Excerpt from The Practice of Control: Styles of Communication

Communication skills, like anger, are learned behaviors that begin within our family of origin, and then expand outward as our world becomes enlarged. Most of us use different styles of communication depending on the situation, our moods, and the behavior of the person with whom we are attempting to communicate. We also use different styles based on our basic personality types, temperaments, and the roles we are in during the time when we are communicating with the other person. Communication is a skill and, as such, can be learned—with practice!

The Four Styles of Communication:

Passive Communication–The passive communicator avoids direct eye contact, fails to actively express his or her feelings, and tends to have low self-esteem. The anger is self-directed rather than directed at the source of the anger.

Passive-Aggressive Communication–The passive-aggressive communicator often sounds passive, but is hostile in his/her manner of speaking. He often uses sarcasm and other hostile gestures to get his point across. The listener is left without any indication of what the passive-aggressive communicator needs or wants.

Aggressive Communication–The aggressive communicator invades the space of the listener, speaks in a threatening manner, and may throw objects, glare or attempt to intimidate the listener. He or she often attempts to blame the listener for whatever the source of the disagreement may be.

Assertive Communication–The assertive communicator speaks in a reasonable tone, establishes eye contact with the listener, uses “I” messages, and clearly states his or her needs, feelings and requests. The assertive communicator invites the listener to work towards a mutually satisfactory resolution of the conflict. This individual demonstrates skills in emotional intelligence.

George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF, CEAP
Diplomat, American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anderson & Anderson®, The Trusted Name in Anger Management

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