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  • Kimberly B. Lewis

Communication Styles and How to Ask for What You Want



There are so many different ways to communicate, as well as communication styles. There are four basic styles of communication, yet everyone has their own unique way of getting their message across to others.


The four basic styles are:

1. Passive

2. Aggressive

3. Passive-Aggressive

4. Assertive


Let's explore each briefly. Pick out the communication style that best describes your style.


Passive communicators are usually have a hard time expressing themselves. Others may speak for them, which can be frustrating and lead to miscommunication and resentment.

This kind of communicator will say things like: "it's okay. I'll do what everyone else wants to do" or "I just want us all to get along."


Aggressive communicators are the exact opposite. They control the conversation and the narrative. It's all about what they want and how they want it. They are poor listeners and tend to control or criticize others for their ideas. They cut other off in mid-sentence to get their point across. They may also dominate through their body language by frowning or rolling their eyes with others are speaking.


Aggressive communicators will use phrases like: "Because I said so" or "I'm the boss and this is the way it's going to be."


Passive-aggressive communicators appear to be passive on the surface, but they are boiling with anger or resentment underneath. They may sabbotoge a project or relationship without anyone realizing it initially. These folks are what my grandparents used to describe as those who throw the rock and hide their hands. They tend to be sarcastic frequently, their words don't add up with their actions and they have a hard time owning up to their emotions.


A passive-aggressive person may say "fine or whatever," often. After saying or doing something rude, they will play it off by saying "I was just joking."


Assertive communicators encourage open communication. They open the dialogue to others and considers the opinions of others. They balance the conversation and replace the "I" statements with "We."


Everyone can learn new communication skills and adjust their styles to be more open and assertive. This style is particularly beneficial in the family setting and the workplace. No one is an island and everyone needs a team of people and we all need to part of a team, at home and at work.


Here are some steps to adjust your style to a more assertive style:


1. Practice expressing your needs and wants. It takes time and practice for many people to ask for what they need, especially if you're always the person giving and doing for others.


2. Take ownership by telling others how you feel. Use “I” statements with a description, but saying something like “I feel frustrated when you don’t respond to my questions because it makes me feel like I'm not important to you or the team."


3. Maintain eye contact and comfortable body language.


4. Listen when the other person is speaking and refrain from interrupting.


5. Learn how to say “no." Don't agree to anything that you don't want to do.

Communication styles are vital to building strong, stable relationships. Good communication helps people to have positive mental and physical health. People who have good communication skills tend to make friends easier and connect with others. This wards off loneliness, anxiety and depression.


I encourage you to work on your communication skills, which includes listening and exercising restraint. Finally, when you ask for what you want and need in a non-combative matter you will find that your home and work life will be more enjoyable and your relationships will last the test of time.


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