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Effective Communication Styles At Work: Which One Should You Pick?

It can be challenging to know the best communication style for different situations. In this blog, we will explore the different effective styles of communication and how you can use them to boost your relationships at work. We will also provide tips on how to pick the right communication style for the situation at hand.

What is a communication style?

A communication style is a way a person expresses ideas, feelings, and needs. When trying to choose a style, it’s essential to consider your personality and the situation you’re in. For example, assertive individuals take charge of situations and make decisions. Passive individuals avoid conflict and instead try to please others. Active individuals take action toward their goals. And collaborative individuals work together to come up with solutions to problems.

Each of these styles has its benefits and drawbacks, but the best style of communication for any situation is comfortable and practical for the individual. Therefore, understanding your style of communicating is important to tailor your interactions with others better.

What are the common communication styles at work?

Assertive communication style

Assertive communication is the most effective option for managers at work. It involves setting clear boundaries and stating your expectations plainly. People who use this style can stay calm and communicate effectively. People who use an aggressive style may become emotional and unable to resolve the issue. By choosing the assertive communication, you can avoid conflicts or difficult situations and get your point of view across clearly and concisely.

Assertive communication style example:

A person adopting the assertive communication style at work might use statements like the one below. It highlights their requirement, and they are confident while setting them. Nonetheless, they do not impose a choice on the other person in an aggressive manner.

“I need more time to discuss this issue. Can we schedule a meeting for next week?”

When to use assertive communication style?

The assertive communication style is adequate for situations where the individual needs to set clear boundaries and communicate their expectations. You can use this style in various workplace settings, such as when there is a disagreement or when one party feels like they are not being heard. In addition, it is an excellent style for managers as it clarifies their ideas for the team.

Tips for using an assertive communication style:

  • Be clear and concise when setting boundaries.
  • State your expectations clearly.
  • Stay calm during the communication process.
  • Make sure that you do not come across as dominating.

Aggressive communication style

Aggressive communication is characterized by language and behaviors that advocates for personal needs, sometimes even at the sacrifice of those of others. People who use this style are often confident and in control. However, they tend to be direct and opinionated, and may appear forceful or confrontational. This style of communication can be effective constructively but can lead to conflict if misused. Instead of being aggressive or hostile, competent aggressive communicators are assertive and direct in their communication ways.

Aggressive communication style example: 

You might find a person using aggressive style statements like the one shown below. As we noted, it carries authority and is confrontational too. But, such a tone can hurt the team dynamics, too, if it is coupled with arrogance.

“Why didn’t you tell me that the project would be delayed?”

When to use assertive communication style?

The assertive communication style is effective in situations where the individual needs clarity and a way forward. This style can also be effective when used in a constructive way to guide or lead operations. In situations where the manager needs to take charge entirely, such as unanticipated challenges or tight deadlines, it can be an excellent method to provide direction.

Tips for using the aggressive communication style:

  • Stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Avoid coming across as aggressive or confrontational.
  • Be empathetic to the feelings of others too.

Passive communication style

Passive communication is characterized by a lack of assertiveness and a decreased need to react to provoking situations. Individuals who adopt this style might rely on others to communicate their needs and desires rather than directly speaking out themselves. This type of communication can lead to problems because it can be difficult for people to understand each other or resolve conflicts. Passive styles are often used when there is a power imbalance between the parties involved, such as when one party is dominant or when the parties are from different cultural backgrounds, due to which people avoid expressing themselves.

Passive communications style example: 

The below statement from a passive communicator shows hesitation and avoidance, which are characteristic features. They are also unwilling to take the lead on this project and would rather have another person do it to avoid the spotlight.

“I wasn’t sure if you were still interested in doing the project.”

When is the passive communication style used?

The passive style is typically used when the speaker needs time to think about what to say or when unsure of the best way to communicate their message. This style is often used when the speaker is uncomfortable or uncertain of themselves, and they hope that the other person will take the lead and communicate more directly. 

Tips for using the passive communication style:

  • Be clear about your objectives and expectations from the outset. It will help to avoid misunderstandings and unnecessary conflict.
  • Try to be understanding and responsive to others.
  • Hold on to your boundaries and values.

Passive-Aggressive communication style

Passive-aggressive communication is characterized by indirect and ambiguous communication. It can be challenging to determine whether or not someone is using this style of communication. Passive-aggressive individuals often use sarcasm, understatement, and nonverbal communication to disguise their true intentions.

As a result, it can be challenging to respond in a constructive manner. The best way to deal with a passive-aggressive person is to be patient and understanding. Instead of getting frustrated and responding assertively, try to understand the passive-aggressive behavior and use your skills to communicate clearly and effectively with the person.

Passive-aggressive communication style example:

Jane says to John, “I wasn’t sure if you were still interested in doing the project.” This passive-aggressive style likely means that Jane is not confident about her ability to communicate with John and is hoping that he will take the lead. If John responds aggressively, Jane may feel threatened or defensive.

When is the passive-aggressive communication style used?

The passive-aggressive communication style is often used when someone doesn’t feel confident or safe around others. Passive-aggressive individuals may use indirect communication to sabotage relationships, withhold information, and avoid confrontation. Hence, managers use to make good use of their communication skills to prevent a mishap. However, it can be a viable approach when conveying things indirectly.

Tips for using the passive-aggressive communication style:

  • Try to understand passive-aggressive behavior.
  • Remain patient and firm to scoot around confrontation.
  • Set boundaries and make your points clear.

Conclusion

In essence, styles of communication at work are a way of saying what you want to say clearly and assertively while listening to what others have to say and responding in a clear, calm, and empathetic manner. While methods of communication vary across individuals and situations, the most important thing is that you communicate effectively. If you want to improve communication skills at work, try practicing assertive communication techniques like listening and asking questions more.

Try changing your body language (sitting or standing) and facial expression when communicating with others, and practice self-awareness by asking yourself if the way you share is effective. If you’re looking for more guidance on effective communication styles, we’ve written a comprehensive guide on communication skills that might help!

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