I have often heard it said that poor communication is the number one issue facing couples. After having many counseling sessions with couples, I agree with that statement. And that is because almost every relational challenge couples face can be traced back either directly or indirectly to the individual communication style of each partner and the ways in which it impacts their collective communication patterns.
The three most common communication styles are passive, aggressive, and assertive. One’s communication style is based on many factors, including but not limited to family of origin and whether open communication and sharing one’s feelings was encouraged or discouraged, punished or praised.
In the passive style, the person does not honestly share their thoughts, feelings, preferences or desires. That does not mean they don’t have them; they are just unable or unwilling to share them. The passive communicator will often expect their partner to know what they want and act accordingly without having been informed. They will also become angry and/or withdrawn when their unspoken needs are not met.
The aggressive communicator places blame without accepting responsibility, makes accusations, becomes defensive, and attempts to control the conversation. The aggressive communicator will interrupt, make long tangential statements or do whatever it takes to maintain focus of the conversation on wrongs, real or imagined, committed by their partner.
The assertive communicator is clear and direct in letting their partner know their wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. They are respectful, do not become defensive, and don’t seek to control the conversation. What they seek most of all is a resolution and are willing to compromise.
Whatever the communication style of yourself or your partner, the best thing to bring to a conversation is your ability to actively listen to your partner. Active listening means that you pay close attention to what is being said without deciding whether you agree or disagree and without planning your response. Click on the link below for an Active Listening Action Plan.