Communication is one of the most important aspects of any relationship. Without communication, you will have many unnecessary misunderstandings. However, not all communication is healthy. There are right and wrong ways to communicate, and if you are communicating in the wrong way you will add to the misunderstanding and possibly cause harm and damage to the other person.
Communication is the great revealer of the soul (mind, will and emotions). What is going on inside you is going to come out in your style of communicating to others. And more importantly, the level of worth and value that you hold for yourself will determine your style of communication. If you hold a high level of value for yourself, meaning you respect and love yourself, you will be more able to communicate in a healthy manner that also values others. If you do not value or appreciate who you are, how can you value and appreciate others for who they are? So the first question to ask yourself in learning how to demonstrate healthy communication is “Do I love and value who I am as an individual?”. If the answer is yes, then you are ready to grow in relating to others. If the answer is no, then learning to accept and love yourself for who you are is the first place to start. (Keep a lookout for the next blog post on this topic!)
Passive communicators devalue themselves to the point that they act like everything is fine and like they have no needs of their own. They are a doormat for others to take advantage of and manipulate to get what they want. Passive communicators are ultimately afraid of confrontation and will stuff and repress all their emotions and feelings to keep the peace and others happy. They would rather suffer and endure inner turmoil then tell the truth of what they’re feeling inside. They would rather avoid communication altogether then put themselves out there and face the discomfort they feel. Passive communicators have shallow relationships because they’re not willing to have a mutually honest relationship that expresses personal needs and desires. They struggle with resentment, anger and abandonment because their needs are not being met.
Aggressive communicators are the ones who dominate the conversation. They are often loud and forthright to the point of bullying others to get their way. Aggressive communicators operate in intimidation and controlling tactics to ensure they are heard. Others feel bulldozed by them because they are not given the chance to be equally heard and understood. If the aggressive communicator does not get what he wants he will trample over the feelings of others until he does. Aggressive communicators struggle with fear that has turned to control and selfishness.
The passive aggressive communicator may be difficult to detect in the beginning because they have two sides to them. To your face they may at times appear kind, loving, understanding and giving and behind your back they are contradicting, vindictive and gossipers. They are the kind that behind closed doors you see something different then in public. Passive aggressive communicators are not forthright in communication, so they get their message across in manipulative, round about ways that leave others feeling confused and controlled. Their communication style can be the deadliest because of it’s secretive manner. Confrontation is difficult with this kind of person because of the denial and blame they live in. Passive aggressive communicators struggle with fears of loss of control and rejection.
Assertive communication is the goal for healthy relationships. The assertive communicator has a strong sense of identity and equally values themselves and others. Assertive communicators know boundaries and how to put them in place. They are self respecting and they communicate to others respectfully. They are self-aware and have an understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, emotions and needs and they are able to express them honestly and openly. They are unafraid to let the other person share just as openly and honestly and they expect that kind of reciprocity in the relationship. Assertive communicators do not let other people define how they feel about themselves. If conversation becomes disrespectful they refuse to engage until it becomes respectful. If a passive or passive-aggressive communicator is not being honest, they refuse to take responsibility for them. Ultimately, assertive communicators are confident in who they are and appreciative of who others are.
Take some time to reflect and evaluate your communication style. If you’re having a hard time identifying it, pay attention to your conversations with people over the next week. Each day write down the types of conversations you had, how they went, and how you felt during and after. You first must be willing to take an honest look at your interactions in order to bring positive change. If you are having a hard time knowing how to develop into an assertive communicator, talk to someone you know who is already one. Learn from those you want to be like. Change is always possible as long as you are willing to seek it out.
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