We don’t want to be subjected to aggressive communication, but it’s a fact of life; especially when dealing with another person. In fact, we have all experienced aggression, whether from our own family; our boss or coworkers, or even our spouse or partner.
Aggressive communication in relationships is so damaging that it can completely destroy a relationship. Unfortunately, some people are unaware that they are already engaging in aggressive communication with others; particularly with their own spouses and families. How does aggressive communication begin, and how can it harm a relationship?
When you use an aggressive communication style, you state your needs first; leaving less room for others who are involved and their needs. Aggression usually stems from a sense of insecurity. When you feel threatened, or as if your best interests are in jeopardy, you may adopt an aggressive communication style. People who are aggressive may come across as verbally abusive to others. Because their hostility triggers their partner’s fight or flight instinct and the need to protect themselves; aggressive people may struggle to communicate with their partner.
Definition of Aggressive Communication
How well do you understand the term “aggressive communication in relationships?” We may have a general idea of what aggression, as a communication skill is. But a more in-depth understanding of its definition can help us understand it better and eliminate aggressive communication in relationships. Aggressive communication, as defined by the term, is a method of expressing one’s needs and desires while disregarding the feelings of others.
It’s a selfish and damaging communication style. Aggressive communication can have a negative impact on your relationships and how others perceive you as a person. It can also lead to low self-esteem and less social interaction.
Passive Aggressive Communication
Individuals with a passive communication style do not express their feelings or opinions to others. People adopt a passive communication style for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s to keep them safe from confrontation. Other times, it’s because they’re genuinely laid-back and prefer to go with the flow.
People who use passive communication may be more tolerant of the actions of others. A passive communication style involves more compromise and allowing the other person to have their way, which can leave the person using a passive communication style feeling unsatisfied.
For example, if your partner is having a bad day, you may choose to take a passive approach to a problem you’re having with them. You may reason, “eh, I don’t need to bother them with this today; it’ll be there tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes. Alternatively, if your friend has finally found someone with whom they are connecting, you may choose to tell them your good news the next time so as not to detract from their shining moment.
Examples of Passive Aggressive Communication
Passive aggressive communication can manifest itself in a variety of ways. For example, a person may repeatedly make excuses to avoid certain people in order to express their dislike or anger towards those people.
1. Implied refusal
According to Cullins, “indirectly refusing to meet someone’s needs is a form of passive-aggressive behavior.” For example, suppose you’ve asked your partner or a roommate to do the dishes several times and they don’t say no outright but don’t intend to do the dishes. Sure, they could be being lazy. But they could also be avoiding the dishes on purpose to be spiteful, without telling you directly what’s going on.
Ghosting, according to Muoz, is a form of passive-aggressive communication. Instead of owning the fact that they no longer want to speak with you, a passive-aggressive person would rather leave it all unsaid—by never speaking to you again.
3. Arriving late
Passive-aggressive people frequently arrive late, according to Muoz. Cullins adds that this can also appear as procrastination. The idea is that if a passive-aggressive person doesn’t want to do something, they will put it off until the last minute rather than airing their grievances directly.
In some situations, silence can be very passive-aggressive. This can manifest as stonewalling in the middle of a debate, ignoring a question, or leaving a text on “read.” As Cullins points out, silence, when a response is required, can be considered passive aggression.
People will sometimes make up reasons for doing or not doing something rather than expressing their frustrations directly. According to Moz, getting sick frequently, interfering with responsibilities, or ‘forgetting’ important appointments or dates, can be examples of passive-aggressive communication.
According to Moz, people will sometimes use passive aggression in their words, such as making patronizing remarks. Maybe they insult your intelligence with phrases like “Do you know what I mean by that?” or call you names like “kid” or “honey.” Anything that makes them appear superior or inferior can be considered passive-aggressive communication. (This is also typical narcissistic behavior.)
According to Moz, sarcasm is also passive-aggressive in certain contexts. For example, if you invite your partner to a family gathering and they say sarcastically, “Yeah, you know how much I love your family,” that is passive-aggressive communication. Instead of telling your family about their problems in a direct way, they are hiding their bad feelings behind jokes.
8. Reverse compliments
Backhanded compliments, according to Cullins and Muoz, are very passive-aggressive. “I’m impressed you acted civilized all night,” or “Wow, your outfit is actually really cute today.” This behavior is also known as negging, which is a type of manipulation.
9. Unsolicited advice or opinions
Unsolicited opinions on personal topics, according to Muoz, can be considered passive-aggressive communication. Perhaps they say something similar to “I’d focus on losing a few pounds if I were you,” or “You’ve been looking really tired lately—you should get more sleep.”
10. Disrespectful remarks
Vaguely contemptuous remarks of any kind, anything that comes across as disrespectful, can be considered passive-aggressive. For example, Muoz suggests that you prepare a nice meal for someone and they give you faint praise such as, “Good meal, it was edible.”
11. Adverse body language
Last but not least, Cullins points out that body language can also be used for passive-aggressive communication. Instead of saying what’s bothering them, they may be pouting, crossing their arms, or rolling their eyes. She goes on to say that passive-aggressive behavior is defined as “any behavior that expresses negative feelings without directly stating them.”
Causes of Passive Aggressive Communication
Passive aggressive communication behaviors can have serious consequences for interpersonal relationships in families, romances, and even the workplace. So, why is this frequently destructive behavior so prevalent? A number of factors can contribute to the prevalence of passive aggression.
Some argue that passive-aggressive communication behavior stems from growing up in a home where direct expression of emotions was discouraged or prohibited. People may believe that they are unable to express their true feelings openly, so they may seek ways to passively channel their anger or frustration.
2. Characteristics of the situation
The situation has an impact on passive-aggressive behavior as well. When you are in a situation where open displays of aggression are not socially acceptable, such as at a business or family function, you may be more likely to respond in a covert manner when someone irritates you.
3. Taking the easy way out
It is not always easy to be assertive and emotionally open. When standing up for yourself is difficult or even frightening, passive-aggression may appear to be a more convenient way to deal with your emotions without having to confront the source of your rage.
Coping with Passive Aggressive Communication
So, what can you do when confronted by a friend, coworker, or even a romantic partner who engages in passive aggression on a regular basis? The first step is to identify the warning signs of such behavior. Passive aggression manifests itself in sulking, backhanded compliments, procrastination, withdrawal, and refusal to communicate.
When the other person begins to act in this manner, try not to become enraged. Instead, point out the other person’s feelings in a non-judgmental yet factual manner. If you’re dealing with a child who is clearly upset about having to do chores, say something like, “You appear to be angry at me for asking you to clean your room.”
1. Recognize Your Own Behaviors
It is often easier to identify passive-aggressive behavior in others; however, what if you are the one engaging in these behaviors? Try to take a step back and examine your own behavior objectively.
- You frequently sulk when you are dissatisfied with someone else?
- Do you avoid people who make you angry?
- Have you ever stop talking to people when you’re upset with them?
- You always put things off in order to punish others?
- Do you use sarcasm to avoid having meaningful conversations?
If you believe that your passive-aggressive behavior is causing problems in your relationships, there are steps you can take to change how you interact with others. Here are some strategies for dealing with your behavior.
2. Raise your level of self-awareness.
Passive aggressive communication behaviors can result from a lack of understanding of why you are upset or how you are feeling. Begin to pay attention to what is going on as you react to various people and situations.
3. Allow yourself enough time to make changes.
Recognizing your own patterns and reactions is a good first step toward change, but changing your patterns and reactions can take time.
4. Express yourself in various ways.
Understanding your emotions and learning how to express them appropriately are important steps toward ending passive-aggressive behaviors. Conflict is an unavoidable part of life, but knowing how to effectively express your feelings can lead to better resolutions.
Examples of Aggressive Communication
A person with this communication style will lack empathy in both words and actions, and will only say what they want to say without considering how hurtful their words are.
Aggressive communication does not stop with words; it can also be nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Here are a few examples of aggressive communication:
- Speaking in a commanding and obnoxious tone of voice
- Criticism of others
- Use of humiliation to control others
- Attempts to dominate
- Frequent interruptions
- Statements beginning with “You”
- Easily irritated temper
People who use an aggressive communication style may alienate themselves from others, confirming their insecurity by instilling fear or hatred in others. Aggressive people often struggle to accept responsibility for their actions because they do not want to face their insecurities, making it difficult to learn from situations and receive the support and love they crave.
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In some situations, using an aggressive communication style can be advantageous. If you’re feeling exploited or want to make sure you’ve seen, An aggressive communication style can be beneficial. For example, if you’re competing for a promotion with a coworker, you may need to be aggressive to get ahead.
For example, if a child is frequently bullied at school, he or she may need to demonstrate to the other students that they can handle themselves and are not to be trifled with. When engaging in physical activity, such as at the gym or in a race, an aggressive communication style can be beneficial.
Aggressive Communication in your relationship
Now that we’re familiar with aggressive communication, you’ve probably remembered some instances where you came across someone; such as this at work, and let’s face it, the most common reaction that we will have is to avoid that person.
What if your aggressive communication experiences are the result of your spouse or partner? How do you handle it? A relationship in which you talk but don’t resolve any issues, where feelings of hurt linger because the way you or your partner communicate isn’t resolving your problems but making them worse.
Unfortunately, no relationship can last if the partners do not communicate effectively. If your relationship has an aggressive communication style, don’t expect it to be harmonious because there is no real connection and communication in your relationship.
The stress and conflict that aggressive words can cause in your relationship will take their toll, and that will be the end of it. Can you imagine living with someone who is constantly hostile to you? How about feeling inadequate as a result of the words being thrown at you, and how this person’s lack of empathy can endanger your relationship?
What if you have children who will mimic your partner’s aggressive communication style? When children are exposed to aggressive communication in relationships at a young age, it can leave them permanently scarred.
How to Deal with Aggressive Communication
Being told that you have an aggressive communication style may not change who you are right away, but it is an eye-opener. The realization that you need to change your communication style with others in order to have better relationships will not bring you down or diminish you.
In fact, doing so will help you grow as a person. Accept that you must improve if you want to change, and it begins with these questions.
- Am I putting others down?
- Can I actually listen when people are speaking?
- Am I open to criticism?
- Do my words cause harm to others?
- Am I being blinded by the negative consequences of my freedom of expression?
These are simply questions that will give you an idea of how you communicate, and if you believe assistance is required, there are numerous ways to request it.
Good therapy can help you improve your communication skills, and there is nothing wrong with seeking help to improve your communication skills. Seek the assistance of a reputable therapist who can advise you on how to deal with aggressive communication styles.
It is best to seek help as soon as possible because aggressive communication in relationships has the potential to shake the foundation of even the strongest of relationships. Why do we need to improve our communication skills with others, and why is aggressive communication in relationships so damaging?
The reason for preferring effective communication over aggressive communication in relationships is straightforward.
Aggressive communication can wreak havoc on your relationships in all aspects of your life, including school, family, and work. Even if this is your primary mode of communication, there are steps you can take to replace aggressive behaviors with more productive and assertive ones.
If you’re not sure what your communication style is, you should think about whether you’re making some common conflict resolution mistakes like criticizing and shutting others down. You can also learn more about healthy communication techniques that you can use with the many people in your life, such as listening carefully and attempting to see things from the perspectives of others.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the effects of aggressive communication?
The impact of this type of communication is alienation from and by others. Extremely aggressive communicators frequently fail to ‘own’ issues, instead of blaming others and refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions. This is an intriguing style in which people appear passive and submissive.
What are the characteristics of aggressive communication?
The aggressive communicator’s characteristics include being domineering, condescending, sarcastic, and opportunistic. This manifests as bossy, mean-spirited, unappreciative, and arrogant behavior. Aggressive verbal communication: “You must…”