Communication styles: effects of the various styles

by Danique Geskus | Mar 19, 2024

Communication is a fundamental aspect of human interaction. It allows us to communicate ideas, feelings and information to others. But what is often overlooked is that the way we communicate can strengthen or weaken our message. That’s where communication style comes in. It’s not just what we say, but how we say it that can make the difference between a successful exchange and a misunderstanding.


What is a communication style?

A communication style refers to the way we express our thoughts, feelings and ideas to others. It includes not only the words we choose, but also our tone, body language and even the environment in which the communication takes place. Our communication style is influenced by a variety of factors, including our personality, culture, upbringing and experiences.


The 4 different communication styles

There are different communication styles, each with its own characteristics and effects on the recipient. The most common communication styles incl. effects are:

1. Assertive communication

Assertive communicators can express their needs and boundaries in an honest, respectful way. They are able to stand up for themselves without dominating or hurting others. This form of communication promotes respect, openness and mutual understanding. It encourages healthy boundaries and encourages constructive dialogue.


2. Passive communication

Individuals with a passive communication style often avoid confrontation and do not express their needs clearly. They can appear submissive and have difficulty standing up for themselves. This type of communication can lead to misunderstanding and frustration because the person’s needs are not clearly communicated. This can lead to suppressed feelings and a lack of assertiveness.


3. Aggressive communication

At the other end of the spectrum are those with an aggressive communication style. They are often dominant, coercive and try to impose their will on others without regard to their feelings. This can intimidate others and damage their self-confidence. It can lead to conflict and lack of cooperation.


4. Passive-aggressive communication

This style combines elements of both passive and aggressive communication. People who communicate passive-aggressively often express their dissatisfaction in indirect ways, such as sarcasm or subtle defiance. This can lead to confusion and mistrust because the person’s true feelings are hidden behind indirect expressions of displeasure.


HR’s role in ensuring the appropriate communication style

HR departments play a crucial role in promoting effective communication within organizations. This includes creating a culture where openness and respect are encouraged, as well as providing training and support to help employees develop their communication skills. HR professionals can also mediate conflict and foster an environment where diverse communication styles are valued and understood.


Achieve an assertive communication style with Learned

Learned can go a long way in creating assertive communication within your organization. At Learned, we realize the transition from gut feeling to data-driven performance management. In doing so, we ensure that organizations can get the most out of their employees’ talent. Also, negative employee experiences come to light much faster and you can address them in time. This prevents turnover and promotes a culture where transparency and continuous dialogue are key. Would you also like to gain insight into the engagement of your employees? Download here our MTO questionnaire with 90 questions to measure employee engagement or create a free trial account to experience the effect of assertive communication within your organization.

Learned UI showing how a Marketing manager was assessed by three people on different skills



1. Can a person have multiple communication styles?

Yes, it is possible for a person to exhibit different communication styles depending on the situation or the person they are communicating with.


2. Is one communication style better than the other?

Not necessarily. Each communication style has its own advantages and disadvantages and may be appropriate in different situations. However, pursuing an assertive communication style is generally considered most effective in promoting healthy relationships and cooperation.


3. How can I improve my communication style?

Through awareness, practice and if necessary, professional guidance. It is important to reflect on your own communication patterns, receive feedback from others and actively work on developing assertive communication skills.

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