Communication Styles & Strategies

July 13th, 2011

In the Bible we read “And first there was the word”. After reading that often I think, “Then everything got really tricky!”

There are different ways of communicating which most of us are familiar with. There are probably others on the continuum, but the four basics modes of communication are: passive, assertive, passive-aggressive and aggressive. We are all working towards becoming assertive. I hear from a majority of my female clients that they struggle with being too passive. They are in fear of being assertive because they feel their assertions may come off as aggressive or as an attack on the other person. They don’t want to ruffle feathers, be unlikable or goodness forbid, plain old mean! However, if we don’t express our truth we become resentful and often passive-aggressive or even outright aggressive.

When I write the words “express your truth”, I don’t mean always mean verbally. We can honor our truth by, for example, not going out with him anymore, not buying from that vendor, not power struggling or deciding to turn our challenges with another person over to Spirit.  When I was five, I had a neighbor playmate that I experienced as bossy and mean. One day she said to me “I think you and the other kids don’t like me because I am a Jehovah’s Witness.” I didn’t know what a Jehovah’s Witness was, so I clarified for her, “No we don’t like you because you are mean and bossy.” She never played with me again and I knew I had really hurt her feelings. It would have better to deliver my truth with kindness, while owning it (starting with “I feel”) or even just accept her, assert boundaries and move on. Of course, that is a big bill for a five year old, but sometimes it is just as challenging for a 41 year old!

Communication Video

Sometimes clients will reiterate conversations or send me emails of the communication they have had with the person in question. Almost always, my clients speak or send their assertions with loving kindness. Funny thing is, even though they have spoken or written with love, they nearly always second guess their communication and want to retract what they’ve said or written. This is especially true if the person responded to their assertiveness with aggression or passive aggression.

Perhaps the best way we can learn to be assertive is to practice when we aren’t engaging in challenging communications. Look around for others who speak assertively with kindness and respect. Can you take something away from witnessing their talent (it really is a talent!)?

If we don’t learn how to communicate with others the price is high. We become aggressive and find ourselves attacking and therefore alienating others. Another possibility is that we become passive-aggressive. We make snide remarks, we gossip, and perhaps worse, become bitter. In another words, we become people we don’t want to be. Honor your truth with love and compassion. The price is too high not to.

(c) 2007 Jeanine Austin, Ph.D., C.Ht.

Doctor of Life Coaching, Certified Hypnotherapist

Simply Divine Solutions

Life Coaching and Hypnosis Worldwide

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