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Passive communication: what it is and how to recognize it in 4 characteristics

Passive communication: what it is and how to recognize it in 4 characteristics

June 12, 2024

Communication can be established in many different ways. After all, the needs, preferences and overall personality patterns of people greatly influence the way we express ideas, beliefs and feelings. Passive communication is an example of this .

In this article we will see what are the characteristics of this type of communication, how it is expressed, what are its drawbacks and how it is possible to improve in this aspect.

  • Related article: "The 3 styles of communication, and how to recognize them"

What is passive communication?

A summary and simple definition of what is passive communication is the following: a communicative pattern characterized by the avoidance of entering into direct confrontation with others through the expressed.


So, it is part of a dynamic of relationships with others in which there is barely any assertiveness and the feeling of vulnerability prevails .

Its basic characteristics

Next we review the fundamental characteristics of passive communication.

1. Nonverbal language maintaining a low profile

What is said does not take on a meaning by attending only to the phrases and words used, but also to consider how it is said. And more specifically, the nonverbal language that accompanies the message transmitted verbally .

In the case of passive communication, a nonverbal communication style that expresses submission prevails: avoidance of the gaze of the other or low look, tone of voice somewhat lower than that of the other, defensive posture, etc.


  • Maybe you're interested: "Assertiveness: 5 basic habits to improve communication"

2. Frequent use of an impersonal perspective

There are certain opinions and points of view that people who adopt passive communication do express, but if they believe that they are slightly problematic because they involve things that cause discomfort for the listener, they often use an impersonal tone instead of a first person .

For example, to ask for repairs to be made in the office, we will not talk about the damage that the fact that the fault causes for oneself, but rather the presentation of the problem will be of the style "it would be good if the fault were repaired. " It is a use of the liability that corresponds to the concept of passive communication.

3. Avoidance of direct confrontation and use of euphemisms

Another characteristic of passive communication is that it does not directly show that there is a clash of ideas or interests. Instead, in the event that there is indeed a mismatch of opinions or needs, is expressed in a supposedly neutral manner , as if all the parties involved in the conversation were really looking for a solution that is beneficial for everyone, even when that is not really the case.


For example, if two people opt for the same position, it can be said that both "look for their place in the company".

4. Avoidance of the expression of feelings

People who fit the typical pattern of passive communication tend not to talk about their feelings as if they were part of the argument that supports their claims, even when they are relevant to the subject. In these cases, once again, a type of impersonal type of speech is used.

The disadvantages of this behavior pattern

As we have seen, in passive communication there is a clear lack of assertiveness. As a consequence of this, several consequences can occur mainly.

Or misunderstandings appear, since there is a part of the information that is not being revealed even though it is important, or else the person who maintains the passive communication sees how their needs are not met and their interests are not taken into account . This second case also has negative repercussions derived from this situation.

In particular, the fact of not expressing one's needs and feelings leads to psychological (and often also physical) wear, if it leads to more effort to achieve total or partial satisfaction of a need. As time passes, passive communication promotes the accumulation of frustrations, reasons for resentment and malaise in general .

Eventually, it is possible that all this triggers psychological crises, or even outbursts of anger that conflict with the tendency to maintain a low profile that characterizes passive communication.When this happens, it is difficult to maintain a correct emotional regulation, and it is possible not only to compromise one's well-being, but also to damage personal relationships or to blame people who are not responsible for what happened.

In general, passive communication Feeds the maintenance of low self-esteem , since it helps to perpetuate a dynamic of submission to the rest.

  • Related article: "Low self-esteem? When you become your worst enemy"

What can be done to improve the communicative style?

Although it may seem that passive communication serves to avoid conflicts, in reality this is not the case, because without assertiveness there is always one party that is harmed, while there is another that is accustomed to making their interests prevail. That's why it's worth leaving the passive communication style. To achieve this, it is good to follow the following tips.

  • Avoid unnecessary apology .
  • Compare the importance of one's own needs and those of others.
  • Find contexts in which to speak of one's feelings is objectively useful.
  • Find formulas for start using assertiveness in relationships .

How to Identify Passive Aggressive Traits and Behavior (June 2024).


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