The 4 Workplace Communication Styles that matter

May 30, 2022
Diya Mathur
Diya Mathur
Diya Mathur
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Communication styles, involving both verbal and non-verbal cues, play a dominant role in making or breaking a sale. Prospective customers will build their own perceptions based on the full spectrum of communication that is on display. The stuff that they call vibe is nothing but the end product of how you communicate.

So, what do you believe the decisive aspect is that makes or breaks a sale, and no, it isn't communication? It is one's attitude toward a deal that determines whether or not a sale will be completed. But what factors contribute to a positive mindset on the road to success? Effective communication, including the use of impactful visual aids such as sales deck examples! Sales reps will agree in the blink of an eye, on the importance of effective communication.

Sales reps will agree in the blink of an eye, on the importance of effective communication. Will a tactical shift in your communication style, based on the type of prospect you're working with, help you close the deal? Why not, right? Understanding the different sorts of communication can aid any sales representative in determining and selecting the optimal channel to engage the consumer with. The kind of pitch to make to entice a positive response.

Success within sales teams also hinges a lot on the mix of communication styles prevalent within the team and how well a sales manager harnesses each of these styles to strengthen the team. According to a survey done by The Economist, over 42% of respondents believed different communication styles within teams as the leading cause of miscommunication at work.

Based on several behavioral traits and responses communication among humans especially in a professional setting is broadly categorized into 4 main styles.

The 4 Workplace Communication Styles that matter

The Passive Communication Style

A passive style of communication involves giving in to the choices of others in a group or keeping the interest of another party ahead of their own interests or opinions.

The passive style of communication or people who mostly employ a passive style of communication is known to be emotionally dishonest, inhibited, apologetic and self-denying. All these words sound negative right? Yes, they are negative but does that make a person using the passive style of communication negative, not really. Passive style communicators might actually be the ones who are collecting all the information around a deal, ones that are evident and the ones that are not so conspicuous. They might be good observers, and feed their observations to decision-makers. As a sales rep, you have got to be careful in transacting with those who use a passive style of communication. A small slip up and it will cost you the deal.

Passive communicators will always heed others' opinions, choosing to express theirs only when forced or asked to. It is precisely this reason that makes them good observers. They are also known to get along well with most and are good at resolving conflicts. Another factor that a good sales rep should understand about passive communicators is, they find it relatively difficult to say “no”. This trait can be used by sales reps to their advantage.

The Passive Aggressive Communication Style

This style of communication, as you might have already rightly guessed, involves the display of passive communication with bursts of an aggressive style. Let's take a look at what that exactly translates to.

Passive Aggressive style of communication is typically engaged in by people who are predominantly passive while communicating but are really doing so out of anger or resentment. They are not really happy with the environment they are in and hold back from getting completely involved in a group activity or project. They are usually incapable of confronting the subject of their resentment and expressing their anger by undermining them.

Now how is this information of any help to sales folks? You may ask. Knowing this style of communication lets sales folks, especially the ones leading the team in some way or the other to identify such fellow teammates. They could use this information to help them out of their resentment by addressing the original reason for the same.

The Aggressive Communication Style

You will see this style of communication a lot in the millennial folks especially when stakes are high. An aggressive style of communication manifests itself in the open and fearless expression of feelings and opinions with scant regard for the rights or views of others in the team. You will typically have at least one in any given team. They are known to be verbally abusive. They use their aggressive communication to dominate and control others. They can be quite impulsive with their decisions and be quick to criticize, blame or attack others. Listening is one important skill they lack as they often don't see beyond themselves. They tend to use a lot of “I” or ”me” in their conversations. Knowing an aggressive style conversationalist will help you as a seller to pitch the sale appropriately. Maybe sellers can smartly and tactfully reaffirm the prospect’s opinions based on the features of the product exhibits. Sellers could maybe top on some offers to sweeten the deal, but again you cannot sell the shop to please a demanding and aggressive customer. It is a thin line to tread on and will only come with experience.

Sales folks within the team exhibiting an aggressive style of communication can be a big put-off for other team members. It is up to the sales manager to channel and manage this aggressive behavior into something that will benefit the team.

The Assertive Communication Style

Any person with an assertive communication style will express opinions and emotions with clarity while not going overboard with them. The assertive style of conversation allows its proponents to firmly advocate for their needs and rights while respecting the rights of others involved. While they get along well, they are not pushovers. They will stand up for what they believe in and voice out their opinions strongly. Like the folks who use an aggressive style of communication, the proponents of the assertive style of communication will also use “I” or 3

As long as their requirements are met, prospective customers using this communication style will usually bite into your pitch, without much of a hassle. Clarity is what they appreciate and expect the same in any sales pitch.


Knowing these communication styles not only lets sales folks pitch to their prospective customers better, but also identify such behavior in themselves or within the team.

Which behavior should sales reps attempt to emulate and exhibit? No prizes for guessing, it is undoubtedly the Assertive style. But the important thing to note here is, you cannot have a team full of reps who predominantly use an assertive communication style. You have to strike the right balance in every team and harness each one's strengths and support their weaknesses. If you would like to read more on diversity and inclusion, here is another interesting read from our archives Diversity and Inclusion in the Sales Workplace

And finally, if you are here to know more about the products that help you automate sales operations and keep your sales reps motivated, you take a quick look at Sales Performance Management and Incentive Compensation Management, two of our industry-accepted solutions that are independent tools but can work together seamlessly to help you build and nurture a highly productive sales team.


Diya Mathur

Diya is a Product Marketing Associate and content writer specializing in Incentive Compensation Automation. Diya has honed her ability to bridge the gap between intricate software functionalities and accessible, reader-friendly content. Her articles are a testament to her dedication to breaking down intricate SaaS solutions into digestible insights that cater to both tech-savvy professionals and those new to the software landscape.


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