Have you ever paid attention to the difference between the way you speak at the workplace and at an outing with your friends? Not only do you change your tone, but your body language also changes. You’re less formal and aren’t hesitant to speak your heart out in front of your friends.  On the other hand, you’re more formal and polite at your workplace.

We use different communication styles in different situations. Read on to understand how different styles play out in various situations and how we can use them to our advantage.

Importance Of Communication

At its simplest, communication is the process of exchanging information, ideas or concepts. There are four essential components of  communication:

  • Sender/Source: 

Imagines, creates and sends the information

  • Receiver: 

Receives and interprets the information from the source

  • Medium: 

The channel through which information travels from the source to the receiver

  • Message: 

The information transmitted from the source to the receiver

Navigating Different Communication Styles

Effective communication is necessary for business settings. When employees interact and collaborate more efficiently, it enhances productivity and helps the organization meet its goals. However, it’s important to remember that not everybody communicates similarly. There are four types of communication styles used for verbal and written communication in a business setting.

Before we read about the different communication styles, let’s understand what the term means. When people communicate, they use different styles depending on their personality, mood and context. A ‘communication style’ is how someone shares information with others. Individual communication styles are unique. Understanding others’ communication styles can help us improve our interpersonal relationships with them.

There are four basic types of communication styles commonly observed in workplaces. Let’s look at how we can navigate these unique communication styles:

  1. Passive Communication

Passive communicators are usually quiet and may seem indifferent to the topic at hand. They don’t like to take a stance or assert themselves. They prefer keeping their opinions to themselves. Such individuals use nonverbal cues like avoiding eye contact, slouching or shrugging.

As passive communicators avoid sharing their thoughts and feelings, it’s difficult to gauge their thoughts. Their lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings. Consider using the following techniques to effectively communicate with a passive communicator and avoid any unnecessary confusion:

  • Try to initiate one-on-one interactions by building a rapport with them instead of interacting in large groups

  • Give them enough time to think about their response when you ask them a question

  • Pose open-ended questions that encourage them to give an in-depth response

  • Encourage them to talk and share their thoughts by practicing active and attentive listening

  1. Aggressive Communication

Aggressive communicators aren’t afraid to express their thoughts, opinions and feelings. They often demand respect and can be intimidating. They tend to dominate conversations and often use a loud and authoritative tone. They aren’t hesitant to speak their mind even if it hurts others. Their body language can also be aggressive.

Here are some ways in which you can effectively communicate with an aggressive communicator:

  • Try to remain calm by separating your emotions from your thoughts and communicating in an objective manner

  • Be assertive and stand your ground when sharing your thoughts and ideas

  • Monitor your tone and body language and maintain professionalism

  • If an aggressive communicator becomes too demanding and behaves untowardly, avoid further engagement by walking away

  1. Passive-Aggressive Communication

Individuals who appear calm on the surface but harbor negative feelings are passive-aggressive communicators. They express their negative thoughts indirectly instead of sharing them openly. For example, a passive-aggressive communicator will appear as though they aren’t affected by something, which is a passive response–but they will react in emotionally-charged ways, which is aggressive behavior. You can spot a passive-aggressive person from the disconnect between what they say and what they do.

Here are a few ways to deal with individuals displaying passive-aggressive communication styles:

  • Communicate directly and clearly and don’t leave room for misunderstandings

  • Ask them for their ideas and feedback to make them feel valued and heard

  • Address negative behavior and let them know it is unprofessional

  • Manage conflict and disagreements effectively to prevent resentment and long-term negativity

  1. Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is one of the most productive and respectful communication styles. Assertive communicators know how to express their thoughts and feelings politely. They respect others’ feelings, opinions and ideas. Their nonverbal cues include eye contact and a calm tone. Let’s look at the ways to be assertive in our communication:

  • Listen actively and respectfully to others

  • Encourage others to share their ideas or opinions

  • Be open to feedback and identify areas of improvement

  • Respond to criticism and conflict calmly without getting affected by emotions

Harappa Speaking Effectively course has powerful frameworks for effective communication. The PAM–Purpose, Audience and Message–Framework will help you identify the different components of fruitful communication. You can also learn how to use nonverbal cues to exhibit confidence and communicate better. Sign up for the course now to improve your communication skills!


Explore topics such as What is Communication, Assertive Communication, Passive Communication, How to Improve Your Communication Skills, Channels of Communication & Types of Communication from Harappa Diaries and fine-tune your communication skills.

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