Our communication style is an important interpersonal factor that we often consider in the workplace. It’s equally important in all of our relationships but especially in our romantic relationships. The way we communicate with others affects how we are heard and how the other person responds.
The way we communicate with our partner in relationships determines our connection, trust, commitment, and conflict.
Communication Style Quiz
If you are curious about what your communication style is, take this short quiz:
Right before bed, you see the dishes haven’t been done but you’ve just cooked dinner and are tired. You are more likely to:
Do the dishes even though you wish your partner would.
Let your partner know you are feeling tired after cooking and would like it if they helped you do the dishes.
Yell at them about how they don’t appreciate you cooking dinner and are lazy for not cleaning up.
Your partner spends a lot of money on a surprise for you. You are feeling stressed about the budget. You are more likely to:
Go along with it and don’t say anything about the budget.
Thank your partner and ask to have a discussion about your budget concerns.
Tell them it was inconsiderate and irresponsible to spend that much money.
Your birthday is coming up and you have expectations for the gift your partner will get you and how you will celebrate. You are more likely to:
Hope they can read your mind and meet your expectations.
Tell them your expectations and what you would like.
Wait to see what they do and express anger and disappointment that they didn’t do enough for you.
You are interested in being intimate with your partner. You are more likely to:
Set the mood with a candle or music and hope your partner picks up on the cues.
Ask your partner if they are interested in sex and start with a kiss.
Grab your partner in a sexual way and assume they want to have sex.
If your answers were mostly "1," you have a more passive communication style with your partner. You may avoid conflict or keep things in so you don’t upset your partner. You may often feel alone or disappointed because your partner doesn’t know how you feel. This can be stonewalling as you don’t open up to your partner.
If your answers were mostly "2," you have a more assertive communication style with your partner. It’s important for you to express your feelings and have open communication even if it isn’t always easy. You feel comfortable expressing your needs in the relationship.
If your answers were mostly "3," you have more of an aggressive communication style with your partner. You may use criticism or even contempt and can probably be defensive. You may struggle with emotional flooding and feel like your fuse is short.
You may be wondering what the best way to communicate is. Assertive communication has been a long-time frontrunner in communication styles for its ability to respect others while expressing your feelings and needs. Being passive prohibits you from expressing yourself and can cause a lot of negative emotions and poor communication. If you are aggressive, it can hurt your partner and cause more conflict in your relationship.
Some things you can do to be more assertive in communicating in your relationship are the following:
Express your feelings to your partner using a gentle startup; “I am feeling stressed after cooking dinner and seeing a pile of dishes. I would appreciate it if you could load the dishwasher so I can relax.”
Talk about big things in your relationship even when it’s hard; “I really appreciate the surprise, but I’d like to set aside time to talk about our budget to make sure we aren’t overspending.”
Make sure you let your partner know what your needs and expectations are: “I’d really like to have a party with our friends on the weekend of my birthday. Can you plan that for me as a gift?”
Talk openly about sex and share your likes and dislikes.
As always, if you are struggling with communication in your relationship, couples counseling can be a great tool to use. Having a third party can help when you haven’t been able to improve your communication on your own.