Team activity — Identify your communication styles

This team activity allows team members to think about their interaction styles when under stress.

Share on.articles

Time required

Approximately 25 minutes, depending on group size.


Send a link to Monitor your communication style to all participants and ask them to read this in advance and identify when they use each of the 4 communication styles. 

Suggested wording 

When placed in stressful or taxing situation, we often gravitate toward our own default style of communication. Even emotionally intelligent individuals may find that certain situations can prompt them to use a less helpful communication style. These responses can damage relationships and our team’s effectiveness. In today’s activity we’re learning about both ourselves and other’s communication styles and when and why these may show up. You were sent the descriptors of each of the 4 communication styles and asked to identify when you might use each of them. I’ll start with my answers and ask all of you to contribute yours. Let’s begin with passive behaviours which is when we don’t express what we’re actually feeling or thinking even when we have strong opinions about what’s being said or done.

[Some examples are given below or you can use your own.] 

I may use passive communication when I feel like my opinion will be dismissed or ridiculed. It may be easier to just keep my mouth shut. 

Now I’d like everyone else to share when you may use a passive communication style. 

[If doing this virtually, you can have participants put their answers in the chat. If doing it in a group that is more timid, you can have them write it on small pieces of paper without their names to hand in to be read. In a group that is more comfortable with each other, you can have each person share.] 

The next communication style is aggressive. An aggressive style is when I interrupt, speak loudly or talk over others. 

I may use aggressive communication when I’m frustrated, overwhelmed or feel like I’m not being understood. 

Now I’d like everyone else to share when you may use an aggressive communication style. 

The next communication style is passive-aggressive. A passive-aggressive style often uses non-verbal communication such as eye-rolling, heavy sighing or ignoring others. It can include deliberately frustrating or sarcastic verbal responses. 

I may use passive-aggressive communication when I feel unsafe or uncomfortable saying what I really think. I may fear rejection. 

Now I’d like everyone else to share when you may use a passive-aggressive communication style. 

The fourth communication style is assertive. This is when we’re open, straightforward and respectful when we communicate. Of course, this is the ideal and a sign of high emotional intelligence. But the reality is that none of us communicate in this way all the time. The purpose of this activity is for us to think objectively about why someone may be communicating in a way passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive. By understanding this about ourselves and why we might communicate that way, we can be less judgmental when others communicate in that way sometimes. 

A useful exercise going forward is to catch yourself communicating in any style other than assertive and look at the reasons that you’ve shared today so you can understand what might be motivating the communication style for you in that moment. 

Find more activities like this at Team building activities.

Contributors include.articlesDr. Joti SamraWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

Related articles.articles

Article tags.articles

Choose an option to filter.articles


To add a comment.comments