chapter caucus

Team Building Skills

Communication Style

Communication styles vary by person and the situation. Understanding your style and being aware of other styles of communication will help you communicate with others. Researchers have identified three basic communication styles:

There are many tests you can take to identify your communication style, and most cost money. To get an idea of your communication style, review the descriptions below. Choose which list describes you in most workplace situations.

Aggressive Passive Assertive
  • All people should be just like me
  • I am never wrong
  • Does not listen
  • Cannot see other people's views
  • Meets goals, at any expense
  • Bosses and bullies
  • Puts others down
  • Extremely intense
  • Rarely appreciates others
  • Holds self in a rigid manner
  • Fast speech
  • Glares and scowls
  • Often loud tone of voice
  • Uses "should" a lot
  • Could be verbally abusive
  • Attacks in order to win
  • Sees everything as win or lose
  • Hide your feelings
  • Don't make waves
  • Never disagree
  • Will not speak up
  • Hesitates
  • Apologetic
  • No self-confidence
  • Others make decisions
  • Avoids conflict
  • Shuts down if threatened
  • Seeks permission
  • Shy and withdrawn
  • Nods in agreement
  • Slumped posturing
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Quiet speech
  • Low energy
  • Encourages others to complete tasks
  • Takes a negative approach to accomplishing task
  • Uses avoidance tactics
  • Withdraws
  • Everyone is valuable
  • I do not need to always win
  • Excellent listener
  • No judgments
  • Is direct
  • Enthusiastic
  • Self-confident
  • Very open
  • Sense of humor
  • Decisive
  • Realistic expectations
  • Consistent and fair
  • Able to see options and solutions
  • Direct eye contact
  • Relaxes posture
  • Rate of speech varies
  • Normal volume
  • Considers options and alternatives
  • Negotiates with others
  • Deals with conflict as it happens

From the three lists, the assertive style is the best for effective communication. Remember that hardly anyone uses one style all the time. There are times when another style is required, for example during emergency situations the aggressive style would be appropriate. Situations where a passive style would be appropriate are when someone has more power or emotions are at a peek and order is needed.


To build an effective team, you must understand what each person brings to the team: the skills, strengths, and motivations. As much as possible, the individual characteristics should complement each other.

Team dynamics and individual attitudes become very important to the team's success. It is important to recognize individual leadership and communication styles, too.

Your Communication Style

  • Are you aware that the message you hear may not be the one the person meant to send?
  • Do you know that the words you choose may not mean the same thing to the receiver as they do to you?
  • Do you think about the receiver of your message before sending it to determine the affect it will have on him or her?
  • Do you watch body language to evaluate the impact of your message?
  • Do you avoid using jargon, especially when the receiver might not understand it?
  • Do you try not to use words that will intentionally distract or annoy the receiver?
  • Do you know that how you speak your words is as important as the actual words you say?
  • When you have something to say, are you honest about needing to say it?
  • In your communications, do you try to be short and to the point?
  • Do you think about the format for sending your message and whether written, telephone, e-mail, or one-to-one would be the best format?

Next section:  Successful Teams

Team Building Skills
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Velda Arnaud, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Lead, Educate, Serve Society

Last updated 10/4/14 (va)
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