Communication Styles – The mouse, the lion, the fox, and the owl

April 30, 2021

Communication is so important in our interactions with others. Good communication allows both you those you are trying to connect with a better understanding of information shared in a quick manner. When we have poor communication, it can lead to frustration and errors in messages sent and received. Below are four communication styles that I would like to explore with you.

The Mouse- Passive Communication

A passive communicator is one who puts others needs before their own. Often quiet and doesn’t stand up for themselves, even if something is happening that they don’t agree with. This can often lead to being taken advantage of, or people not understanding your needs. A passive communicator is often times fearful of making others angry or being rejected. Think about the squeak of a mouse, often times quiet and even goes unheard sometimes because we do not know they are there.

The Lion- Aggressive Communication

The voice of a lion is loud and mighty. Think of that ROAR! An aggressive communicator is often referred to as a lion because the king of the jungle will always be heard first and loudest. But does that lion hear the voice of others? Aggressive communicators are often communicating to ensure their needs are being met and not considering others. Aggressive communicators are often times unwilling to work toward a compromise when there is a conflict of needs. There is use of domination, humiliation, and criticism. An aggressive communicator may not even listen to others.

The Fox- Passive Aggressive Communication

That sly fox, quiet and sneaky it may be, but be cautious, as a subtle indirect expression of anger may be present. Those who communicate passive aggressively often have feelings of resentment or powerlessness behind the message they are sending. They may feel incapable of directly dealing with their resentments and it is expressed in this way.

The Owl- Assertive Communication

The owl, a wise one we call them. Owls are often very aware of what is going on, remain calm and collected, and are typically more observant than reactive.  The owl communicator often acknowledges both theirs and others needs. The assertive one is able to stand up for themselves while also respecting the opinions of others. An owl is able to hold its own confidently and strong. An owl listens to listen, not to respond.

Let’s look at an example of each type of communication with the scenario below:

You go to your favorite restaurant that you have been craving and order your most favorite dish, chicken alfredo with extra garlic bread. Out comes your meal, they accidently served you veggie alfredo with one slice of garlic bread. Your server asks “does everything look alright?” What do you do?

A passive communicator may say: “It looks great, thank you”

This person may be hesitant to ask for their meal to be corrected, for fear of annoying the server or causing an issue. This person did not get the meal that they were craving.

An aggressive communication may say: “What are you, dumb? This is not what I wanted and it looks disgusting. Take it back now and get me what I ordered!”

This person did not even consider the other person. It may have not even been the server who made a mistake, perhaps it was the kitchen. This person may have just humiliated this server.

A Passive Aggressive communicator may say: *mutters to self-first and smiles at the server* “Everything looks umm alright I guess, if you like the wrong food ha”.

This person expressed their problem, but in a sarcastic way without directly addressing the problem.

An Assertive communicator may say: “Thanks for bringing this out for me but it does not appear to be what I ordered. I ordered the chicken alfredo with extra garlic bread. Can you correct this for me, please?”

This person was considerate and understanding that an error was made somewhere. Yes, they may have to wait for their food longer, but they did not bring anyone down and considered both parties and were kind and respectful in their response.

I leave you with this: be mindful over this next week of your communication with others and see if you can identify your communication style. Interactions with different individuals may be different. For example, passive towards your server, aggressive towards a stranger, passive aggressive towards your spouse, and assertive with your boss. Next weeks blog will focus on improving communication. See you then!

Written by: Meaghan Warner, LCSW

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