Each person has their own communication style, which is influenced by a variety of factors regarding their upbringing and environment. These communication differences often strain even the healthiest relationships at times. These communication styles also shape how we manage conflict, and when we don’t understand this, tensions rise.
In order to work through conflict with significant people in your life, it’s key to understand different communication styles and why our loved ones use them. You can also gain some helpful tips just by understanding why your partner communicates and confronts you in a specific manner.
So, here’s what each communication style looks like and how you can help your significant other if they communicate this way.
Deferring to their partner’s wants and needs while theirs go unmet, passive individuals are the quintessential people pleasers. The primary goal of an individual with a passive communication style is conflict avoidance. Allowing others to take the lead, they will say they “don’t care what happens” or that they “go with the flow” to prevent escalation.
By allowing your partner to express anger, reinforcing their significance, and remaining open to assertiveness, you’ll help your passive partner gain confidence and experience growth.
When aggressive communicators feel upset, everyone knows. They use loud and forceful words, and may even appear critical and harsh. Aggressive individuals struggle with accepting responsibility for their actions. Because they often blame others, conflicts with these partners can become overwhelming and impossible to resolve.
If you’re dating an aggressive communicator, encourage them to listen more than speak. Teach them to avoid bullying behavior and model calm, respectful body language when fights break out. If nothing else works and you feel this significant other lacks empathy, suggest counseling or group therapy so that they can work through potential underlying issues with a professional.
Passive-aggressive partners can be the most aggravating of all, as they’re a mixed bag. Like passive people, they avoid direct confrontation. However, they internally resent that their needs aren’t met. This dissatisfaction comes out indirectly with partners, often in the form of eye rolls, sighs, and the silent treatment.
Passive-aggressive partners knows what they want, but they lack the tools to express these needs healthily. Hold your passive-aggressive significant other accountable for their actions. Don’t play along with their victim narrative, and push for clear, assertive communication. Model healthy communication and encourage them to do the same.
Assertive communicators express their needs and wants while remaining open to the needs of their partner. They see both sides of every argument, and often aim for compromise as a resolution. Assertive partners successfully use “I” statements to communicate and empathize. They also validate others while still leaving space for their own feelings.
If you’re dating an assertive communicator, chances are that any conflict struggles actually stem from you. In this case, try to identify which communication style you relate to and talk openly with your partner about helping you work towards assertiveness.
Creating a safe space to air out conflicts is crucial for any relationship. We must ultimately be honest with ourselves and our partners to ensure that we are communicating effectively. If you see a negative pattern in your partner’s communication style or your own, don’t panic. It is certainly possible to change for the better. While we may never be able to decide where to eat dinner with our significant others, we can settle the score on many other issues with effective communication. At least we’ll starve happily?