“We have all the tools in the world to accomplish the mission, yet too many

times we fail to get anything done. It’s all your fault.”

“If you are wondering what I am referring to, you really should know.”

“I don’t mean to be so mean, but I really wish you understood what I am

talking about.”


If any of the three first sentences made you want to pull your hair out or

run screaming in the other direction, it’s perfectly understandable.

Yet unfortunately every day we all encounter people who say something

leaving us feeling guilty, frustrated, angry or just confused.

The key to breaking free of those feelings is understanding how people

communicate. I am not talking about whether they prefer to call, text or


I am talking about their communication style.

There are basically five communication style:

ASSERTIVE – The healthiest and most effective form of communication.

Assertive and confident, without resorting to be aggressive or playing

games. Person knows what she wants and communicates the task in a

positive way. Example: Can you please help me understand what you

imagine for your ad campaign? I would love to take on your project but I

require at least 48-hours turn-around-time. I can’t have the project

complete by 4 today but could by 4 on Wednesday. This style of

communicator aims for a win/win situation, where both sides leave feeling

confident about what took place and have a clear objective to continue a

project or task.

AGGRESSIVE – This style is about “it’s my way or nothing.” Aggressive

communicators are out to win, not caring who they trample on their way to

the finish line. With this style, there is a lot of name calling, sarcasm,

insults and blame – “Your ideas are stupid. You need to shut up and do it

my way.” “It’s your fault we lost the client, the sale…” This is an ineffective

form of communication because people on the receiving end usually shut

down or react to the insults by saying something negative. Tasks take

much longer because it’s more of a power struggle rather than teamwork.

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE – Think of this style as “Watch your back.” They will

be nice to your face, but gossip and trash talk you when you are out of the

room. They usually feel resentful or powerless. On the surface, they appear

nice and passive but are ready to cause trouble. Often play two people

against each other and by doing so, makes them feel like they have power.

MANIPULATIVE – This style of communicator is always plotting and

scheming to get exactly what he wants even though he doesn’t want you

to know it. They can control and influence others to their own advantage.

They fish for compliments and say things to make others feel sorry for

them. For example, I wish I got paid as much as you do. If I did, I would

pay for lunch.

SUBMISSIVE – This style is doing whatever it takes to just get along and

not cause any trouble, hard feelings or fighting. Submissive communicators

put other’s needs before their own and believe other people have better

ideas, plans and strategies. Because they cannot stand up for themselves,

they often feel resentful because they feel others use them. Submissive

communicators say things like “Oh, there’s only one piece of chocolate

cake left. You can have it.” (Even though they really want it.) Or when you

ask them what they want to do, “Whatever you want. I don’t really care.”

Now that you know the five styles of communicators, next week we’ll

discuss how to recognize your style and tips for communicating with each


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