Communication styles and assertiveness

The way we communicate determines our interpersonal relationships. Maintaining good communication with the people around us is essential for having healthy relationships, feeling good with others and with yourself.

In this sense, the fact of presenting a particular style of communication determines our way of being in the world and of relating to others.

    The main styles of communication

    There are mainly four communication styles which can be used verbally and non-verbally.

    1. Passive Communication

    Passive communication is one in which the person does not indicate their needs, their desires, their opinions. It is characterized by ambiguous communication, without clear messages and in which the person does not express what he really thinks. It can denote insecurity and low self-esteem.

    On the other hand, people who communicate passively are often complacent with others, have trouble maintaining eye contact, and are often unable to say “no.” People with this communication style generally do not react to situations that upset or sadden them, accumulating discomfort.

    Once they can no longer bear this discomfort, they may explode and behave in ways that, in turn, make them feel guilty or ashamed.

    Common phrases: “I don’t know…”, “I guess”, “nothing is happening”.

      2. Aggressive communication

      This style of communication is characterized by the imposition of ideas and opinions above others. Highlights the egocentric position of those who use this style of communication and why not respecting the feelings and needs of another.

      It is usually a one-way style of communication, where opinions are expressed in a demanding and threatening way. People with this communication style often have a tense and authoritative attitude, with a high tone of voice. They also often interrupt the other person frequently.

      This type of communication can have negative consequences for the person. For example, in the world of work and in social relations, it can trigger conflicts and the rejection of others, estrangement. Similarly, aggressive communication can lead to emotional turmoil characterized by helplessness, anger, or frustration.

      Common phrases: “you should…”, “you should…”, “you don’t”.

        3. Passive-aggressive communication

        As indicated by his name, is a combination of the two previous styles. Passive-aggressive people are characterized by the fact that they are not direct, that is, they use indirect means to say what they think. They avoid resolving the conflict directly with the person in question and will turn to other people to ease their discomfort. Your non-verbal language may not match the verbal. For example, they may look bad, but not express that they are upset.

        4. Assertive Communication

        Stable and firm voice. This does not denote insecurity, and the person remains firm in the message they want to convey. The person talks about their feelings and needs honestly and openly. She is calm and her body posture is calm. It is not characterized by scolding the other, it usually focuses on how the person experienced the situation, how you felt and how you would like it to be. Unlike aggressive communication, it is a two-way style, where the other person is taken into account.

        Common Phrases: “What do you think?” “I think…” “I want to…”.

          What to do?

          Depending on each person’s circumstances and learning history, there may be a tendency to exhibit one style of communication or another. However, this is not an obstacle to forming an appropriate style of communication, which promotes the development of healthy personal, professional or family relationships.

          Professional psychological support such as that offered by PsicoAlmería uses therapies oriented to improve both assertive communication style and improve different social skills. By working on these techniques, we will achieve an increase in self-esteem.

          In addition, to work on assertive communication, there are different tools that can be used both in a personal and professional context. A confident person:

          • He knows how to say “no” when he deems it necessary and shows his attitude towards something.
          • You can ask for favors and react appropriately to an attack.
          • He knows how to express his feelings. To achieve assertive communication, there are three basic steps:
          • Objectively describe the situation.
          • Express how you feel about yourself, without scolding the other person.
          • Make the request.

          These steps can be displayed with an example somebody. Imagine that your partner or roommate always leaves their shoes thrown away in the living room. It’s something that bothers you, because you like the house to be tidy. One day you come home and you fall on your slippers. You get angry and wait for your partner to come home to blame him for always doing the same thing, that he is an abandoned person and that you are fed up. In the end, you end up arguing and stop talking for a few days.

          Using the same situation, imagine that once this person comes home from work, you decide to talk to them.

          First, objectively describe the situation: “I came home and came across your shoes that were in the living room.” Then you say how you feel: “It bothered me, because I don’t like to see the living room messy” and finally the request is made: “You could not leave your shoes in the living room, if do you like it?” Following these steps does not guarantee that the shoes will no longer be in the living room tomorrow, but at least a conflict resulting from miscommunication is avoided.


          In short, to have healthy relationships, assertiveness is essential, knowing how to say what you think honestly and respectfully with each other. The help of a psychologist can be very helpful in changing those communication styles that stray away from assertiveness.

          Therefore, if you identify with one of these communication styles, you can seek professional help, such as a psychologist. PsicoAlmeria online and in person, which will provide you with the tools you need to communicate assertively.

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