Communication: What’s Your Style?
By: Kia Batiste
Communication is something that we utilize everyday. We use communication to get through our daily activities, complete tasks, learn. You name it! So, what is communication anyways and how does it work?
According to Chun (2015), Communication is act of expressing ideas, information, knowledge, thoughts and feelings, as well as understanding what others are expressing. Furthermore, communication involves both sending and receiving messages, as depicted in the diagram below.
We all have the ability to communicate, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are effectively communicating. Research shows that 65% and 95% of the meaning of a message is conveyed through the individuals voice and body language (Chun, 2015). Thus, the meaning and intention of our message can be misconstrued by the voice and body language that we are using. Different voice tones and body gestures are characterizations of different communication styles. This in turn makes some communications styles effective and some ineffective. With this being said, lets take a look at a few communication styles that don’t promote effective communication.
1. Aggressive: This style is used for winning at someone else’s expense. The needs of the individual that utilizes this style are much more important than others due to this individual believing that they have more rights than the others around them. This style is characterized by a loud voice, big, fast and jerky gestures, the invasion of others personal space or a scowling facial expression.
2. Passive-aggressive: When using this style, the individual appears passive on the surface, but they are really acting out anger in an indirect way. The individual that uses this style normally feels powerless and resentful. The voice of this style is characterized as “sugary and sweet” and body posture can come off as sarcastic or patronizing. In addition, the individual may often be too close while pretending to be warm and friendly and may even have a sweet and innocent facial expression.
3. Submissive: This style is all about pleasing others in order to avoid conflict. The other person’s needs are more important. This style is characterized by a soft voice with a small posture, such as the individual hanging their head down. Furthermore, there is no eye contact between this individual and whom they are communicating with.
4. Manipulative: This is a calculated style of communication. The individual that uses this style utilizes the skill of influencing and controlling others to their advantage. Their spoken message often has an underlying message in which the other person is unaware of. This style is characterized by a patronizing, envious, ingratiating and often high pitch voice.
With these communication styles come “road blocks” such as judging, labeling, threatening and blaming that further inhibit effective communication. While these road blocks are harsh, we are all guilty of using at least one of these road blocks and communication styles mentioned above, both intentionally and unintentionally. Although they are commonly used, these communication styles lack the respect of self and others. In addition, the expression of thoughts and feelings through open, honest and direct communication is absent. With this being said, it is vital to use a communication style that implements all of these elements to effectively communicate with others. This in turn ensures that message we’re trying to convey getting lost. So, lets take a look at the meaning of an Assertive Communication Style.
Assertive: healthiest and most effective style of communication style, but the least used. This style confidently communicates without resorting to manipulation. Limits are clear and are not broken due to the actions of others. This style is characterized by a medium pitch voice, good eye contact and being in control and respectful of others space.
Assertive communication is a lot easier said than done, especially when you are overwhelmed with emotions. While assertive communication is the most effective style, it takes time and practice. When communicating assertively, you are aware that you aren’t always going to get what you want, but you have the possibility of creating an understanding between you and the individual that you are communicating with. From this can come compromise and the relief of knowing that the situation was handled in the most effective way. In addition, there are no ill feelings between you and others in the discussion.
So, what’s your communication style?
Chun, Youngsub. “How to Communicate with Others: The Effective Communication Skills.” LinkedIn, 22 Jan. 2015, www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-communicate-others-effective-communication-skills-youngsub-chun.
Newton , Claire. “The Five Communication Styles.” Claire Newton, July 2011, www.clairenewton.co.za/my-articles/the-five-communication-styles.html.