Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
As a therapist, a great deal of my time is spent in helping people to find their voice. There is a very real difference between having a voice, making a noise and ensuring that you are being heard.
The quality of our communication literally speaks volumes about how we feel about ourselves and what we expect to receive from the world.
Many of us get confused between assertiveness and aggressiveness and what confuses the issue more is when we are frightened of those two forms of communication we can slip into passive communication.
Passive communication is kind of a round about way of protecting ourselves from drawing criticism or being seen as pushy. What it does do potentially is turns us into door mats.
So lets check it out and see if you are guilty of putting yourself in such a position by communicating passively.
Unsplash Ashley Batz
Passive communicators are guilty of the following
• Not expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs honestly
• Violating your own rights, and the rights of others by assuming the other person won't be able to handle their disappointments, take responsibility or handle their own problems
The following speech patterns are passive
• Long rambling sentences, beats around the bush, hesitant – filled with pauses
• Uses phrases such as, "If it wouldn’t be too much trouble..." fill in words, such as, "maybe", "er", "um", "sort of"... apologies, such as, "I’m terribly sorry to bother you", "It’s only my opinion" or "I might be wrong", "It's not important" or "It doesn’t matter", "I’m useless", "I’m hopeless" or "You know me"!
The body language of the passive person
• Avoids eye contact ,wrings the hands
• Laughing when expressing anger, covers the mouth, crosses the arms,lip biting
The underlying thoughts of the passive communicator.
• My feelings, needs and thoughts are less important than your's, people will not like me
• If I say no, someone might get upset and I will be responsible
There are some possible pay offs for being so damn agreeable.
• Praise for being such a selfless person or avoiding blame for when things go wrong
• Others will protect and look after you
• Avoid/postpone or hide conflict in the short term, so that we can feel less anxious
The problem side of not communicating and sublimating your needs. Yes there is always a down side!
• Built up of stress and anger can lead to an emotional explosion
• Others will take you for granted and ask more and more from you
• You become stuck in relationships that aren’t meeting your needs and then don’t know how to get out of them, you become what you think other people want you to be so they will love you
• All that unexpressed anger has to go somewhere and your self esteem plummets
So the old "It is easier not to say anything" doesn't ring true after all.
Unsplash Glen Carrie
The truth of it is - if you are not able to express your needs because the people around you don't want to hear, can't hear, don't make it safe to do so or you believe that to do so will lead to you not having friends or relationships then it is time to reflect on that.
No relationship of any quality will require you to put yourself down to participate in it.
It might just be time for you to find your voice.
The voice that will lead to you being heard.
The voice that will lead you to improved relationships with self and others.