Are you aware of your own communication style? It’s easy to point out aggressive and deferring communication styles in others, but what most people don’t realize is that they, themselves, exhibit these same weaknesses. If you are doing something wrong, would you want to know about it, or just keep doing things the way you have been doing them? Sure, nobody wants to be criticized or told they’re making a mistake. It’s embarrassing. But think of it this way – you’ll only feel embarrassed for a little while and you’ll experience the benefits of your improved behavior forever. Take some time to reflect on your communication style and take the first steps toward correcting it.


Start with assessing your problems. Consider two fictional characters: Anita has a deferring communication style, while Raul has an aggressive communication style. Anita has a hard time saying no to people. She doesn’t want to cause trouble or get on anyone’s bad side, so she sacrifices her own needs to please others. As a result, she feels like a doormat and ends up doing things that she can’t or really doesn’t want to do. Raul, on the other hand, forces his will on others. He knows what he wants and he’s not afraid to take it from anyone. As a result, he doesn’t have many friends, and people at work try to avoid him. Do either of these people sound familiar?

A person with an aggressive communication style behaves very differently than someone with a deferring communication style. But the one thing they have in common is the mountain of problems they both face on a daily basis. You may not notice your deferring or an aggressive communication style, but you will notice the problems you face as a result of it. Think about the problems in your life and think about whether or not they could be related to your communication style.


Before you can change your communication style, you need to identify which type of communication style you use right now. Have you ever experienced the embarrassment of wearing your shirt backwards? You probably didn’t realize it was on backwards, so you walked around like that for hours until someone finally told you. It was easy for anyone who looked at you to see that your shirt was on backwards but, unless you took a look in the mirror, you couldn’t see it for yourself. The same is true of becoming aware of your communication style. Someone either has to tell you that you use a certain communication style, or you have to take a good long look at your behavior with a critical eye.

One thing to consider is that you have rights when you communicate with others. Often people with deferring or aggressive communication styles have a poor understanding of their rights or the rights of others. Deferring people may not feel their rights are as important as those of others. Meanwhile, aggressive people probably feel that they are more deserving of their rights than other people. In order to change your communication style to be more assertive, you must first know basic rights, so that you can respect both your rights and the rights of others.

The following is a list of ten of the most important basic rights of assertion.

1. The right to ask for what you want
2. The right to have an opinion, feelings and emotions
3. The right to have intuitive ideas and make comments
4. The right to make your own decisions and to cope with the consequences
5. The right to choose whether or not to get involved in the problems of someone else
6. The right to make mistakes
7. The right to be successful
8. The right to change your mind
9. The right to privacy
10. The right to be alone and independent

Only when you understand that both you and others are entitled to these rights can you truly behave and communicate assertively. Learning these rights is one of the first steps in changing your communication style. When you learn to communicate assertively, your communication style will no longer hold you back from getting what you want. Begin practicing your new assertive communication right away, and we know that you’ll notice the difference in your life right away.

If you want to learn more about developing or teaching soft skills, sign up for our free Soft Skills 101 webinar!