Communication Styles to Consider That Affect Your Team Dynamic

Caitlyn Knuth
October 14, 2022

In nearly all situations in life, effective communication is key to success. This is especially true when it comes to building cohesive teams and improving group dynamics. From how we interact with our family at home to how we speak to one another in relationships or to our colleagues at work, the way we communicate matters.  

When working with others in a team setting, it can be tempting to break communication down into two simple categories based on nothing more than our own perspectives. There’s a very human tendency to view someone as an effective communicator or an ineffective communicator depending on how well (or not well) they mesh with our own approach to collaboration.  

Thinking of communication with teammates this way isn’t exactly helpful in building a cohesive and understanding team in the long run. It also overlooks a variety of other vital factors within the bigger topic of communication. Those essential elements are referred to as personal communication styles.

There are four primary forms of communication styles out there that are widely recognized. They are vastly different, but when you understand what they entail, your team experience can improve exponentially!

The Passive Communicator

Typically, the passive communicator on your team is the person who takes on the role of actively supporting others rather than bringing their own ideas forward. They might not speak up often and tend to avoid confrontation, too. While a passive communicator isn’t necessarily keen on verbalizing all their thoughts, they will utilize nonverbal communication more frequently to display how they’re authentically feeling about a situation. Sometimes, a passive communicator on a team is seen as submissive when it comes to decision-making.

The Aggressive Communicator

This communication style is extremely direct. The aggressive communicator on your team is someone who confidently shares their point of view but might simultaneously seem dismissive of the opinions of others. An aggressive communicator tends to interject their ideas into any and every conversation possible. They’re also not afraid of confrontation, but their use of direct language can come across as arrogant to others with differing communication styles.

The Passive-Aggressive Communicator

It’s common to find passive-aggressive communicators on your team as well. This type of communication style sees individuals saying one thing to their colleagues while doing another. A passive-aggressive communicator is often simply trying to fit into what they think is a pre-set dynamic within the group. For example, they might verbally communicate that they’re ready and willing to take on a new role in a group project. At the same time, their body language doesn’t match the level of excitement they’re expressing. The results they provide might not match up with what they said they would readily deliver. There’s a great sense of disconnect between words and actions within this communication style.

The Assertive Communicator

An assertive communicator on your team is someone who expresses themselves clearly and confidently. They possess a willingness to explain the details of their decision-making process to those they’re working alongside. At the same time, they’re willing to stand up for the well-being of others on the team. An assertive communicator frequently utilizes expressive body language when speaking to others. They are someone teammates with varying styles of communication typically feel comfortable confiding in because they seem adaptable to new ideas and diverse situations.

Understanding Styles to Help Improve Team Cohesion

It’s fair to say that every one of the communication styles listed above has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Not all styles work well in tandem. To that end, pairing up team members with non-compatible communication styles on a project could do more harm than good for your team’s cohesion. Alternatively, understanding how some of these communication styles enhance one another could work wonders for your team’s happiness and overall effectiveness, too.

The key is being able to recognize that these different styles exist on your team in the first place. The follow-up to that recognition would be encouraging team members to do the same for one another. While solutions might not be immediately evident to communication problems in a group, finding a middle ground is much easier when you can pinpoint the communication styles you’re working with. From here, it’s possible to look for places where team members can compromise, recognize each other’s strengths, and perhaps give a little grace when those styles simply don’t mesh.

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