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4 Major Workplace Communication Styles: Which Is Effective?

Asloob Alam

Effective Communication is one of the hallmarks of having a successful business. In today's world, with many varying styles and types of Communication, it can be quite hard to distinguish and check which of these are most effective.

 

Oftentimes, businesses don't even know what style of Communication they use in the workplace, as these can grow seemingly unnoticed depending on the culture and the people involved.

 

However, learning the significance of knowing what types and styles of Communication are being used in the workplace can provide a much more convenient, open, and effective team.

 

According to one study, around 97% of all workers agree that Communication plays an important role in their productivity when it comes to everyday tasks, while 28% of employees blame poor and ineffective Communication as a primary reason for not being able to deliver productive results on time.

 

So, if you're looking to improve the overall state of productivity in your company or if you're just looking forward to learning how to effectively communicate with your fellow employees, then learning the four major workplace communication styles can be a significant help when it comes to workplace interaction.

 

In this article, you'll learn about all the different styles of workplace communication as well as the signs and methods to work with these types of communicators. You'll also learn the most effective style and how to incorporate that into your communication habits.

 

All throughout the article, you'll be exposed to some examples of how these styles can be used in real-world workplace scenarios.

What Are Communication Styles?

Each individual has their own distinct style of Communication; coinciding this information with multiple individuals working in a company and having their own unique styles, it can get quite messy. Misinterpretations and misunderstandings can all become a flashpoint for conflict, and conflict between employees, managers, and team leaders is the last thing that most businesses need in an office.

 

These problems can start snowballing into other negative situations such as office toxicity, harassment, and even remote work setups that aren't safe because of cyberbullying.

 

When left unchecked, these conflicts can start to affect productivity and efficiency in an organization, and when that happens, customer satisfaction will start to suffer as well.

 

Prevention is always better than a cure so understanding the common types of communication styles can be a key factor in promoting efficiency, productivity, and just a healthy and positive workplace overall.

The Major Workplace Communication Styles

Primarily, the four major workplace communication styles that are most common are Passive, Aggressive, Passive-Aggressive, and Assertive Communication.

 

Each of these has its own certain characteristics that determine whether or not they are effective in a workplace environment. So far, Assertive Communication is known to be the most effective of the four as it brings out the best of all three and combines them into one.

 

But there's more to it than that. Understanding these four styles can help you understand the reasons why Assertive Communication is the best of all three.

 

So, let's get straight into it.

1 - Passive Communication

The first of the four is passive Communication. This type of communication style can be most common to new employees in a business. However, that doesn't guarantee that it is their preferred style to use. Over time, it can change when employees get more familiar.

 

Passive Communication typically involves being quiet all around and not really seeking much attention to themselves or to providing attention to others. Just seemingly doing their own thing without giving much of a presence.

 

Let's use an e-commerce site that primarily markets Valentine's day lingerie. An employee that works there who's a passive communicator might not be openly contributing ideas to the table. Often this can be problematic, considering that they're a marketing company, but it can also work in their favor.

 

Passive communicators tend to follow or listen to others express their ideas and thoughts. They can be a lot more active in doing what needs to be done or putting things into action. Because of this, they're generally a lot easier to get along with.

 

In our example, the employee can be a lot more productive in doing the actual work as opposed to sitting and being forced to take part in a brainstorming session of what's the next marketing strategy to use.

 

However, passive communicators can also suffer from their own lack of expression. In a workplace environment, this can be especially problematic as resentment with coworkers can build up. Passive communicators generally are unable to say "no" to any tasks they are given.

 

Sadly, this can lead to abuse. Some workers can push themselves to handle extra responsibilities, put in longer hours, and generally exert more effort than they're capable of. This easily wears them out. Basically, interacting with passive communicators can often be a guessing game as to what they're really feeling inside.

How To Distinguish Passive Communicators

There are plenty of ways to distinguish passive communicators if there is one within your workplace. Aside from them being generally quiet, low presence visibility, and lacking the ability to say no, there are other signs that can help you tell as well.

 

  • Passive communicators tend to speak softly.
  • They can sometimes have a poorer posture than most.
  • Avoiding eye contact when speaking.
  • Can be an easy-going person.
  • Tend to be apologetic for most situations.
  • Sometimes showcase a lack of confidence.
  • Does not actively participate in activities.

 

How To Work With Passive Communicators

When it comes to interacting with passive communicators in your workplace, you can apply different methods that can make it easier for the both of you to successfully communicate and have a much more productive and relaxed experience.

 

1st - Directly Engage With Them - You can help passive communicators be much more relaxed with conversations if you deal with them on a personal basis. Starting one-on-one interactions can be much more helpful and comfortable for them as compared to being in a group of other people.

 

2nd - Ask For Their Thoughts - Consider asking them for their thoughts on certain situations. It could be something related to their hobbies, work, or even just something out of the blue. It can help grow a particular sense of assurance for them. However, make sure to allow them to express thoughts freely without having to step in.

 

3rd - Use Open-Ended Questions - Passive communicators tend to keep things short, and this can be problematic if you want to get their thoughts out. Consider questions that need a certain amount of effort to respond to. This can help them share their thoughts and give you enough leeway to strike a better conversation.

 

4th - Give Them Space - Lastly, no need to be so in their face. Sometimes, one of the best ways to boost team morale or connect with individuals is to just leave them to their own work. Time is also an important factor for interaction, so give passive communicators the proper personal space they need to do their work.

 

2 - Aggressive Communication

Totally opposite to passive communicators, aggressive communicators are ones that tend to stand out a lot more in the workplace. They're a lot more vocal about what they think and can easily express their thoughts, oftentimes going so far as to even dominate others' opinions.

 

While it's true that aggressive communicators are more than confident to express their thoughts in a fast-paced environment and more quickly provide a response, it doesn't always guarantee coherence in their ideas.

 

This style of communication can be great when it comes to providing a decisive course of action in stressful situations, and it can also backfire at certain times. Aggressive communicators can bring negative experiences to those that want to take a much calmer approach.

 

For example, say you're in a meeting discussing the options of pricing automation tools for your online store. This matter can be highly influential to the overall result of your business success, not to mention the investment of valuable resources into setting things up to operational.

 

Given this, you'd prefer to take things slow, weigh down the options, and consider the benefits and drawbacks. But, with aggressive communicators, this indecisiveness can prove to be an unnecessary delay, opting for much quicker decision-making and being confrontational on the matter of what they think needs to be done as decisively as possible.

 

It can lead to dissenting opinions being disregarded and on-the-spot decisions that haven't been discussed enough. These can open lead to risky ventures that can ultimately bring in more negative experiences and hostility between employees.

 

The main problem with aggressive communication is that it can bring hostility in a workplace that has no room for such an attitude. When this isn't addressed, it can lead to conflict more so than any other type of communication style.

 

How To Distinguish Aggressive Communicators

If you believe that you have an aggressive communicator within your workplace but aren't so sure yet, then consider some of the following signs below. Aggressive communicators are much easier to notice and spot as they're always dominating the center of attention.

 

  • Aggressive communicators tend to speak over others.
  • They are unfiltered in their use of words.
  • Can often display aggressive gestures.
  • Keeps intense eye contact.
  • They are opportunistic.
  • Can be intimidating to approach.
  • Comes across as close-minded.

 

How To Work With Aggressive Communicators

It can be hard to work with aggressive communicators, and that can already be an understatement. For many, aggressive style can already be something that they tend to avoid, and it is the most common approach for those that are uncomfortable.

 

However, in a workplace environment, this isn't always the case. Luckily, there are still some ways you can improve the experience and retain control. Here are some tips that you can use when communicating with others using this style:

 

1st - Stay On Work Topics - One of the easiest ways to deal with aggressive communicators is to just stick to the topics that you need to discuss with them. Less talk means fewer chances for hostility and confrontation. Stay on work topics and try to remain on that topic until you have what you need. Avoid going deeper into personal issues that can lead to problems.

 

2nd - Keep Cool And Stand Your Ground - Aggressive communicators have the habit of reigning control over conversations. It doesn't matter whether it's a group or one-on-one. They always try to make sure that the conversation goes their way. Try to keep your cool and stay on the path that you've originally chosen. Keep an open mind but stand firm to what you believe is best on a reasonable basis.

 

3rd - Walk Away When Needed - Sometimes things don't go your way, and conflict can just come up out of nowhere. It's these times that you need to know when to cut your losses and just walk away before anything else happens. When you feel that you're backed into a corner, it's the moment that you're no longer making any positive progress on the matter.

 

4th - Keep It Professional - As always, it is a workplace, and things should always remain professional. Provide a professional demeanor to aggressive communicators as this can display a sense of confidence and maturity that can help your overall figure in their eyes. Plus, you'll never go wrong with keeping things professional.

 

3 - Passive-Aggressive Communication

On the other hand, passive-aggressive communication is a mix of the first two styles. However, it can be a much worse version as it incorporates the weaker aspects of passive and aggressive communication styles.

 

Passive-aggressive communicators tend to showcase surface-level passiveness. They're particularly a lot harder to distinguish. Most would look at them as passive-style communicators, but over time, through interactions, cracks will begin to appear.

 

This style usually incorporates the agreeable nature of passiveness, but that is nothing more than just a disguise as their actions can dictate otherwise. They might say that they agree to your face but showcase discontent on the inside.

 

Passive-aggressive communicators tend to be most common in temporary roles in a company, such as contractors. They just want to get the job done as needed by their clients but still need a certain degree of interaction.

 

Let's use an example - Aloa.co is currently in the market to hire software developers for their team. Specifically, they're looking for freelance ReactJS developers. If and when conflicts do arise between their contracts when it comes to solving a specific problem, they're more likely to go with a passive-aggressive style of communication as the issue can only be a temporary problem for them.

 

At the same time, they could argue that they were only following what their clients wanted even though they know that it might not be an ideal approach to achieve results.

 

There are always circumstances in that conflicts can arise, and contractors might just go ahead and agree to the client's wishes but not necessarily agree with them. Sometimes, contractors even do go against what they agreed to when dealing with a specific problem. They just make sure that they don't get caught and they don't cause any problems.

 

Overall, passive-aggressive communicators are experts in manipulating situations under the table to suit their needs. They can take underhanded approaches to resolve a conflict or to achieving their goals.

How To Distinguish Passive-Aggressive Communicators

 

When it comes to distinguishing passive-aggressive communicators, it can become a bit confusing as they paddle around the borders of passiveness while at the same time displaying aggressive tendencies once and a while. However, there are some small signs that can help you figure out passive-aggressive communicators in a workplace.

 

  • They tend to use sarcasm in serious conversations.
  • Muttering when speaking.
  • They can fake their emotions.
  • Keeping quiet on certain conversations that they don't agree with.
  • Can easily be unmotivated on certain tasks.
  • Actively deny their discontent.

 

How To Work With Passive-Aggressive Communicators

When it comes to working with passive-aggressive communicators, you might originally be surprised to encounter one. The thing is, you'll most likely encounter situations where they have originally agreed with you and then did the opposite of what you expected them to do.

 

This can already be a source of potential conflict, and it can be very hard to work with them from there once they've essentially broken the trust in an agreement. Unfortunately, in a workplace environment, sometimes you have to work with anyone you've got. So, here are some tips that can get you going.

 

1. Ask For Real Feedback - It’s always the root that can fix all problems. Asking for genuine feedback can get you a long way when it comes to working with other people, including passive-aggressive communicators. This can ultimately lead to them opening up about their thoughts and can be a great foundation to start genuine productive conversations.

 

2. Be Upfront To Them - If you think that your work is starting to get affected by their behavior, then don’t be afraid to confront them about their actions. Do not condone them when they break agreements and or if they take unclear actions. Be straightforward. If it comes to it, have a superior mediate to make things much smoother.

 

3. Prioritize Clear Instructions - Don’t let any misinterpretation slip by when it comes to interacting with passive-aggressive communicators. Not only will this provide confusion, but it can also be circled around back to you if they do reason out why they’ve done something different from what you originally agreed.

 

4 - Assertive Communication

If the passive-aggressive communication style mixes the worst of the other communication styles, then assertive communication does the entire opposite and gives in the best of both worlds. It displays professionalism and productive communication. Assertive communication style can be the best form to use when it comes to interacting with all the other styles.

 

Assertive communicators have the aggressiveness and decisiveness to face challenges while also taking into account the many different ideas of other workers in a much more respectful manner. They are also great at displaying their thoughts on the reasons why they said "no" to specific ideas. Alongside this, the proper charm and persuasion to convince others.

 

Let's use an example when you're thinking of switching up your agency email designs; there can be divided opinions on the best option to use. Choosing designs can be hard as they’re primarily subjective for person to person.

 

Assertive communicators in this scenario can properly engage with other dissenting opinions and provide appropriate reasoning that can reign in discontent without being overly aggressive.

 

At the same time, assertive communicators aren't shy to consider and listen to the opinions of others. They can be great at offering compromises that can see everyone agree on a decision.


Assertive communicators practice the best methods that manage teams of different people. They make others comfortable with engagement and interaction, and they also find it easy to have meaningful conversations with almost anyone. Overall, they have the positivity and sharp-thinking capacities that can keep people at their most productive state.

How To Distinguish Assertive Communicators

Assertive communication style is perhaps the most obvious to notice in a workplace environment. They're always the ones that make people feel comfortable and at ease.

 

If you have a coworker that you have just had fun working with even at the most stressful times and can be the one that takes the horn, then they're probably an assertive communicator.

 

There are also other ways that you can know whether a person is an assertive communicator. Watch out for some of these signs.

 

  • They can have expressive gestures.
  • Always out to ask for feedback.
  • Active listeners.
  • They love collaborating with others.
  • Carry a confident and good posture.
  • Offer a clear voice.
  • Open to conversations.
  • Very approachable and friendly.

 

How To Work With Assertive Communicators

Working alongside assertive communicators doesn't tend to be that hard, but they can always use a helping hand to improve. Assertive communicators love to receive valuable feedback, and sharing your thoughts with them can help them make better decisions. You can encourage them to take the lead or have them help along with problematic projects. Ultimately, they can also function great as mediators when it comes to dealing with all the other communication styles.

 

The Most Effective Style? - Assertive Communication

It goes without saying that assertive communication is the most beneficial and productive of all three. If you're looking forward to becoming an assertive communicator yourself, then the best way to start is by improving your communication skills. Communicate with others while at the same time maintaining a healthy amount of self-awareness.

 

Have the confidence to speak your mind while at the same time taking criticism from others. Be logical with your thoughts and run them through your mind before speaking. Practicing active listening is also a must. Always seek to improve.

 

One suggestion that could do well is to listen to yourself speak. You can use call recording softwares with brainstorming sessions or just even general meetings where you can be active, interact with others, and talk.

 

Look through your mannerisms, areas for improvements, and speech patterns to remove or retain. At the same time, if you want to entirely focus on how you look when speaking, try observing your actions in a mirror and practice the facial movements that you want to use.

 

As businesses invest in proper information architecture systems and communication tools like Troop Messenger for their organizations, learning and investing your time in developing your own skills in working with others can be a great tool not only for a workplace environment but also in general life.

 

 

 

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