Pathways Wellness

Addressing Communication Styles and How to Communicate Effectively

Addressing Communication Styles and How to Communicate Effectively
Raul Haro
May 30, 2023
Most people don't know what communication styles are, let alone how many exist. Communication styles are vastly different from each other and influence our sense of self. Learning how to effectively use healthy communication styles is important to building our social life skills. People don't like being around others who treat them poorly, and this […]
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Addressing Communication Styles and How to Communicate Effectively

Most people don't know what communication styles are, let alone how many exist. Communication styles are vastly different from each other and influence our sense of self. Learning how to effectively use healthy communication styles is important to building our social life skills. People don't like being around others who treat them poorly, and this is sometimes the result of poor communication skills.

Learning how to effectively communicate is not only an important part of life, it's an important part of healing. Someone must learn how to communicate their needs clearly and concisely to get what they need. People cannot read minds, and you cannot expect someone to automatically know what you need.

That's why some mental health care facilities like Pathways Wellness Center spend time teaching their clients about communication styles and how to communicate effectively. Once we learn how to talk to and understand each other, we can focus on building strong social connections. These connections help us not just heal from our mental health troubles, but help us stay in recovery too. Part of that is learning what are healthy ways to communicate.

What Are the Main Communication Styles?

It's debated on just how many communication styles exist, as some aspects can be combined or broken down further. Overall, they can be placed into five different categories. These are passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive.


This type of communication is mostly used for de-escalation, especially in situations where someone could become violent or dangerous. However, it often ignores someone's personal feelings and needs. Those who have grown up in abusive situations often use passive communication to not upset a volatile person. Referring to other people's decisions to avoid tension is a form of passive communication. Sometimes this can lead to misunderstandings or build up anger and resentment in a person who feels forced to use passive communication to stay safe.

If someone says, “It's okay to take the last cookie; I'm not hungry,” when they are afraid of a person's reaction to being told no, is an example of passive communication. Physically, people express passive communication by refusing to make eye contact or trying to make themselves seem small and unthreatening. 


When someone uses aggressive communication, they ignore the needs, feelings, ideas, and rights of other people. Someone who utilizes this communication style frequently becomes defensive or hostile when confronted for their behavior. Aggressive communication is not all bad, as it can be used to dictate a serious need, but when used incorrectly, it can hurt and alienate others.

Saying, “We are doing this now, so get over it" to invalidate someone's hurt feelings is an example of aggressive communication. Physically, people express aggressive communication by pointing, crossing their arms, and rolling their eyes.


This form of communication is well-known as a tactic of manipulation. When someone is passive-aggressive, they appear to be passive on the surface but are acting out of anger and spite on a subtle level. This is used to exert control over other people by using specific tactics to manipulate their feelings. Examples include using sarcasm, avoiding conversations, giving someone the "silent treatment," sabotaging others' efforts, and spreading hurtful rumors. This type of communication disregards the feelings, needs, and rights of others. 

For example, saying, “No offense, but Mary doesn't have the figure to pull off that dress" to someone else when you are angry at Mary is a form of passive-aggressive communication. Physically, someone will look passive or exaggerate a passive state when they use passive-aggressive communication.


This form of communication is considered to be the healthiest. It involves someone expressing their honest feelings and thoughts directly while respecting the feelings and ideas of others. Assertive communication is respectful and helps someone get what they need. However, it's not effective when dealing with aggressive people, as they can interpret assertive communication with aggressive communication. Women are often mislabeled as aggressive when they are attempting to be assertive. Assertive communication is often defined by “I” statements.

An example of an assertive statement is saying, “I need someone to tell me that I will be okay.” Physically, people using assertive communication are relaxed, make eye contact, and have strong postures.

How Do We Learn to Communicate Effectively?

You can learn about communication styles and how to communicate effectively with the help of a mental health care professional. Places like Pathways Wellness Center employ compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who are trained to help clients reach their potential. Everyone can learn how to communicate in a safe, healthy, and respectful way. Learning how to communicate doesn't just show respect to others; it shows respect to yourself.

Some communication styles are a result of underlying trauma or abuse, especially passive communication. Those struggling with issues stemming from trauma, such as an anxiety disorder, must seek treatment. Only by helping someone heal and move on from the need to constantly protect themselves can someone become more assertive about their needs.

Treatments like psychotherapy help clients identify their communication styles. There, they can determine if it's a healthy way to communicate or not. Some types of psychotherapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help someone make the changes they need to communicate better. 

Everyone needs support, care, and understanding to grow. If you need help learning how to communicate, don't see it as a point of failure. See it as an opportunity to succeed and improve yourself. 

How we communicate is important to understanding not only ourselves but our fellow peers as well. Sometimes it can be hard to learn how to communicate effectively, especially when struggling with a mental health disorder or illness. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Azusa and Glendora, California, we help our clients learn the skills they need to succeed in life. Communicating isn't just talking; it's conveying your needs effectively. Everyone needs to feel supported and validated to find the strength they need to overcome their troubles. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or co-occurring mental health disorders, don't despair. Help is right around the corner. Call us at (888) 771-0966 today.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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