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4 Different Communication Styles in Remote Work

Posted by Diana May | August 25, 2020

Identifying and managing different communication styles

It’s common knowledge that not everyone communicates the same way. There are benefits to having a variety of communication styles, but there can also be negatives. If you’re struggling with a coworker or boss that has a different communication style than you, knowing and understanding what they respond well to will help you improve that workplace relationship. Having strong communication is necessary to a healthy work environment. If you feel like you’re struggling to figure out someone you’re interacting with, keep reading to figure out which communication style you and your coworkers have, and how you can learn to better tailor your communication for one another.

Why Communicate?

With the continuation of remote work, communication has become absolutely necessary. In order for remote work to be successful, teams need to learn how to communicate based on the personality of the people in the company. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, people respond positively and negatively to different styles of communication. If you don’t know what type of communication styles you’re dealing with, learn about these 4 basic ones and how you can identify communication styles from now on. There’s no such thing as over communication at a time like this, so it’s time to learn what different communication styles you will deal with now or in the future.

4 Different Communication Styles:

  1. Passive communication
  2. Aggressive communication
  3. Passive-aggressive communication
  4. Assertive communication

Strengths and Weaknesses to Each Style

Passive Communication

Passive communicators struggle with expressing themselves. They hope to avoid conflict at all times but they nonetheless hold tight to their convictions. Signs of a passive communicator is: silence in conflict, someone who makes a statement and immediately changes it based on the reactions of others.

The best way to manage someone that is passive is to communicate with them one-on-one. They will not be honest with you about their feelings in a group setting so give them a chance to email you or to talk only with you. Make them feel safe in your work environment. 

Strengths:

  • Not overbearing to the opinions of others.
  • Allows others to express themselves.
  • Is kind and thoughtful in communication approach.

Weaknesses:

  • Fear of communicating in a group.
  • At times, cannot adequately express professional opinion.
  • Handles situations sensitively. 

Aggressive Communication

On the other side of the spectrum are the aggressive communicators. These are the coworkers that have no problem calling you out in a meeting or voicing their opinion without being asked. There is value in being more aggressive than passive, but it is not the ideal communication style. If you likely dread communicating with someone, they are more likely than not an aggressive communicator. 

Dealing with an aggressive communicator can be difficult, but if you establish and enforce boundaries with them, they are more likely to respect you and follow your boundaries. Give them the ability to vent (because everyone needs that nowadays) without them directing it at you. 

Strengths:

  • Decisive.
  • Straight to the point.

Weaknesses: 

  • Not as tolerant of others.
  • Sometimes expresses opinion without being asked.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

Passive-aggressive communicators are not as straightforward as aggressive communicators, but rather they find ways to hint at their displeasure with others. They often are nice to some and less friendly to others. Like passive communicators, passive-aggressive people will likely avoid any workplace conflict when they can help it and if they have conflict they will vent to someone they’re close to instead of handling the issue head-on.

When you’ve identified someone that is a passive-aggressive communicator, you need to keep your cool with them. Because they avoid conflict, they try to get others to express their anger or frustration for them. Another habit you should form with a passive-aggressive person is to redirect their frustration to the real problem and encourage them to be more assertive about what is bothering them with the person they are bothered about.

Strengths:

  • Allows others to voice their opinions.
  • Will voice opinion if absolutely necessary.

Weaknesses:

  • Passive at the wrong time
  • Overly aggressive at inappropriate times.
  • Starting workplace gossip.

Assertive Communication

Now that we’ve seen the problems associated with being passive, passive-aggressive, and aggressive, let’s take a look at an ideal communication style: assertive. An assertive communicator addresses problems directly and expresses themselves and their boundaries while maintaining respect for others.

This is the most ideal form of communication in any setting, but especially the workplace. Signs you’re dealing with an assertive communicator is if they address an issue that bothers them immediately, if they actively listen to others and address their problems in a constructive way, and if they are clear and direct about their expectations.

Strengths:

  • Clear and confident.
  • Listens to others.
  • Immediately handles uncomfortable situations.

Weaknesses:

  • At times, they try too hard to quickly fix a situation.

Communication with Hybrid Teams

Having some workers function remotely while others are holding down the office fort can make communication extra challenging. But having a hybrid team is the precise reason why you should learn about the four most common communication styles and then identify which members of your team have these styles. It can seem like a daunting task, but if you take it one person at a time, you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn about your coworkers and employees. 

Which communication style best describes you?

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