Yes, but is it you at your highest and most authentic self? Chances are, not really. We form trauma responses based on wounds. These wounds are distressing events that leave a lasting imprint on the people they affect.” We then build characteristics to help navigate these lasting imprints, and at times, protect this “identity.” These characteristics can come with the narrative of “I can’t trust people” or “They won’t listen anyway.” The wounds around feeling unheard or unseen can create characteristics that serve as barriers or walls to prevent further wounding. We develop these characteristics, also known as defense mechanisms, to feel protected and safe. Without interrogation and introspective work, these unhealthy patterns can form a sense of identity. Have you ever heard yourself or someone say “this is just who I am?” Is it really or is it a trauma response that has developed for you to feel seen and heard?
When we think about forming relationships, folks usually say “communication is key” and that is where it ends. What about interpretation, vulnerability, and honesty within the communication? Who (or what) taught you how to communicate your needs and emotions? There are four styles of communication, Passive, Passive-Aggressive, Aggressive, and Assertive. Which is the healthiest and most effective? Let’s break it down:
The article, 4 Types of Communication by Alvernia University gives a breakdown - Passive communication is a style that often acts indifferently, yielding to others. Passive communication usually fails to express feelings or needs, allowing the other person/party to express themselves. Frequently, passive communication lacks outward communication and can lead to misunderstanding, anger build-up, or resentment. Passive-aggressive communication is often subtle, indirect, or have a secretive way. Most passive-aggressive communication will mutter to themselves (or others) rather than confront a person or issue. They find it difficult to acknowledge anger, use facial expressions that correlate with how they feel, and may even deny there is a problem. Aggressive communication often offers opinions. They don’t mind saying exactly what is on their mind, even if it hurts someone else’s feelings; sometimes masquerading as “keeping it real”. This style can be loud and demanding and tends to blame mistakes on others. Lastly, Assertive communication is thought to be the most effective form of communication. Assertive communication utilizes an open communication link while not being overbearing. Assertive communication can express needs, desires, ideas, and feelings, while also considering the needs of others. Assertive communication aims for both sides to win in a situation, balancing one’s rights with the rights of others.
Ask yourself, is my current style of communication congruent to my highest self? One way to measure a healthy communication style is by noticing communication patterns within your relationships. Am I communicating effectively or am I responding from a familiar place of feeling unseen and unheard? The goal is to hone in on your communication to make sure it is in alignment with who you are, authentically (or who you're becoming). When we’re able to ask the reflective questions, we can then be an active participant and do things differently by interrupting patterns. If you are tired of the same results, try responding differently. If you are expressing goals and dreams but not seeing results, consider where you can make changes? A typical style of communication will only bring typical results. In order to share and build in deep and meaningful ways, take the risk and practice vulnerability by speaking truth and effectively communicating needs.