Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive Communication
In any type of relationship, knowing what kind of communicator you are is important in promoting a healthier interaction. 3 major communication styles:
During passive communication, a person prioritizes the needs, wants, and feelings of others, even at their own expense. The person does not express their own needs, or does not stand up for them. This can lead to being taken advantage of, even by well meaning people who are unaware of the passive communicator's needs and wants. These type of communicators tend to be:
· Soft spoken / quiet
· Allows others to take advantage
· Prioritizes needs of others
· Poor eye contact / looks down or away
· Does not express one's own needs or wants
· Lack of confidence
Through aggressive communication, a person expresses that only their own needs,
wants, and feelings matter. The other person is bullied, and their needs are ignored. These type of communicators tend to be:
· Speaks in a loud or overbearing way
· Unwilling to compromise
· Use of criticism, humiliation, and domination
· Frequently interrupts or does not listen
· Disrespectful toward others
Assertive communication emphasizes the importance of both peoples' needs. During assertive communication, a person stands up for their own needs, wants, and feelings, but also listens to and respects the needs of others. Assertive communication is defined by confidence, and a willingness to compromise. These type of communicators tend to be:
· Listens without interruption
· Clearly states needs and wants
· Willing to compromise
· Stands up for own rights
· Confident tone / body language
· Good eye contact
Relationship Conflict Resolution
Focus on the problem, not the person.
When a disagreement turns to personal insults, raised voices, or mocking tones, the
conversation is no longer productive. Be careful to focus on the problem without
placing blame on your partner. If a disagreement becomes personal, you should
pause the conversation.
Use reflective listening.
Oftentimes during arguments we focus on getting our own point across rather than
listening to our partner. Before responding to your partner, restate what they have
said to you in your own words. Continue this process until your partner agrees that
you understand. Next, share your side. Your partner should reflect back your ideas in their own words until they too understand. Using this technique will help both
individuals feel listened to and understood, even if you disagree.
Use "I" statements.
When sharing a concern, begin your sentence with "I". For example: "I feel hurt when you don't tell me you'll be late". With this sentence format we show that we are taking responsibility for our own emotion rather than blaming our partner. The
alternative sentence-"You never tell me when you're going to be late"-will often
cause a partner to become defensive.
Know when to take a time-out.
When you and your partner are becoming argumentative, insulting, or aggressive, it's a good idea to take a time-out. Have a plan in place so you or your partner can call for a break when needed. Spend some time doing something alone that you find
relaxing. When you've both calmed down, you and your partner can return to solving the problem. Be sure that you do return-it isn't a good idea to leave these issues unaddressed.
Work toward a resolution.
Disagreement is a normal part of a relationship. If it becomes clear that you and your partner will not agree, focus on a resolution instead. Try to find a compromise that benefits both individuals. Ask yourself if this disagreement really matters to your relationship, and let yourself move on if not.