Strong communication skills is one of the most valuable assets you can bring to an organization. Clear, confident communication improves efficiency and reduces errors. However, no amount of high-tech communication tools can remedy essential personality flaws in your employees’ individual communication styles.
Below, we take a look at the three most common business communication styles that organizations must identify and remedy:
Assertive communication straddles a fine line between domineering and dominant. This is the communication style most commonly associated with leaders and other high self-esteem individuals – confident, clear and concise. An assertive communicator doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind, yet is empathetic enough to not hurt others’ feelings. You can learn about assertive public speaking with this free course from Udemy.
Broadly speaking, the following traits are associated with assertive communication:
Assertive communication is usually associated with high self-worth. Such individuals tend to be confident, emotionally expressive, and secure in their abilities. They actively protect their own rights, but are mindful of not trampling on the rights of others. They are ambitious, but not pathologically so. They tend to be highly charismatic and trustworthy, making them prime candidates for leadership roles – think Barrack Obama, Steve McQueen or Jack Welch.
Assertive communication is marked by clear, confident verbal/non-verbal gestures and signals. An assertive communicator would be precise and polite, but firm in his/her requests. Their body language, voice, and language can be seen as follows:
- Body Language: Open, confident postures with expressive hand movements and strong eye contact. They give the impression of always being in control, which can often be a source of inspiration to others (learn how to improve your body language with this amazing course).
- Voice: Even, medium-pitched voice with a pleasant tonality.
- Language: Use full, complete sentences with an emphasis on polite manners. Prefix their requests with ‘Please’, and end with ‘Thank You’. They will apologize (but not profusely) when they are wrong and prefer to use professional over colloquial terms. Their language is often inclusive and emphasizes teamwork and community (“let us do it”, “we should discuss this” etc.)
Aggressive communication style is assertive communication stretched to its pathological extreme. Aggressive communicators care about winning at all costs – think Gordon Gekko, Patrick Bateman, or Alec Baldwin’s character from Glengarry Glen Ross. This style is characterized by bombast, often hostile rhetoric, which, while effective, can alienate a lot of people and affect a team’s morale.
The following traits are most commonly associated with aggressive communication style:
Aggressive communicators tend to be extremely ambitious, belligerent and demanding. Their working style is characterized by bullying and intimidation. They seek to win arguments by volume rather than rational debate. They are often extroverted and enjoy being the center of attention. This communication style is rarely suited for most industries and can negatively affect the workplace atmosphere.
This style prioritizes style over substance. Their body language, rhetoric and voice is marked by brash loudness, as given below:
- Body Language: Open, hostile body language with fast, jerky movements. They have a habit of intruding the listener’s space and have aggressive facial expressions.
- Voice: Loud, booming voice that emphasizes ‘bigness’. Aggressive communicators often use their voice as a tool to intimidate other people into submission.
- Language: Aggressive communicators are fixated on the ‘I’. They frequently use themselves as reference points in any conversation (“So I said”, “Watch how I do it”, etc.). They use sarcasm and name-calling to cow others. Often, such communicators have a lot of superficial charm and a way with words, which often helps them win over people initially.
III. Passive Style
The passive communication style is fixated on avoiding conflict and responsibilities. Passive communicators are willing to take orders and rarely speak up in social settings. Their participation in workplace activities is usually unwilling (ex: Stephen Root from Office Space). They may often be aggressive, but in a passive manner – think George Costanza from Seinfeld.
Below, we take a look at the traits most commonly associated with passive communication style:
Passive communicators are hesitant to express their true feelings, prefer indirect communication methods and are usually apologetic of their own behaviour. They may have very high intelligence but poor social skills or self-esteem. They are frequently indecisive and capitulate to most demands, especially from aggressive colleagues and superiors. They usually channel their aggression passively instead of confronting others directly. Frequently, passive communicators have a lot of empathy and high EQ, which, unfortunately, gets masked by their passivity.
The passive communication style can be summed up in one word “Don’t”. Such communicators will make it a point to not speak up, participate, and become involved. This affects the way they speak, their voice, as well as body language, as we’ll see below:
- Body Language: Passive communicators have a body language that points inwards, not outwards. Their posture is generally closed and their gestures limited and modest. They keep to their own space and display submissive body language, especially in confrontations.
- Voice: Low volume, soft voice and high pitch – these are the three features of passive voice.
- Language: Passive communicators frequently pass on the agency to the listener (“Let’s do what you like”, “I’m fine with whatever you choose”, etc.). Despite above average writing skills, they remain poor communicators because of their imprecision and verbosity. They often use filler words when they speak (“like”, “oh”, “umm”) and apologize profusely for any faults.
As you can see, the assertive communication style is most suited for any workplace. It fosters clarity and precision with an emphasis on politeness and professionalism. Every worker should strive to cultivate a habit of assertive communication. This course from Udemy can teach you how to speak more fluently, smoothly and confidently in any setting.