The Four Types of Communication Responses

The way we communicate has a large impact on our personal relationships, career, and daily lives. If your communication response is less than healthy, it can affect your ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. To succeed in your career and your personal life, it’s important to know your communication style and take steps to change it if needed.

How the Four Types Are Distinguished

Everyone has a unique communication style shaped by their past experiences, but there are four main types that people can generally be categorized into. These types measure communication on four metrics:

These characteristics determine how we protect, ignore, or infringe on the rights of others and ourselves when communicating.

“Rights” of Communication

When we talk about “rights,” in communication, we are focusing on the rights pertaining to the communication, such as:

Assertive Communication Style

Assertive communicators are characterized by their direct approach. They share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings confidently and appropriately. They know how to say “no” when they need to. This communication style both protects their rights and accepts others’ rights. They typically get what they want/need, because they are honest about their needs and can facilitate productive discussions towards them.

Signs of an Assertive Communicator:

If you’re an assertive communicator, keep doing what you’re doing! You do a great job making others feel comfortable, seen, and heard.

Passive Communication Style

Passive communicators have a great deal of difficulty asserting themselves. They are quiet and don’t like being the center of attention, often pushing their thoughts, ideas, and feelings down. They don’t know how to say “no” and dislike conflict, making it hard for them to stand up for their own needs and desires. A passive communicator often ignores their own rights, meaning that they rarely get what they want/need.

Signs of a Passive Communicator:

If you’re a passive communicator, work on finding ways to comfortably express yourself. If you are not comfortable presenting ideas in a meeting, seek out 1-on-1 meetings. If writing is more comfortable, start sending more texts and emails to communicate important matters. You deserve to have your needs met!

Aggressive Communication Style

Aggressive communicators never fail to speak their mind, but often at the expense of others. They assert their thoughts, ideas, and feelings in a way that dominates conversations. An aggressive communicator ignores others’ rights.

Signs of an Aggressive Communicator:

If you’re an aggressive communicator, it’s essential to form more positive communication strategies. Work on taking a breath and calming down before responding, giving others room to speak, and letting others drive the conversation.

Passive-Aggressive Communication Style

Passive-Aggressive communicators seem passive and agreeable on the surface, but often take aggressive actions. They conceal their thoughts, ideas, and feelings, using manipulation to fulfill their needs/wants. A passive-aggressive communicator ignores both theirs and others’ rights.

Signs of a Passive-Aggressive Communicator:

If you’re a passive-aggressive communicator, work on communicating your thoughts, opinions, and needs openly. Explore why you don’t feel safe or comfortable being more direct, and try to work on the underlying causes.

Therapy for Communication Skills

At Medens Health, our talented mental health professionals can help you identify your communication style, understand where it comes from, and work on communicating in a more positive manner. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.