“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
OK – TIME OUT.
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