Communication Styles and Mental Health

Passive Communication
Passive people often don’t communicate verbally. They tend to bottle up their emotions instead of expressing them, perhaps out of fear of hurting others or making them uncomfortable, or maybe because they don’t believe their feelings or opinions matter as much as those of others. People with a passive communication style usually fear confrontation and believe that voicing their opinions, beliefs, or emotions will cause conflict. Their goal is usually to keep the peace and not rock the boat, so they sit back and say little.

Aggressive Communication
Aggressive communicators attempt to control others. They’re concerned with getting their own way, regardless of the cost to others. Aggressive people are direct, but in a forceful, demanding, and perhaps even vicious way. They tend to leave others feeling resentful, hurt, and afraid. They might get what they want, but it’s usually at the expense of others, and sometimes at their own expense, as they may later feel guilty, regretful, or ashamed because of how they behaved.

Passive-Aggressive Communication
Like passive communicators, those who have a passive-aggressive style fear confrontation and don’t express themselves directly. However, because of their aggressive tendencies, their goal is to get their way, but they tend to use indirect techniques that more subtly express their emotions, such as sarcasm, the silent treatment, or saying they’ll do something for others but then “forgetting.”

Assertive Communication
Assertive people express their wishes, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in a direct and honest way that’s respectful both of themselves and of others. They attempt to get their own needs met but also try to meet the needs of others as much as possible. They listen and negotiate, so others often choose to cooperate with them because they’re also getting something out of the interaction. Others tend to respect and value assertive communicators because this communication style makes them feel respected and valued.

Sources: DBT Made Simple

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