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Note 2: Different styles of communication

Hello and welcome to note 2 of 12. In the last note, we spoke about why learning about communication can be useful.

In this note we will look at three different styles of communicating:

  1. Passive
  2. Aggressive
  3. Passive Aggressive


A passive style is when a person prefers to avoid conflicts at all costs. This is done by:

  • giving in to unreasonable demands
  • going along with the thoughts and actions of a group of people
  • not offering their opinion
  • rarely criticising or giving negative feedback


The aggressive style is the opposite of the passive style. It is when a person tries to get other people to agree to what they want or demand. The interesting thing is that aggressive people don’t feel that dominant, even if they come across that way. This style of behaviour is usually ineffective in the long run but has some short term advantages for the person:

  • intimidating people into doing what they want
  • if others fear them then those people will make fewer demands
  • sometimes they feel like they’re just blowing off steam and therefore they will feel better afterwards (even though research suggests this only makes them more aggressive if done frequently)


Yes, it’s a combination of the two other styles. The anger from the aggressive style means that a person wants to really understand others but is unable to, and the fear from the passive style holds them back from communicating this directly. Here are some examples of passive-aggressive behaviour:

  • Undermining a co-worker by bad-mouthing them to the other colleagues
  • “Accidentally” dropping something on the floor and causing unnecessary disruption
  • Routinely showing up late to appointments therefore not respecting others’ time
  • Doing chores so badly that others take over so that it gets done, which makes them not accountable for their responsibilities

Remember: Different styles have different characteristics, and people can use different ones at different times.

Action: Think about whether you use any of the styles above. Which one do you use or lean towards the most?

In the next note, we will look at another style: assertive communication.

And don’t forget: You are valuable. You are powerful. You can do this!

Your friends at Soul Medicine

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