoiding taking action on tasks or responsibilities
  • Being resistant or uncooperative in response to requests or demands
  • Expressing anger or frustration through sulking or withdrawing from interactions
  • Blaming or criticizing others indirectly or through backhanded compliments
  • Sending mixed messages or being inconsistent in behavior
  • Difficulty expressing needs or opinions directly and assertively
  • Engaging in power struggles or attempting to control others indirectly.

Dealing with passive-aggressive communicators

When dealing with people who use passive-aggressive communication, it can be difficult to decipher their true intentions due to the duplicity of their negative emotions.

Here are some tips for approaching passive-aggressive communicators:

  1. Identify the behavior: Be aware of the passive-aggressive behavior and its impact on communication and relationships.

  2. Communicate openly: Encourage open and direct communication, and avoid being passive-aggressive in response to the other person’s behavior.

  3. Address the behavior directly: If the behavior is affecting your relationship or ability to communicate effectively, address it directly and assertively.

  4. Avoid being defensive: When addressing the behavior, avoid becoming defensive or engaging in a power struggle.

  5. Seek to understand: Try to understand the reasons behind the passive-aggressive behavior and address the underlying issues.

  6. Set clear boundaries: Set clear boundaries and expectations for communication, and let the passive-aggressive person know what behaviors are not acceptable.

  7. Seek outside help: If the situation becomes unmanageable, it may be necessary to seek outside help, such as a mediator or counselor.


Use the assertive communication style

In conclusion, assertive communication is widely considered to be the most effective style in a variety of situations.

By expressing thoughts, feelings, and needs directly, honestly, and respectfully, assertive communication can help to build stronger relationships, increase self-esteem, improve decision-making, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve conflict resolution.

When everyone in a team is able to communicate assertively, it can lead to improved collaboration, increased productivity, and a more positive work environment.

While it may take some effort to develop this style, participating in a training or coaching program can provide valuable insights and practical strategies for communicating effectively.

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, the ability to communicate assertively is a critical skill that can benefit individuals and teams in countless ways.


Disc communication style

The Disc Model is a communication model that was developed to help individuals better understand their communication styles and the communication styles of those around them. This model suggests that individuals can be categorized into four different communication styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. 

It has developed to a personality model, and at this moment it is used to define someone’s personality and what type of communication comes with it.  You can read about it in DISC personality types and communication styles unleashed.


Recommended book

One popular book about communication styles is “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High” by Al Switzler, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Stephen Covey.

This book provides practical tools and strategies for communicating effectively in high-stakes situations. The authors explain how to handle tough conversations with diplomacy and tact, while still getting your point across.

They discuss the importance of staying in dialogue and avoiding defensiveness, and offer techniques for overcoming emotional obstacles to effective communication.

Additionally, the book covers ways to identify and deal with the different communication styles, including assertive, passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive communication. 



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