Communication style influences the manner that we get information and provide information to one another through our tone and words as well as through our expression, body language and gestures. In the written format communication styles can include anything from books and articles to email, text message, or Instagram.
Communication style can vary from one situation to another, sometimes it is at a more formal level (at work) and other times more informal (at home with family or friends). Within families, from our parents and those in our community, we have learned what level of communication is appropriate in different settings.
We may also have been taught, based on our individual family and culture, that communication style has a gender orientation. In other words, males and females may not have the same communication style. In fact, much has been written on this topic as explained in the book by John Gary, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (1992)-a must read and re-read book.
Four Communication Styles
This includes statements and questions that are honest and direct, with objective words and often with “I” in the message. Assertiveness also involves openness in the expression of feelings. The communicator is simply stating a fact or requesting information with no second agenda. The approach and attitude is caring, open, respectful, responsible and attentive with a relaxed voice, stance and posture.
*In most instances Assertiveness provides the best platform for effective communication. This is a style that can be learned.
Aggressive communication often can be identified as it includes blaming, labeling, accusations. The message often includes the word “you” as accusations are made. The voice can be loud, cold or intense and the attitude, sarcastic, intimidating, domineering, superior or even flippant and the body language either stressed or anticipatory and defensive. Listening is limited and there is little consideration or sensitivity to the other individuals position or words.
Aggressive style does NOT support effective communication.
Passive communication is just that, the individual is “passing” on their involvement in the communication. They avoid addressing the communication or issue at hand. This may be evident by not coming to the point, talking about other issues, using apologetic words or words that are ambiguous so that it is not possible to understand what the speaker really means. Sometimes there is a disconnect between what the communicator is saying and how they are expressing themselves (i.e., maybe the person is really very angry but shows no physical expression). Physically, the person may keep their head down, say very little and appear to be weak or stooped. The voice tone is often low or without expression.
Passive style does NOT support effective communication.
Basically, this communication style includes three parts; being passive, non-assertive and aggressive. This style is often associated with being sarcastic and not willing to be open and honest about real feelings or the actual request, at the same time indicating dissatisfaction or anger. Although in this communication style the level of anger is not shown necessarily by physical gestures, the tone and words used can indicate hostility. This communication is associated with something called “game playing” and is not helpful in cultivating open honest communication.
Passive-Aggressive style does Not support effective communication.
Why is it important to understand our communication style and why is it helpful to understand about communication and our culture and the culture of others?
Simply stated, when there is lack of understanding about communication style there is a greater chance for conflict. This conflict can occur among family members (i.e., daughters and parents), among peers, at work or with members of a community. The greater understanding we have about our communication skills and the more frequently we consider the culture and communication style, the better chance we have to reduce the chance for miscommunication and even conflict.
What is the objective of your communication-how often do you determine this before you initiate a communication?
We all know somebody who the minute they open their mouth they just start talking but the information they disseminate may seem endless or pointless.
· What happens to the communication, perhaps in this instance you have learned to tune out or filter for only the relevant information?
· How effective is this type of communication? What is the communicator really trying to tell you?
We also know other people who seem to withhold information even when you try to probe or use several techniques to get feedback.
· What can you do in this instance to enhance the quality of your communication?
A few other questions to consider…….
What did you learn from your parents about communication?
What did you learn from your culture about communication and how to communicate effectively?
What is the best part of your communication style?
What is something you would like to change about your communication style and how will you do this?
Written by Dr. G. who did did her graduate studies in Canada and came to south Florida to complete a Post-doctoral Fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at the University of Miami. Her career has been multi-faceted and has included; teaching, research, counseling, academic administration and mentorship. She is the author of numerous publications and most recently she has started doing podcasts and webinars. She is the President of her company “Innovations in Education” which serves to develop innovative strategies in education and mentorship.