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Communication styles

Want to gain a deeper understanding of community styles and common communication theories? Check out this page below.

Communication is an important aspect of our everyday lives, inside and outside of work.It underpins everything we do and can be a deal maker or deal breaker. Here we explore the different types of communication styles that are available to us.

If you'd like to learn about communication models, click here or scroll to the bottom of the page!

Types of communication styles

Assertive communication

Assertive communication is a style of communication that involves expressing oneself in a clear, confident, and respectful manner. When using assertive communication, individuals are able to communicate their thoughts, feelings, needs, and boundaries effectively, whilst also respecting the perspectives and boundaries of others.

Assertive communicators are able to clearly and directly express their opinions, without resorting to aggression or passivity. They are able to stand up for themselves and assert their rights, whilst still maintaining a sense of respect for others. This style of communication is characterised by using "I" statements to express feelings and needs, active listening to understand others, and non-verbal cues that convey openness and engagement.

Assertive communication is important because it allows individuals to express themselves authentically, set and maintain boundaries, and promote healthy and productive relationships. It helps to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts, as well as foster mutual understanding and respect.

In summary, assertive communication is a valuable communication style that allows individuals to express themselves confidently and respectfully. It promotes open and honest dialogue, helps prevent conflicts, and builds stronger relationships. By understanding and adopting assertive communication techniques, individuals can improve their communication skills and enhance the quality of their interactions with others.

Aggressive communication

Aggressive communication is a style of communication that is forceful, confrontational, and often disrespectful. When using aggressive communication, individuals prioritise their own needs and opinions over others and may resort to tactics such as yelling, interrupting, or using demeaning language to assert dominance and control the conversation.

Aggressive communicators tend to disregard the feelings and perspectives of others and may not actively listen or consider alternative viewpoints. They may use aggressive body language, such as invading personal space or pointing fingers, to intimidate others and assert their dominance.

This style of communication can create a hostile and tense environment, hindering effective communication and damaging relationships. Aggressive communication often leads to misunderstandings, resentment, and a breakdown in trust.

Understanding aggressive communication is essential for navigating and responding to this communication style. It is important to remain calm, assertive, and focused on addressing the issue at hand rather than engaging in a power struggle. By using active listening techniques, expressing empathy, and setting clear boundaries, it is possible to de-escalate conflicts and encourage more respectful and effective communication.

In summary, aggressive communication is a harmful communication style that involves forceful and disrespectful communication tactics. By recognising and understanding aggressive communication, individuals can develop strategies to effectively respond and foster healthier and more productive interactions.

Passive communication 

Passive communication is a style of communication where individuals struggle to express their needs, opinions, and boundaries effectively. Those who use passive communication tend to avoid conflict and confrontation, often putting the needs and desires of others above their own. They may struggle to assert themselves and may have difficulty expressing their true feelings and emotions.

Passive communicators often have a soft-spoken tone and may use non-verbal cues that convey hesitation or discomfort. They may avoid direct eye contact and have a tendency to back down in the face of disagreement or opposition. This style of communication can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of clarity in expressing one's thoughts and emotions.

Passive communication can be detrimental to personal and professional relationships as it may prevent individuals from truly expressing themselves and asserting their needs. It can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and a lack of fulfilment. Understanding passive communication is crucial in order to adapt one's communication style and create an environment where open and honest dialogue can take place. By being aware of passive communication and its effects, we can work towards improving our communication skills and fostering healthier and more productive relationships.

Passive-aggressive communication

Passive-aggressive communication is a style of communication that combines elements of both passive and aggressive behaviours. Individuals who engage in passive-aggressive communication often appear agreeable on the surface, but they express their true feelings and frustrations in subtle and indirect ways. They may use sarcasm, backhanded compliments, or withholding information to convey their dissatisfaction or to provoke a reaction from others.

Passive aggressive communication can be damaging to relationships as it often involves hidden resentment and a lack of open and honest dialogue. It creates an atmosphere of tension and can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. The indirect nature of this communication style can make it difficult to address the underlying issues and find resolution.

Recognising passive-aggressive communication is important in order to respond appropriately and navigate these interactions. It is crucial to promote open and honest communication, expressing thoughts and emotions directly, and seeking clarification if needed. By fostering an environment of trust and understanding, individuals can work towards healthier and more effective communication, leading to stronger relationships and a more harmonious atmosphere.

Communication models

Throughout the years, many theorists have created their own communication models - from PALMS through to CUDSA, here we explore them.

The PALMS communication model

The PALMS communication model is another valuable framework for improving communication skills. PALMS stands for Purpose, Audience, Language, Message, and Structure, which are the core components of this model.

Purpose refers to the clear understanding of why you are communicating and what you hope to achieve through the interaction. Audience involves considering the needs, preferences, and expectations of the individuals or groups you are communicating with. Language focuses on selecting the appropriate words and tone to convey your message effectively and in a way that resonates with your audience. Message refers to the content or information you want to communicate, ensuring it is clear, concise, and relevant. Finally, Structure involves organising your message in a logical and coherent manner, using an appropriate format or framework.

The PALMS communication model offers a strategic approach to communication, helping individuals communicate more purposefully and persuasively. By applying each element of the model, communicators can enhance their ability to engage, inform, and influence others. Whether you are preparing a presentation, writing an email, or engaging in a group discussion, the PALMS communication model provides a structured approach to ensure your message is well-received and understood.

In summary, the PALMS communication model is a powerful tool for enhancing communication effectiveness. By considering the Purpose, Audience, Language, Message, and Structure of your communication, you can ensure that your message is clear, impactful, and engaging. By incorporating the principles of this model into your communication practice, you can become a more effective and confident communicator.

The LEAPS communication model

The LEAPS communication model is a dynamic and comprehensive framework that can greatly enhance communication skills. LEAPS stands for Listen, Empathise, Analyse, Problem Solve, and Synthesise, which are the key elements of this model.

Listen involves actively and attentively listening to others, making an effort to understand their perspective without interrupting or jumping to conclusions. Empathise is about putting yourself in the other person's shoes, trying to understand their emotions and experiences. Analyse involves critically thinking about the information you have gathered and identifying any underlying issues or challenges. Problem Solve is about finding solutions to the identified problems or challenges, using creative and collaborative thinking. Finally, Synthesise involves bringing everything together and communicating your thoughts and solutions effectively.

The LEAPS communication model empowers individuals to have more meaningful and productive conversations. By practising active listening, showing empathy, analysing information, problem-solving, and synthesising ideas, communicators can foster better understanding and build stronger relationships. Whether it is in personal relationships, professional settings, or community interactions, the LEAPS communication model can help individuals communicate with clarity, empathy, and effectiveness. It offers a structured and systematic approach to communication, enabling individuals to communicate more authentically and achieve positive outcomes. By mastering the LEAPS communication model, individuals can unlock their full communication potential and create meaningful connections with others.

The CUDSA communication model

The CUDSA communication model is a widely recognised and highly effective framework for enhancing communication skills. CUDSA stands for Context, Understanding, Delivery, Sensitivity, and Adaptation, which are the key elements that form the foundation of this model.

Context refers to the setting in which communication takes place, including the physical environment, social dynamics, and cultural background. Understanding involves actively listening and comprehending the message being conveyed, as well as seeking clarification when needed. Delivery focuses on how the message is presented, taking into account tone of voice, body language, and choice of words. Sensitivity refers to being aware of the emotions and perspectives of others, and adapting one's communication style accordingly. Finally, Adaptation involves adjusting communication strategies to meet the needs and preferences of different individuals or groups.

The CUDSA communication model helps individuals navigate various communication scenarios, whether it be a business meeting, a personal conversation, or a public speaking engagement. By consciously applying each element of the model, communicators can improve their clarity, empathy, and effectiveness in getting their message across.

By mastering the CUDSA communication model, individuals can unlock the secret to effective communication. This model provides a systematic approach to understanding and improving communication skills, allowing individuals to connect more authentically, build stronger relationships, and achieve their desired outcomes. Whether you are a student, a professional, or simply someone looking to enhance your interpersonal skills, the CUDSA communication model is a valuable tool to have in your communication toolbox.

The Mehrabian communication model

The Mehrabian communication model, developed by Albert Mehrabian, is a commonly referenced model that focuses on the role of nonverbal communication in conveying meaning. It suggests that only 7% of the message is conveyed through words, whilst 38% is conveyed through vocal tone and 55% through nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language. Whilst this model has been widely cited, it is important to note that it applies specifically to the communication of feelings and attitudes, rather than the communication of factual information.

The Mehrabian communication model highlights the significance of nonverbal cues in understanding and interpreting communication. It emphasises that our tone, facial expressions, and body language often speak louder than the words we use. Understanding and being aware of these nonverbal cues can enhance our ability to communicate effectively and accurately interpret the messages of others. However, it is important to remember that this model is not a comprehensive representation of all forms of communication and should not be applied to every communication scenario.

In conclusion, the Mehrabian communication model sheds light on the power of nonverbal communication in conveying emotions and attitudes. By recognising the importance of nonverbal cues, individuals can become more skilled at understanding and interpreting the messages being communicated, leading to more effective and meaningful interactions.

Schramm's Communication Model

Schramm's Communication Model, proposed by Wilbur Schramm in 1954, is a communication model that emphasises the dynamic nature of communication and the importance of feedback. This model builds upon the earlier Interactional Model and recognises that communication is a continuous and interactive process between the sender and receiver. According to Schramm, communication involves the encoding and decoding of messages, as well as the interpretation and understanding of those messages.

In Schramm's Communication Model, feedback plays a crucial role. It allows the sender to assess the effectiveness of their message and make necessary adjustments. Feedback can be both verbal and nonverbal, providing valuable information to both parties involved. Additionally, this model acknowledges that communication is influenced by various factors, such as social, cultural, and psychological backgrounds, which shape the interpretation and understanding of messages.

Schramm's Communication Model provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the complexity of communication. It emphasises the interactive nature of communication and highlights the importance of feedback in the communication process.

By recognising the dynamic aspects of communication and incorporating feedback, individuals can improve their communication skills and ensure their messages are effectively conveyed and understood. This model encourages a continuous cycle of encoding, decoding, and feedback, leading to more meaningful and impactful communication.

Berlo's Communication Model

Berlo's Communication Model, proposed by David Berlo in 1960, is a widely used communication model that provides a framework for understanding the process of communication. This model emphasises the factors that influence the effectiveness of communication, including the source, message, channel, receiver, and feedback.

According to Berlo's model, the source is the sender of the message, who encodes the information and selects the appropriate channel to transmit it. The message is the content being communicated, and it is conveyed through a chosen channel, such as verbal, written, or nonverbal means. The receiver is the intended recipient of the message, who decodes and interprets the information. Feedback is an essential component of the model, as it allows for the sender to receive information about the effectiveness of their message and make adjustments if needed.

The Berlo's Communication Model highlights the importance of clear encoding and decoding, as well as the appropriate selection of the channel for effective communication. It recognises that communication is a complex and dynamic process influenced by various factors. By understanding and applying this model, individuals can enhance their communication skills and improve their ability to convey messages accurately and understand the messages of others.

The Interactional Model

The Interactional Model, proposed by Wilbur Schramm in 1954, is a communication model that focuses on the process of communication and the role of feedback. According to this model, communication is a continuous and interactive process between the sender and receiver. It emphasises that communication is not simply a one-way transmission of information, but rather a mutual exchange.

In the Interactional Model, the sender encodes a message and sends it to the receiver through a chosen channel. The receiver then decodes the message and provides feedback to the sender. Feedback is an essential component of this model, as it allows the sender to assess the effectiveness of their message and make adjustments if needed. Feedback can be both verbal and nonverbal, providing valuable information to both parties involved.

This model also recognises that communication is influenced by various factors, such as the social, cultural, and psychological backgrounds of the individuals involved. These factors shape the interpretation and understanding of the message, highlighting the importance of context in communication.

The Interactional Model provides a framework for understanding the complexity of communication and emphasises the importance of feedback in the communication process. By recognising the interactive nature of communication and the role of feedback, individuals can improve their communication skills and ensure that their messages are effectively conveyed and understood.

The Transmission Model

The Transmission Model, proposed by Shannon and Weaver in 1949, is a foundational communication model that focuses on the process of transmitting information from a sender to a receiver. According to this model, communication involves a sender who encodes a message into a signal and transmits it through a chosen channel to a receiver who decodes the signal to understand the message.
The model highlights the importance of clarity and accuracy in the encoding and decoding processes, as any errors or disruptions in the transmission can lead to misunderstandings or distortion of the message.
The Transmission Model also recognises the role of noise, which can interfere with the transmission and affect the accuracy of the message. This model provides a simplified representation of communication as a linear process, making it useful for understanding the basics of how information is transmitted.
However, it does not fully capture the complexity and dynamics of real-life communication interactions. Nevertheless, the Transmission Model serves as a fundamental building block for more advanced communication models and theories.

The Cultural Model

The Cultural Model, proposed by James Carey in the 1980s, is a communication model that focuses on the role of culture in shaping and influencing communication processes. Carey believed that communication is not simply the transmission of information, but rather the creation and sharing of meaning within a cultural context. According to this model, culture plays a significant role in shaping our beliefs, values, and symbols, which in turn influence how we communicate and interpret messages.

The Cultural Model highlights the importance of understanding the cultural context in which communication takes place, as different cultures may have different norms, customs, and ways of interpreting information. By considering the cultural context, communicators can avoid misunderstandings, bridge cultural gaps, and communicate more effectively with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

The Cultural Model emphasises the dynamic and complex nature of communication, recognising that it is not a static process, but rather a reflection of the broader cultural and social contexts in which we exist. By embracing the Cultural Model, individuals can become more culturally competent communicators and engage in meaningful and inclusive conversations across cultures.

The Cognitive Dissonance Theory

The Cognitive Dissonance Theory, proposed by Leon Festinger in the 1950s, explores the discomfort or tension that arises when individuals hold contradictory beliefs or engage in behaviours that conflict with their existing beliefs or values. According to Festinger, this cognitive dissonance motivates individuals to reduce the inconsistency and restore cognitive harmony.

This theory suggests that when people experience cognitive dissonance, they are motivated to either change their beliefs or justify their actions to align with their existing beliefs. Festinger argued that individuals are more likely to change their attitudes and beliefs when the inconsistency is significant, the dissonance is uncomfortable, and there are no alternative justifications.

The Cognitive Dissonance Theory has been widely applied in various fields, including psychology, marketing, and decision-making. It helps explain phenomena such as post-purchase dissonance, where individuals may experience buyer's remorse after making a significant purchase, and the effects of persuasive messages that aim to create cognitive dissonance to change attitudes or behaviours.

By understanding the Cognitive Dissonance Theory, individuals can gain insight into their own decision-making processes and the factors that influence their beliefs and behaviours. This awareness can lead to more conscious decision-making, self-reflection, and personal growth.

The Social Exchange Theory

The Social Exchange Theory, developed by Thibaut and Kelley in the 1950s, is a theory that examines social interactions from an economic perspective. According to this theory, individuals engage in social relationships based on a cost-benefit analysis. They weigh the potential rewards and costs of a relationship and make decisions accordingly. The rewards can include companionship, emotional support, and shared experiences, whilst the costs may include time, effort, and sacrifice. 

The Social Exchange Theory also considers the concept of equity, suggesting that individuals strive for a fair balance between their inputs and outputs in a relationship. If there is a perceived inequity, individuals may attempt to restore balance by adjusting their contributions or seeking fairness.

This theory provides insights into how individuals evaluate and maintain relationships. It highlights the importance of reciprocity, trust, and mutual benefit in fostering satisfying and stable relationships. By understanding the Social Exchange Theory, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their own relationships and make informed decisions about the investments they make in their social connections.

The Relational Dialectics Theory

The Relational Dialectics Theory, proposed by Leslie Baxter and Barbara Montgomery in the 1980s, offers a unique perspective on communication within relationships. This theory acknowledges that relationships are dynamic and ever-changing, and it explores the tensions and contradictions that exist within them.

According to this theory, relationships are not static, but rather a continuous interplay between opposing forces. These opposing forces, known as dialectics, include autonomy/connection, openness/closedness, and predictability/novelty.

The Relational Dialectics Theory suggests that these tensions are inherent in all relationships and that managing them is essential for maintaining healthy and satisfying relationships. Baxter and Montgomery argue that individuals should embrace these dialectics and find a balance between opposing forces rather than striving for one extreme or the other. They suggest that managing dialectical tensions requires ongoing negotiation, communication, and compromise.

This theory challenges the notion that relationships are either perfect or flawed, and instead highlights the importance of navigating and embracing the complexities within relationships. By understanding the Relational Dialectics Theory, individuals can gain insight into the dynamics of their relationships and develop strategies to manage and navigate the inherent tensions that arise. This can lead to more fulfilling and resilient relationships built on understanding, communication, and compromise.