Passive Communication

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Passive Communication is a style in which individuals intentionally or unintentionally develop a pattern of switching themselves to indifference where by sitting on back burner avoid true feelings to be expressed, slip off their rights, lets others to identify their needs and drive their thoughts the way they want. They usually born with low self-esteem and believe: ‘I’m not worth taking care of.’

In account of their pessimistic approach to life, they do not respond appropriately to hurting or anger-inducing situations and allow grievances and annoyances to mount up within. With the passage of time, their tolerance level reaches beyond certain level of threshold and prone to explosive outbursts. Any evident can trigger fatal reactions, which in turn may make them, feel ashamed, guilty, confused and more passive.

 Passive communicators often:

     ü  Fail to make other feel their importance in their lives.

ü  Allow others to deliberately or inadvertently infringe on their rights.

ü  Unable to express their inner feelings and needs or opinions.

ü  Tend to be dominated by the views of others.

ü  Exhibit confusion, poor eye contact and slumped body posture.

 The impact of a pattern of passive communication is that these individuals:

      ü  Are often pessimistic, as life seems of getting out of their control.

ü  Are often depressed and hopeless, as they see no way out of their problems.

ü  Are often seemed resentful for inability of being expressive to their feelings and needs.

ü  Are often seemed to immature in addressing to their real issues of life.

 A passive communicator often says or believes:

      ü  “I’m unable to stand up for my rights.” 

ü  “I don’t know what my rights are.” 

ü  “I get stepped on by everyone.”

ü  “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself.”

ü  “People never consider my feelings.”

 Passive communication is based on compliance and hopes to avoid confrontation at all costs. In this mode we don’t talk much, question even less, and actually do very little. We just don’t want to rock the boat. Passives have learned that it is safer not to react and better to disappear than to stand up and be noticed.

Passivity stems with years of allowing others to dominate oneself and violating his/her basic rights. Such kind of behaviour proves to be fatal when one confronts with real life situations, where one has to be assertive, quick decision maker and responsive.  The guilt of being unable to appropriately respond in certain situations dismantles the personality within so deeply that it leads sometimes to extreme behavioural patterns, either acute depressive or extreme assertive near to self-disruptive stubbornness. 

Sometimes, certain situations demand passive communication:

ü  When an issue is minor;

ü  When the problems caused by the conflict are greater than the conflict itself;

ü  When emotions are running high and it makes sense to take a break in order to calm down and regain perspective;

ü  When your power is much lower than the other party’s;

ü  When the other’s position is impossible to change for all practical purposes (i.e., government policies, etc.).

 Elements of the Passive Style:

  1. Mottoes and Beliefs:

ü  “Don’t express your true feelings.”

ü  “Don’t make waves.”

ü  “Don’t disagree.”

ü  “Others have more rights than I do.”

  1. Communication Style:

ü  Indirect

ü  Always agrees

ü  Doesn’t speak up

ü  Hesitant

  1. Characteristics:

ü  Apologetic, self-conscious

ü  Trusts others, but not self

ü  Doesn’t express own wants and feelings

ü  Allows others to make decisions for self

ü  Doesn’t get what he or she wants

  1. Behaviors:

ü  Sighs a lot

ü  Tries to sit on both sides of the fence to avoid conflict

ü  Clams up when feeling treated unfairly

ü  Asks permission unnecessarily

ü  Complains instead of taking action

ü  Lets others make choices

ü  Has difficulty implementing plans

ü  Self-effacing

  1. Nonverbal Cues:

ü  Fidgets

ü  Nods head often; comes across as pleading

ü  Lack of facial animation

ü  Smiles and nods in agreement

ü  Downcast eyes

ü  Slumped posture

ü  Low volume, meek

ü  Up talk

ü  Fast, when anxious; slow, hesitant, when doubtful

  1. Verbal Cues:

ü  “You should do it.”

ü  “You have more experience than I do.”

ü  “I can’t……”

ü  “This is probably wrong, but…”

ü  “I’ll try…”

ü  Monotone, low energy

  1. Confrontation and Problem Solving:

ü  Avoids, ignores, leaves, postpones

ü  Withdraws, is sullen and silent

ü  Agrees externally, while disagreeing internally

ü  Expends energy to avoid conflicts that are anxiety provoking

ü  Spends too much time asking for advice, supervision

ü  Agrees too often

  1. Feelings Felt:

ü  Powerlessness

ü  Wonders why doesn’t receive credit for good work

ü  Chalks lack of recognition to others’ inabilities

  1. Effects:

ü  Gives up being him or herself

ü  Builds dependency relationships

ü  Doesn’t know where he or she stands

ü  Slowly loses self esteem

ü  Promotes others’ causes

ü  Is not well-liked


There are certain ways of dealing with passive communication:

ü  Allowing one to know him/her well (strengths and weaknesses of personality).

ü  Becoming appropriately responsive to certain situations so others can not let go him/her unconcern while making important decisions.

ü  Believing in one’s ability to safeguard his/her rights.

ü  Taking risks and confronting challenging situations.

ü  Passionate to deal with inner complexities.

ü  Releasing pent up feelings and open minded to change.

Passive communication needs to be effectively dealt with the process of self-actualisation, where one knows his/her strengths and weaknesses to confront the complex situations. Passive communicators need to be assertive not aggressive so that they can adjust perfectly to the society they live in.

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