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  • Writer's pictureKennedy McLean

What is Your Primary Communication Style?

There are 4 major styles of communication- assertive, aggressive, passive, and passive-aggressive. It can be helpful to identify your primary style of communicating to make adjustments needed to improve your relationships with others.

Assertive Communication

The Assertive Communication Style is considered to be the most balanced style of communication that is appropriate for many situations we find ourselves in. A person who communicates assertively is likely to be clear, direct, and honest about thoughts and emotions while ensuring that feelings are expressed appropriately. Assertive people look out for themselves and stand up for their rights but are also sensitive to the rights of others. Assertive communicators are often calm, and their demeanour reflects the confidence that they can communicate in whatever situation they may encounter. Assertive communication requires the most work and the best communication skills. Those who communicate assertively tend to be comfortable with the idea that both parties in a discussion can have differing but valid opinions and can compromise.

Aggressive Communication

Those with an Aggressive Communication Style are often clear and direct in expressing thoughts and feelings. However, this can occur in an inappropriate way that may violate the rights of others. People pay attention to the way a message was delivered rather than what was said. This style of communication is not always effective as the message can get lost in the delivery. Those with an aggressive communication style may be very attached to their beliefs or needing to be right regardless of the consequences.

Passive Communication

Individuals with a primarily Passive Communication Style typically do not communicate their thoughts or feelings openly or honestly. They may have difficulty realizing or expressing personal wishes, opinions and desires and may express opinions in such a way that they are disregarded by others. People with passive communication styles typically do not stand up for themselves. They do not get their needs met and are more likely to be taken advantage of or have their rights violated by others. Those with passive communication styles often struggle to express negative emotions may deny that they're upset. This may lead to building frustration that manifests itself in stress, physical symptoms, and illness. Those with a passive communication style are typically more focused on others and may struggle to identify their own needs.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

Those who communicate in a Passive-Aggressive Style tend to express their thoughts and feelings in a way that is unclear or confusing. These individuals may at first appear to be passive but later act out of anger, usually in an indirect manner. Individuals who communicate in a passive-aggressive way may feel stuck, powerless, resentful of their current circumstances, and may be unable to address these circumstances directly. Instead, they may seek to undermine the source of their resentment with subtle expressions of anger. Passive-aggressive behaviour may be generally characterized by outward cooperation and internal frustration and resentment. This style of communication is ineffective and results in conflictual relationships.

Can you see yourself in one of the above? Is the way you communicate contributing to conflict in your personal or professional life? It is never too late to learn how to communicate effectively. Talking with a trained psychotherapist can help you identify what you are actually feeling and learn to express those feelings in a way that allows you to ask for what you need.

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About Kennedy

Kennedy has been working in the field of addiction and mental health for 10 years. She currently runs a virtual private practice treating clients throughout Ontario.   

Kennedy's practice currently focuses on trauma, attachment, couples therapy. Associate therapists work with people of all ages experiencing a wide range of concerns such as stress, depression, anxiety, relationship distress, and grief for example.

Anything written in blog posts are the thoughts of Kennedy. They are intended to offer information that may be interesting or useful for contemplation.


Nothing written is intended to be a substitute for seeking professional help.

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