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Communication Styles and Common Myths

Sep 24, 2019Relationships and Communication, Self-Help0 comments

Communication styles

In our last blog article, we covered the key (but often unknown) differences between introverts and extroverts. However, understanding these differences is only part of the key to unlocking better relationships with your partner, loved ones, friends and colleagues. Understanding the communication styles of those you interact with is also crucial to making the most of your important relationships. In this article, we cover the different communication styles and uncover some of the most stubborn myths surrounding these.

4 Most common communication styles

Most people tend to fall into one of four broad communication styles. With a little understanding of these, you will find that you may be able to determine who generally fits into which category. But be sure to continue below to dispel some of the most persistent myths about these styles – as it’s never always black or white!

  1. Passive

Passive communicators often struggle with making themselves understood because they tend to yield to others. They might even be considered to be ‘push-overs’ by others or ‘people pleasers’. Passive communicators can have difficulty in expressing their feelings and will often try to avoid confronting or upsetting others, and in doing so become overly adaptable and sacrifice their own needs or feelings for others. You will also notice that passive communicators are more likely to avoid eye contact, display poor posture, and have difficulty saying ‘no’.

Passive communicators tend to say things like:

“I don’t mind” or

“Do what you like” or

“I don’t want to cause trouble”

  1. Aggressive

Aggressive communicators, just as you’d imagine, tend to be the polar opposite to passive communicators. Those with an aggressive communication style tend to be quite direct, intimidating and emotional in their approach, which often leaves others feeling as though they haven’t been heard. Aggressive communicators tend to be louder, more physical and make more eye contact than their passive counterparts.

Aggressive communicators often say things which mean:

“I’m right and you’re wrong” or

“This is your fault” or

“You’ll thank me later”

  1. Passive-aggressive

Whilst passive-aggressive communicators may appear to be passive on the surface, they are often not ‘going with the flow’, as it might seem. Rather, passive-aggressive communicators will use other more subtle ways to express their aggression, such as eye-rolling, muttering under their breath, through sarcasm, or might say one thing whilst going on to do another thing completely.

Passive-aggressive communicators will often do things like:

Agree to do something, but then avoid doing it or do it differently

Agree with one person, only to go and say something different to another person

Roll their eyes, or say things like

“Whatever” or

“Don’t be surprised if…”

  1. Assertive

Often considered to be the ‘best of both worlds’, assertive communication is the most effective way of communicating.  The assertive communicator is quite good at making their point understood without being overly passive or aggressive. This means of communicating involves being self-assured and confident in approach, without being overbearing or bull-headed.

Assertive communicators will often use inclusive language, saying things like:

“Everyone has a right to their opinion” or

“I can see that you’re upset by XYZ…” or

“Why don’t you tell me your thoughts?”

“Let me try to understand how you see it”

Common myths about communication styles

It’s easy to make assumptions about communication styles based on personality types such as ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’. However, as we discussed in our last blog, titled The Differences Between Introverts and Extroverts, nothing is black or white when it comes to personalities. In truth, most of us are a mixture of each personality type, and likewise, we tend to use a mixture of communication styles. Dispelling some of the most common myths can make it much easier to understand the communication styles of those you love, work with, or interact with.

Myth #1: Introverts aren’t great communicators

Because of the inherently introspective nature of introverts, people often assume that introverts are not good at expressing themselves. On the flip side, this also leads people to believe that good communicators they encounter must be extroverts. The fact is, these are simply myths. Anyone can be a good communicator, regardless of their personality type. In fact introverts tend to be more reflective, so they often think before speaking.

Myth #2: Confident people make good communicators

Confidence is definitely an important component of being a good communicator. But being confident does not necessarily mean having good communication skills. The key to good communication is in understanding the needs of others and tailoring your communication style to suit.  And of course part of being a great communicator is not just the speaking component, but being a good listener too.

Myth #3: My communication style will work for everyone – especially if I’m a good speaker

There is a huge difference between getting up on stage and delivering a speech and talking to a group of colleagues at an office meeting. Just as you would speak differently given the occasion, it’s important to communicate differently based on the people you’re speaking with. Your confident and assertive approach might work well at work, if you’re surrounded by other confident and assertive people. However, when speaking with someone who uses a different communication style than yours means tailoring your approach to ensure they feel heard and understood.

Myth #4: Quiet people don’t have an opinion

This is perhaps one of the most persistent myths about communication. If you’re a confident speaker and/or an extrovert, you might be tempted to think that those who don’t speak up have nothing to say. Quite often, nothing could be further from the truth. As we discussed in our most recent article, introverted people often need more time to assess the situation and organise their thoughts and feelings before expressing an opinion.

Myth #5: I’ll never be a good communicator

The truth is, good communicators are made and not born, i.e. communication is a learnt skill. There are very few people to whom communicating effectively with a range of different types of people comes naturally. If you find that you’re not an effective communicator (perhaps you’re shy, scared of public speaking, or nervous about speaking up in meetings or in a group), there are some great techniques you can use to develop your communication skills. Likewise, if you have trouble communicating with people who use a different communication style than your own, you can become great at adapting your style to be effective in any situation. The key is practice and having the right tools!

If your communication style could be more effective and you could really use some guidance with learning new communication skills and techniques, reach out to Integrated Health Specialists today. We’ve helped many clients to be better communicators, to improve their personal, social and business relationships. Get in touch today to find out how we could help you.

Michelle van Namen

Author: Michelle van Namen