To say that communication is a key pillar to a healthy relationship might be underselling its importance. Without communication in a relationship, you can’t build trust or intimacy, and without those, you can’t call it a relationship. Love is founded on the basic principles of trust and intimacy and aided by open communication. But not everyone knows how to effectively and healthily communicate in a relationship. Like love languages, there are many different types and styles of communication. To set yourself up for success in your relationships, you should try to understand those different styles and, in this case, the aggressive communication style.
There are four basic communication styles: passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive. They all have their nuisance, and each style has a different impact on the individual and relationships.
Aggressive communication is probably the easiest to point out of the major communication styles. It’s the most abrasive and in-your-face communication style. People who are aggressive communicators express themselves, their needs, and their opinions in a forceful way that violates other people’s autonomy. Not to say that other communication styles aren’t abusive in some ways, but aggressive communication can present as emotionally or physically abusive in the classic sense. Aggressive communication takes on the high school bully trope you find in movies, and it is toxic and only leads to fear, hatred, and miscommunications.
Aggressive communicators often:
- Try to overpower or dominate others.
- Speak in a loud and overbearing tone of voice.
- Use humiliation as a tool of manipulation.
- Use “you” statements instead of “I” statements. Placing the blame on their partner instead of accepting any fault.
- Speak over those they argue with and frequently interrupt them.
- Hardly listen to others.
Aggressive communication impact:
- Distance themselves from others, or others will distance themselves from the aggressive communicator.
- Blame others instead of owning up to their own mistakes and faults.
- Cause others to fear or hate them.
Most of us have dealt with aggressive communication in the past. Of course, the degree of aggressiveness might defer for all of us, but still, the idea is there. The most readily accessible example I can think of from my life is sports. Growing up in South Florida is like growing up in the Wild West. I think about all of the loud arguments that led to shoving or fistfights on the basketball court because someone was running their mouth. (It was me who was usually the one running their mouth. I was such a cocky little twerp back in the day. And mom, if you are reading this, no, you are not.)
Aggressive communication is the toxic twin of assertive communication. You should always stand up for yourself and enforce your boundaries, but not at the expense of violating others. It’s human nature to point the finger and blame someone else when you are partially responsible for a mistake. It takes humility to own up to our faults, and swallowing our pride is easier for some than it is for others. But learning to do so can be the difference between a toxic form of communication and standing up for yourself while remaining respectful of others.