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Communication - What's your style?

Updated: Mar 6

When we think about communication, we often think about the verbal and non-verbal cues

we ourselves present, as well as observe in others. However, our style of communicating can help or potentially hinder us as we go about our day interacting with different people. Communications styles have often been modelled by the generations before us. Parents and carers can help their children by understanding their child’s particular style of communication, whilst at the same time, recognising their own adult styles of communication.


To help children understand behaviours attributed to the different styles, we use animals to

accompany the labels:

Passive communication style

Passive (Turtle) - a person who is often quiet and withdrawn; will not speak their mind; often lets others control them; is a people pleaser; will follow the crowd to protect themselves; avoids conflict; may complain that they are not heard; worries about others reactions; and may avoid situations requiring social interactions.


Assertive Communication

Assertive (Owl) - a person who speaks their mind and lets others know their thoughts and feelings with the purpose of educating/informing them; presents as confident; understands that others may think and feel differently to them in the same situation; is honest and brave to take risks to speak up; understands they may receive a favourable response to speaking up.

Aggressive Communication

Aggressive (Tiger) - a person who tries to control others often through fear; presents as bossy; ensures they get what they want at the expense of others feelings; wants others to think and feel the same as them; focused on being right rather than compromising.


People can also be a mixture of different styles, including:

Passive-Aggressive (this person uses indirect and sneaky behaviours to control others, and is harder for others to notice controlling behaviours).

Passive-Assertive (this person may be influenced by group size and be more assertive in 1:1 or smaller groups, and more passive in larger groups).

Assertive-Aggressive (this person again may be influenced by group size and situations, and

present as more aggressive when they feel need or have opportunity to control).


Our emotional state can also change our communication style, such as a typically assertive

person becoming aggressive when under the pressure of stress, fatigue and/or

feeling overwhelmed; or this person may also become passive as these overwhelmed feelings stifle their ability to speak up and help themselves.


Psychology encourages children to:

1. Recognise their communication style and how this may be helping or hurting relationships in their family, with their friends, and in the community.

2. Understand situations and dynamics that may change communication styles.

3. Help children to understand the communication styles of their peers, and how to

navigate the dynamics and influences of the different styles in the group.


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