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Communication Styles in the Workplace: Types & How to Improve it

Examine various communication styles and learn about their importance. We also offer tips on how to become a better communicator and grow in your career.

By 

Synkdup Editorial Team   

|  6 December 2023

Communication Style in the Workplace

Holding up a conversation, speaking out in a business meeting, writing an office email or a letter to an old friend, etc. Whatever it may be, getting the right message across to others in formal or informal day-to-day scenarios is important.

Developing one’s communication abilities is a valuable aspect of personality development. It makes a person’s life a lot easier and, in general, increases their appeal among their peers. People with good social skills tend to be great communicators. This helps make them ‘People Magnets’ owing to the great charisma they exude.

Not everyone communicates the same way, though. It is about a lot more than just what you say! Paraverbal communication also comes into play here. This is something we’ll discuss further in the article, along with other relevant concepts.

Defining Communication

It is a process that involves the exchange and imparting of information. It may be done through various modes like spoken, written, etc. It may be done face-to-face or even digitally, as is very common in modern times.

Understanding Communication Styles

Numerous factors are applicable when categorizing a person’s style of communication. Several reasons contribute to why people’s manner of communicating varies.

This could range from their level of self-confidence in general to how well they know the other person, etc. A person’s way of communicating tells a lot about their personality. It can also help form a great impression in front of others and build a social image.

Different Types Of Communication Styles

As mentioned earlier, everyone is different and, hence, interacts differently with people. Paraverbal communication elements and body language play a crucial role in classifying them. Let us first understand paraverbal communication.

Paraverbal Communication

It has less to do with exactly what is being said and more to do with how the message is being conveyed. It primarily deals with the tone of voice and how one paces their voice when speaking.

As touched upon earlier, it is an important element of communication. Often, people use the right words but fall short on their tone or pacing, leading to miscommunication. Hence, it is important to get both of them right.

Let us discuss different types of communication styles. They are divided into four different classes:

1. Passive Communicators

Those placed here are often shy and quiet. They generally avoid conflict, even when they shouldn’t. This often portrays them as submissive in the eyes of their peers. They tend to be sensitive to embarrassment, making them hesitant to offer their opinions.

Another reason some people may be passive could be their lack of competence in the language. In modern times, owing to globalization, multicultural social environments are becoming more prevalent everywhere.

As a result of this, one can often see people living in countries where they don’t speak the local language. This language barrier may cause them to be more passive while interacting with others.

Passive communicators often avoid eye contact with their peers during conversation. They also struggle to say ‘’no’’ or stand up for themselves in general.

2. Aggressive Communicators

Such communicators tend to crave dominance (often at the expense of their peers!). Sometimes, this can destroy personal relationships in their lives. They also tend to have a reputation for being intimidating.

Common habits of aggressive communicators usually include violating the personal spaces of others. They also tend to maintain strong eye contact and unfairly interrupt others while they speak. At times, they may also act unprofessionally in business settings.

3. Passive-Aggressive Communicators

This category of communicators tends to be a bit more complicated. They appear passive on the surface but have aggressive intentions. This can, at times, make them wolves in sheep’s clothing.

At times, they can be manipulators. They often say one thing but do something else. They may even give others false verbal assurances just to get their way in the end.

4. Assertive Communicators

This is the ideal type and is often the most effective and tactful. They convey their thoughts respectfully and assuredly. Their peers usually feel comfortable and unthreatened in their presence.

They are willing to take on tough tasks but also have their boundaries. They know when to say “No.”. They know how to stand up for themselves without being unduly aggressive as well.

How To Use Communication Styles In The Workplace

The ideal style one should opt to use is assertiveness. People in this category tend to be likable, confident, and, in general, good leaders. Many valuable communication lessons can be learned from them:

  1. One must always try to create a warm and safe environment for conversations, whether that be one-on-one or group meetings.
  2. Instead of just giving yes or no answers, give a bit of explanation for answers as well to help others improve more.
  3. One may find co-workers compromising on company interests just to further their agendas. In such cases, you must have the backbone to take a stand.
  4. Employees should try to maintain positive body language and develop good verbal communication abilities so their messages don’t get misinterpreted.

These aforementioned characteristics of an assertive communication style can be of immense benefit in an office environment. It can help us better blend into the corporate world and gain the respect of our fellow peers.

Finding Out Your Communication Style

Now, a lot of you must be wondering what category you fit into. How do you figure out what your style is? Well, here are a few tips to help you out:

1. Taking Opinions Of Friends and Acquaintances

Many times, there are qualities others can see in us that we fail to recognize. Taking the opinion of those who know us can help us gain fresh insight into our personalities. We can learn new things and also better understand what our communication style is.

2. Taking Online Quizzes

There are several online questionnaires, tests, quizzes, etc. that can help users determine which category they fall into. The results may be generated by software, but the questions and methodology of evaluation are put forth by experts in most cases.

3. Researching Opinions Of Experts

Experts can include psychologists, corporate professionals, websites that specialize in these niches, etc. There’s tons of information available online (including this article itself), which can help readers get a better perspective on what their communication style is.

However, with each of the above suggestions, we should keep in mind that all suggestions are based on opinions, which can sometimes be wrong. Even technology can produce errors from time to time. But these methods can give us a general idea of where we stand, which is still quite useful.

How To Improve Communication Skills

Merely learning about communication is not enough; we must also make use of the knowledge acquired. Below are some ideas to get you started:

1. Be A Good Listener

An overlooked aspect of communication is listening. One must not only be a good speaker but also adept at absorbing input from others and interpreting it correctly. There is a famous quotation on this matter that states:

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” - Epictetus

Also, when we speak, we are merely telling others what we know. However, when we listen, we may learn something new, thereby helping us expand our intellectual horizons.

2. Reading More

Reading helps improve our vocabulary and our overall knowledge of the world. The things we learn by reading can help improve both our written and spoken communication. This is especially true if the language spoken in the office is not our first language.

3. Doing An Online Course

Nowadays, we live in the information age, and learning opportunities are easily accessible. Online courses are one of them, with several websites like Coursera or Udemy that specialize in them. Some of these courses are even free, while others also offer certificates upon completion.

Pro Tip: What if you’re not too worried about getting a certificate and just want to learn new things in general? What if you can't find something on a course-specific website? No worries! You can always use… YouTube!

That’s right. Several users upload old courses that no one signed up for on YouTube to gain money from ads. This is a great way to improve our communication, or any skill, for that matter.

Granted, one may not get a certificate, but the knowledge is still available, and that’s the most important thing.

How To Use Communication Skills To Get A Job

A field like consumer services can be a good career path if you are an effective communicator. Developing this aspect as well as knowing how to cash in on it is vital. Here are some situations where it may come in handy:

Writing Up A Good CV

As already mentioned, communication has several modes, and writing is one of them. Making a proper CV is a sign of good communication. You’d be surprised to know how many people make numerous grammar mistakes in their CVs, errors in the format, and so on.

Researching these things well while making a CV can be immensely beneficial. Also, one can use online tools like Ginger or Grammarly to rectify grammar mistakes to make a better impression on their CVs and also learn from their language mistakes.

Job Interviews

These usually put a candidate’s speaking and listening abilities to the test. The most important thing is to just be yourself and understand where your strengths or weaknesses are. This will help you speak more confidently.

Avoid using fancy words if you’re not sure about their meanings. Instead, opt to be simple but effective with your vocabulary. Familiarize yourself with the technical terms and industry-related jargon, as this will help you get up to speed if you land the job.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the most effective form of communication?

Ans: Ideally, no one form of communication is best for all scenarios. Each has its own merits and demerits, which make them fit for different scenarios.

For example, face-to-face spoken communication is best for resolving disputes in the workplace. However, when it comes to giving out important office-related news or notices, written communication, like email, is more suitable. It also ensures that there is a documented record of the news in case some confusion comes up later.

Q: Which communication technique shows that someone has a team orientation?

Ans: Listening is a great technique that shows team orientation, as a person who listens well is liked by most. Having the right blend between listening and speaking makes one more appealing to others. Being a good listener helps us understand our team better and is essential for leadership positions.

Q: How do aggressive communicators usually express themselves?

Ans: Aggressive communicators in offices often tend to cross the line between personal and professional matters. They tend to make strong eye contact, invade personal spaces, interrupt others, and, in general, have a craving for dominance.

Q: What are the four types of communication styles?

Ans: Communication styles have been divided into four classes in this article. Those who are a bit submissive and struggle to say no are passive.

Those who need to dominate are aggressive. Those with a mix of the aforementioned two along with a tendency to manipulate are Passive-Aggressive. The ones who are respectful and confident but get their point across well are assertive.

Q: How do I know my communication style?

Ans: One of the best ways to figure out your style of communication is introspection. Apart from that, seeking out feedback from those you know, taking online quizzes, reading up on opinions from specialists, etc. all provide valuable feedback.

Q: How can your personal listening style impact your communication?

Ans: TListening is often an overlooked aspect of communication. An active listener can have an attractive personality and can learn and progress much more.

Those who don’t listen well may not be able to carry out conversations as effectively and also have a higher chance of misinterpreting information.

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