Communication is defined by many different terms, with four types commonly found in business environments. Communication style affects how any message is received and ultimately how someone is perceived. There are advantages and disadvantages of the different styles to keep in mind when dealing with co-workers, subordinates and consumers.

Passive Communication

Passive communicators tend to avoid conflict by refraining from regularly expressing feelings and opinions. This style is perceived by others as patient and easygoing but somewhat aloof. Passive communicators avoid eye contact and extended conversations. Though passive, individuals with this communication style may be prone to explosive outbursts after prolonged disappointment, frustration and criticism.

The advantage of this style of communication is that the individual is viewed as amiable and always concerned with others. Co-workers like to be around others who don't constantly make waves and agree to take on tasks without complaint. However, the outbursts are certainly negative. For the communicator, anxiety caused by growing but pent-up frustrations is another disadvantage. This type of communicator gives in to the ideas of others regularly and projects low self-esteem or self-worth.

Recognize this style through email responses that are succinct and cordial with no additional input.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communication is the opposite of passive communication. This style of communicator effectively states opinions and advocates for himself. This may be in leading a team or asking for a raise. Assertive communicators look you in the eye and are confident in conveying ideas. Managers, sales staff and communicators benefit the most from assertive communication.

Because an assertive communication style considers others' opinions and values both parties, it is the preferred communication style in business.

Aggressive Communication

The aggressive communicator is always advocating personal opinions, ideas and needs. Communication is both verbal and, at times, physical. Aggressive communication by leadership might overwhelm subordinates in the work environment. It also creates tension among team members who feel the communicator is always confrontational.

On the positive side, aggressive communicators know what they want and are willing to push forward regardless of adversity. This style suits a litigator more than an administrative assistant. Many salespeople are aggressive communicators, but they would be more successful with an assertive communication style.

Whether in email, memos or other work communication mediums, this communicator is telling others what to do and is argumentative if there is no buy-in.

Passive-Aggressive Communication

Passive-aggressive communication is not a desired style for the workplace because passive-aggressive individuals aren't truthful about their feelings and opinions. This style sabotages healthy working relationships and projects because passive-aggressive communicators appear to be passive in style but have a constant internal anger at others. Recognize this communication style by sarcastic remarks, whispered muttering of complaints and disruptive behaviors like using chat software to gossip about co-workers who are often in the same room.

This is a toxic communication style that needs to be dealt with in a business environment quickly to prevent strife throughout the team and clients or consumers.