The style in which you express yourself is vital in making or breaking your image among others. Learn about different styles of communication and tune your style to perfection.

Communication Styles

Don’t you love making good impressions? Everyone does! Man, being a social animal, cannot survive in solitude and since getting along with others is highly dependent on your communication style, knowing more about this concept can do you a world of good. We all know that communication is not just verbal—it includes gestures, body language, facial expressions too. Although everybody’s style of communication is unique, some characteristics can be taken together to form a certain identifiable style. Knowing these styles can help you identify your weak points so that you can become a good team player and maintain healthy relationships. People cannot read minds and hence evaluate others on the basis of what they say rather than what they think. And though everyone likes companionship, communicating doesn’t come equally easily to all. Don’t let this drawback affect your social life—take matters in your hand. Read further to know the various communication styles and see which one suits you the best.
Types Of Communication
According to Christopher Heffner, the basic communication styles are:
Assertive Communication
  • This style stands for self assertion while, at the same time, respect and consideration for others and capability of handling situations effectively.
  • The main features of assertive communication are positive attitude, active listening, strong observation, consideration for others, self-awareness, confidence, openness, flexibility, versatility, sense of humour and decisiveness.
  • Non-verbal cues, when combined with natural gestures and expressive voice modulation, are very important in assertive communication. Maintaining direct eye contact and confident or relaxed postures are chief features of this style.
  • This is the style that leaders, managers and sales personnel should strive for as it entails increased self-esteem, self-confidence, respect from others etc.
Passive communication
  • Passive communication is characterized by minimized self-worth and a feeling of being inferior to others. People with this type of communication style tend to hide their true feelings. For example, they agree to others even when they actually disagree with them because they are hesitant to speak up.
  • Non-verbal cues of passive communication include fidgetiness, nodding head as a sign of agreement despite the obvious dislike to the cause, pleading, indifferent facial expression, downcast eyes and slumped posture.
  • Passive communicators typically avoid, ignore or postpone problems and may even leave them unresolved. They prefer to withdraw from problematic situations and often appear sullen and silent. 
  • Passive communicators are usually not aware of their position and worth. They gradually lose self-esteem and are often disrespected and pitied by others. They are also prone to depression and other stress related conditions. 
Aggressive communication
  • Aggressive communication is characterized by an authoritative style of communication.
  • It comes with a monopolizing attitude and an aggressive communicator often interrupts the other person and establishes authority without bothering about the other person's viewpoint.
  • This type demonstrates powerful behavior which is often irritating as it revolves around an unreasonably bossy attitude. The communication is fast and clipped.
  • Nonverbal cues typically include pointing and shaking fingers, frowning and glaring at others. It also entails rigid posture along with a critical and loud tone of voice.
  • This style is most preferred in military and other armed forces and is, in fact, the only style that can work under those conditions. Even economies/companies that are task oriented, rather than people oriented, tend to follow this style.
  • This style is not regarded as ideal in all conditions as it provokes counter aggression leading to friction, alienation and weakened relationships.
Passive-Assertive Communication
Though not given in Christopher Heffner’s classification, there is another style of communication identified by psychologists. It is a combination of Passive and Aggressive style. The main characteristics of people with this style of communication are:
  • They behave like passive people while, in fact, they belong to the assertive type.
  • They often mutter to themselves rather than confronting others because they are afraid of the consequences of expressing anger.
  • Confrontations, when occur, are generally passive and sarcasm is often used.
  • One cannot rely on their facial expressions. They may even smile when angry. They appear cooperative but in actual sense they are generally not.
  • A large number of people in the world can be traced to this style. 
Other Classification
There is another classification of communication-styles in which people are classified into four different categories according to certain characteristics. 


  • They often seem exited and are typically skillful in selling ideas.
  • They are concerned with proper utilization of time and hate wasting time in seeking/giving explanations.
  • They like being recognized and always improve with proper recognition. They value applause and feedback.
  • They should be inspired constantly to extract the maximum results.
  • Such people make great fortunes in sales and businesses, in general.
  • They are generally decisive people with strong opinions and often like doing things their way.
  • Being goal oriented, they value time and want to get things done efficiently without compromising on it. 
  • They are result oriented and take control proactively. They like to do things by themselves and hate interferences of any sort.  
  • They should be allowed to get into complex and competitive situations to express themselves. If allowed to do things in their way, they come up with best results.
  • Such people usually do well in arts and people management. 
  • These people are generally a bit passive and need support and attention.
  • Rejection, impersonal treatment and/or uncaring attitudes upset them.
  • They tend to withdraw from problematic situations and become silent and introspective in such circumstances.
  • They need support and care always and should be allowed to relax. They should be provided with detailed plans to achieve a goal.
  • They value friendships and relationships. They are very emotional and prone to depression. 
  • People under this type are inquisitive and usually behave systematically.
  • They always come up with technical or analytical questions like “how” and do not like making errors.
  • They always seek information and like making decisions for themselves.
  • They hate making errors because they are very much concerned about their image. They make good detectives, scientists and teachers.
These are the different styles of communication, generally found among people. Identify your style, rectify your weakness and watch the difference!

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