Passive, Aggressive, & Assertive Communication

Our communication style is often learned in childhood, how important people in our lives such as our parents communicated with us. Over time, we make their communication styles into our style of communicating with others. We may use different styles of communication in different situations with different people. Often our communication style becomes habitual and outside our awareness. Our feelings and wishes are based on our own subjective experience/truth.

Think of a situation in which you communicate either in a passive or aggressive way that you would like to change into a more assertive way. You may use the example below to guide your communication style. Try to communicate with an “I” statement” and not with “You.”

“I feel hurt when you speak to me that way.”

“I feel pushed away when you call me names.”

“I disagree with you. I have my opinion and you have yours. We don’t have to always agree.”

Passive Communication

During passive communication, she/he puts the needs of the other before one’s own needs. The passive person does not express her/his own needs and does not believe she/he has equal rights to the other person.

  • Soft-spoken/quiet
  • Allows others to take advantage.
  • Believes other’s needs are more important.
  • Does not and fears to express her/his own needs.
  • Low confidence.
Aggressive Communication

The person believes strongly in meeting his/her needs at the expense of others. Often this person tends to be hostile, controlling, and bullying others to go along with their demands.

  • Controlling and selfish.
  • Unwilling to compromise.
  • Damages relationships.
  • It could lead to shouting or physical aggression.
  • Use humiliation, threats, shame, and dominance to control others.
  • Does not listen to others because only he knows the truth and is right.
Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is mature and considers the needs of both individuals. An assertive person communicates in a way by respects her/his own needs, wishes, and feelings but also listens to and respects the other person’s needs and feelings.

  • Believes that she/he has a right to voice her/his opinion, wishes, and needs.
  • Often express her/his needs by starting with an “I” statement.
  • Believes she/he has a right to say “No” if it causes harm to self
  • Makes relationships with others stronger
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Believes she/he has a right to be angry when disrespected or mistreated

Aggressive, Passive, and Assertive Communication Practice Form