Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, including work relationships. Understanding the different communication styles in the workplace can help you communicate effectively with your colleagues and achieve your goals. Below, we outline the four main communication styles in the workplace: assertive, passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive. We also discuss their traits, provide examples, and explain how they play out in a work setting so you can identify them.
How Communication Impacts the Workplace
Communication is a fundamental aspect of any business, and it can make or break an organization. Effective communication styles in the workplace enable employees to collaborate, exchange ideas, and make informed decisions that benefit the business. In contrast, poor communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and a lack of trust among employees, ultimately impacting the company’s bottom line. Miscommunication can cause missed deadlines, errors, and decreased productivity, resulting in financial losses.
Clear and effective communication styles in the workplace also help businesses build and maintain positive relationships with clients, stakeholders, and partners. Effective communication can help businesses understand their clients’ needs, expectations, and concerns, enabling them to deliver better products and services. Furthermore, clear communication with stakeholders can help businesses make informed decisions and establish trust and credibility, which is essential for long-term success. Overall, businesses that prioritize effective communication styles in the workplace tend to have more engaged employees, satisfied clients, and better financial performance than those that don’t.
Communication Styles in the Workplace
Assertive Communication Style
Assertive communication is the most effective and appropriate communication style in most workplace situations. People with an assertive communication style are confident, direct, and honest in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They are also respectful of others’ thoughts and feelings.
Traits of Assertive Communication Style:
- Direct and clear
- Honest and transparent
- Respectful of others
- Confident and self-assured
- Expressive but not aggressive
Examples of Assertive Communication Style:
- “I understand your point of view, but I have a different perspective.”
- “I need more information before I can make a decision.”
- “I appreciate your feedback, and I will take it into consideration.”
- “I feel uncomfortable with this situation, and I would like to discuss it with you.”
An assertive communication style is the ideal communication style in a work setting. It allows individuals to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a clear and respectful manner. This type of communication style is effective in resolving conflicts and achieving goals.
Passive Communication Style
The passive communication style is a way of expressing oneself that involves avoiding conflict, expressing feelings indirectly, and prioritizing the needs of others over one’s own. People with a passive communication style tend to avoid expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They often appear shy, timid, and unassertive. They may have difficulty speaking up and asserting themselves in the workplace.
Traits of Passive Communication Style:
- Avoidant and indirect
- Unassertive and hesitant
- Sensitive to criticism
- Passive and submissive
- Often puts the needs of others before their own
Examples of Passive Communication Style:
- “I don’t want to cause any trouble.”
- “It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
- “I don’t really have an opinion.”
- “I’m sorry, it was my fault.”
A passive communication style is often not effective in the workplace. It can lead to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled potential. People with this communication style often struggle to communicate their needs and assert themselves, which can result in a lack of respect from others.
Aggressive Communication Style
The aggressive communication style is the opposite of the passive communication style. People with an aggressive communication style tend to be forceful, dominant, and unyielding in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They often appear confrontational, intimidating, and disrespectful. They may have difficulty listening to others and considering their perspectives.
Traits of Aggressive Communication Style:
- Confrontational and intimidating
- Domineering and forceful
- Disrespectful of others
- Unwilling to compromise
- Often puts their needs before others
Examples of Aggressive Communication Style:
- “This is the way it’s going to be, and that’s final.”
- “You’re wrong, and I’m right.”
- “Don’t waste my time with your nonsense.”
- “I’m in charge here, and you’ll do what I say.”
An aggressive communication style is not effective in the workplace. It can lead to conflicts, tension, and a lack of cooperation. People with this communication style often struggle to build positive relationships with their colleagues and may have difficulty achieving their goals.
Passive-Aggressive Communication Style
The passive-aggressive communication style combines the traits of passive and aggressive communication styles. People with a passive-aggressive communication style tend to express their thoughts, feelings, and opinions indirectly, often through sarcasm, veiled insults, or subtle manipulation. They may appear polite and cooperative on the surface, but their underlying resentment and anger can undermine their relationships and effectiveness in the workplace.
Traits of Passive-Aggressive Communication Style:
- Indirect and ambiguous
- Sarcasm and veiled insults
- Subtle manipulation
- Resentment and anger
- Often sends mixed messages
Examples of Passive-Aggressive Communication Style:
- “Oh sure, I’ll get right on that…whenever I have the time.”
- “I guess I’m just not as smart as you, since you clearly have all the answers.”
- “It’s fine, I’ll just do it myself…again.”
- “I didn’t want to say anything, but since you asked, your idea is terrible.”
A passive-aggressive communication style is not effective in the workplace. It can lead to confusion, mistrust, and a lack of accountability. People with this communication style often struggle to communicate their needs and frustrations healthily and productively.
A Final Note About Communication Styles in the Workplace
It’s important to note that individuals may exhibit different communication styles in the workplace in different situations or with different people. A person may be assertive with their colleagues but passive with their boss, or aggressive with their subordinates but passive with their peers.
Transforming Communication Styles in the Workplace: How Arden Coaching Can Help
Understanding the different communication styles in the workplace is essential for effective communication and positive relationships in the workplace. The assertive communication style is the most effective and appropriate communication style, while passive, aggressive, and passive-aggressive communication styles in the workplace can lead to negative outcomes.
At Arden Coaching, we help teams and individuals develop their communication skills and become more confident, direct, and honest in expressing their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Contact us today to learn more about our coaching programs and how they can benefit you and your organization.