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  • Writer's pictureAsia Hardin

How Communication Styles Affect Relationship Boundaries

Communication style varies from person-to-person within four basic categories: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.

Our communication style is not just about the words we use, but also the facial expressions and body language that impact the quality of our relationships.

Passive Communication

A person who communicates in a passive style often fails at expressing their own needs. Passive communicators are quick to avoid confrontation and exhibit poor eye contact and body posture during conversation. When it comes to the boundaries, they tend to neglect their own needs to accommodate others.

Aggressive Communication

People who use aggressive communication tend to be demanding, defensive, or even hostile. Aggressive communicators do not take other people’s feelings or needs into consideration. They can also speak in a loud, demanding voice and try to dominate conversation. For the aggressive communicator, only their own boundaries matter.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

On the surface, passive-aggressive communicators appear passive but are actually hiding their true feelings and intentions. Since they aren’t able to fully communicate their needs, they can easily become frustrated, irritable and resentful. This type of communication can confuse others because they are presenting as indifferent, yet are actually angry. For passive-aggressive communicators their boundaries matter, but they aren’t able to voice them, which leads to them degrading others’ boundaries.

Assertive Communication

Lastly, assertive communication is the most effective category. People who communicate in an assertive style tend to be confident, maintain eye contact, keep consistent body language, and have high self-esteem. This type of communicator is able to express their own needs and feelings without coming off as overbearing. This style also leaves room to consider others’ needs. For the assertive communicator, their boundaries matter, but so do yours.

Depending on the circumstances, a person may even shift between different communication methods.

Communication styles can also fluctuate based on the type of communicator you're interacting with.

For instance, the way you communicate with an aggressive family member may contrast greatly with the method of communication you use with a passive co-worker.

In order to effectively communicate, both for yourself and the person you’re conversing with, you need to be able to recognize the other’s needs.

So… What type of communicator are you?

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