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The 5 Communication Styles Every Manager Needs to Know

Logan Derrick Logan Derrick Last Updated:

As a manager, you must successfully manage different communication styles if you want your team to be successful. Each employee has a unique way of communicating, so you have to navigate these differences if you want to fully utilize their skills. By understanding the five communication styles, you can understand your employees better and learn how to work with them.

No one is born with a natural ability to communicate. Over a lifetime, people hone and develop this skill. If you want to succeed as a manager, you’ll need to learn what to do with each communication style and what not to do. Then, we’ll discuss some online tools that can help you learn how to work better with these unique styles.

As a manger, you need to understand different communication styles if you want your team to be successful. This overview of the 5 communication styles your employee's may be using will help you communicate better and ultimately get more done. #workplace #communication #managertips

Assertive Communicators

communication style: assertive communication

Assertive communication is by far one of the best communication styles to both deal with and use. They are effective communicators who have a naturally high self-esteem. Because of this, they are almost never too aggressive or passive.

These individuals know how to confidently press their case without pushing the limits or being manipulative. They work to achieve their objectives without harming other people and will ask for what they want in a direct manner, without getting upset.


  • Discuss the problem with them
  • Be straightforward and open
  • Expect them to communicate and listen well


  • Waste their time
  • Interrupt them while talking
  • Show disrespect for their ideas

Aggressive Communicators

This kind of communication style cares entirely about winning and everything that entails. They feel like their ideas, needs, and emotions are more important than anyone else’s opinion. Because of this, they can be hostile, aggressive, and even threatening at times.

Other workers can feel intimidated by this abrasive communication tactic. These type of people have a habit of invading the space around them and can make others feel defensive. Their message often gets lost because other people focus on how the message was delivered instead of the individual’s meaning.


  • Be prepared to confidently answer follow-up answers on the spot
  • Expect them to be blunt and decisive
  • Immediately get down to business and focus on the topic


  • Make promises you cannot deliver
  • Take their questions or bluntness too seriously
  • Expect them to open up about their non-work life

Passive-Aggressive Communicators

These communicators seem passive externally, but they operate from a sense of anger. Often, they feel powerless. This causes them to feel resentful and may drive them to self-sabotage.

Emotionally, they may seem sarcastic or patronizing. This type of employee often engages in rumors and gossip. If they do not get their way, they may sulk or complain.

A passive-aggressive communicator will often be sweet and pleasant in person, but this calm demeanor hides their true feelings. They can quickly contribute to a toxic work environment if they are allowed free reign.


  • Understand what’s driving their behavior and your role in it
  • Pay attention to their message
  • Set communication ground rules
  • Focus on the core issue or problem


  • Respond passive-aggressively
  • Pay attention to their behavior; focus on their message instead
  • Become angry or upset

Manipulative Communicators

A manipulative communicator rarely says what they mean directly. Instead, they scheme and influence others to get what they want. Other people rarely realize the cunning goal this person is secretly working toward.

This is one of the most insincere and patronizing communication styles out there. The behavior of these people can be frustrating and often leads to the other person feeling guilty. They often manipulate other people into feeling obligated to help them.


  • Remember that manipulators often operate from a place of fear
  • Know what you want before your meeting and stick to it
  • Clarify expected behaviors
  • Ask direct questions
  • Talk with superiors if you are unsure of how to handle the individual


  • Get swayed by an emotional argument
  • Be afraid to reassign the individual to a different group if they target another employee
  • Respond with criticism or negative statements

Submissive Communicators

A submissive communicator simply wants to make everyone else happy. They hate conflict, so they will often treat other people’s needs as more important than their own. If they ever try to state their opinion, they will often apologize for it.

This person will typically let other people make decisions for them. They find it difficult to express their feelings because they want to avoid confrontation. And while they may often have good ideas, it is hard for them to express their thoughts confidently.


  • Give them space to open up and share their ideas
  • Listen to their ideas
  • Be patient
  • Support their decisions


  • Confront them or become angry
  • Dismiss their ideas and opinions
  • Speak over them or interrupt

Online Tools and Technology for Improving Your Communication Technique

As you work to deal with different communication styles, it is important to start with an understanding of how you communicate with others. There are numerous tools, books, and other resources out there that can help you understand the communication style of the people around you.

There are also online courses available to help you improve your overall interpersonal skills. Coursera offers a program for improving your communication in person, via email, and while giving presentations. This program is ideal if you want to communicate better with your employees, bosses, clients, and partners.

Other online programs are offered by schools like the University of Washington, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Colorado. These short courses offer support with professional writing, presentation skills, and business communication.

If an employee has a submissive communication style, it can be difficult to express their thoughts in person. Sometimes, it is easier for the employee to say what they think in writing instead. Online collaboration tools like Toggl Plan can help these employees get the non-confrontational, open-minded environment they need to share their ideas. It will help you communicate details, develop systems, and get organized.

By understanding the five types of communication styles, you can learn the most effective ways of working with different types of people. This information helps you know how to react to certain people and situations. Over time, these techniques can help you reduce stress, avoid unnecessary conflicts, and improve your professional relationships.

For this knowledge to help you out, you also must be self-aware. Take some time to determine your own communication style. And once you know you’ve figured it out, you will be able to improve your strengths and minimize any weaknesses.

Want to learn more ways to improve as a manager? Be sure to check out our blog and see how you can better yourself as a leader.

Logan Derrick

Logan Derrick is a full-time business writer and content marketing strategist. For years, he has worked closely with several project management professionals, learning from them and increasing his own knowledge of the industry. Having held multiple management positions in fields ranging from customer service to marketing, Logan has found a passion for helping others learn about project management, marketing, and the powerful tools available to professionals today.

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