Normal vs. Healthy Communication (Part 2 of 4): Aggressive Communication
Jennifer Owen, LPC, NCC
Welcome back! We had discussed in our first blog of this series that a significant amount of interpersonal relationship problems come about from poor communication. If you haven’t already read part one of this blog series, head over there and give it a read.
We had discussed in our first blog that just because some forms of communication are “normal” doesn’t mean that they are “healthy”. In an effort to improve our relationships with other people, we must take practical steps to change our “normal” communication to “healthy” communication. These practical steps will be different depending on the type of communication style(s) you use. Part one described applicable ways to challenge passive communication. Now let’s talk about the next communication style, aggressive communication.
The Aggressive Communicator
Aggressive communicators will speak to others in a threatening and attacking manner. They are seen as bossy, dominating, loud, and hostile. They frequently blame others for their mistakes and don’t accept responsibility for their own actions. Although it seems as if they get their way most of the time, their berating behaviors makes it difficult for others to respect or support them. Levels of aggressiveness can range from minimal to severe. Regardless of the severity of the aggression, this communication can be very damaging to relationships.
There are many reasons why people communicate in an aggressive manner. Sometimes, aggressive communicators have felt hurt in the past and communicate aggressively so as not to get hurt again. Aggressive communicators have often been communicated to in an aggressive manner by parents, siblings, a spouse, coworkers, etc. Regardless of why someone communicates aggressively, it does not give them the right to continue to disrespect others.
Here are some examples of aggressive communication:
- Yelling, shouting, arguing
- Tends to speak loudly, especially when trying to get a point across
- Physical pain such as tense shoulders and clenched jaw
- Typically seen as opinionated and/or blunt
- Tend to get into more physical fights with others
- Interrupts/talks over others
- Can be sarcastic
- Ignoring others rights to support owns own rights
- Takes from others
- Difficulty empathizing with others
- Seen as bossy
- During a confrontation, their eye contact is said to be “glaring”
- Crossing arms, eye rolling, and/or finger pointing
- Tells other people what they are thinking
- Rarely admit when they are wrong
- Rarely apologize
- Struggle to manage anger
- Controlling in relationships
- Blame others for their problems
- Denend self by criticizing others
- Thinking that only their needs matter
- Looking out for self
- Frequently complain
- Bullying others
- Damage others self-esteem
Does this sound like you? If so, you’re probably trying to figure out a way to call me up and defend yourself. If you are feeling that way, remember, this is normal. Being aware of our unhealthy communication patterns is the first step to developing healthy communication patterns. And remember, just because it is normal, doesn’t mean that we want to continue to just be “normal”. We want to be healthy communicators.
Here are some examples of ways in which you, as an aggressive communicator, can learn to change your communication to be healthier:
- Watch your voice tone and volume. Practice speaking calmly rather than aggressively.
- Begin to recognize and respect the rights of others.
- Avoid physical fights.
- Ask how others feel and begin to try to see things from their point of view.
- Warm and inviting posture and non-verbal communication- Open stance, kind eyes (no eye-rolling), and avoid finger pointing
- Listen to others rather than interrupting others.
- Intentionally find ways to meet the needs of others rather than yourself (volunteer, help a friend in need, etc.).
- Get all the facts before speaking/making decisions.
- Attempt to provide solutions to complaints.
- Admit when you are wrong and apologize (Practice saying, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”)
- Begin to learn anger management skills (get involved in an anger management counseling group).
Changing your aggressive communication will not come naturally; however, this change is crucial for healthy interpersonal relationships. By implementing these healthy forms of communication, you will start to notice a change in how you interact with the people around you. Not only that, you will probably notice a difference in how you feel about yourself. Give yourself grace and keep practicing healthy communication.
Don’t forget to come back and read about the remaining communication styles and ways in which we can transform our communication from normal to health.