How Communication Style Can Improve Your Management

As a manager, the way you express yourself matters. When you deliver your message effectively, you’ll be able to accomplish your pharmacy’s goals and gain the respect of your employees. 

But if you use the wrong type of communication, your employees will grow to resent you and productivity will take a nosedive. 

Good communication isn’t an innate skill, but with some practice, you can become an assertive and thoughtful manager who gets their message across clearly. 

Read more about the five most common communication styles to learn about your own habits and build better rapport with your staff.

Aggressive communication

The aggressive communication style turns every conversation into a competition — one with a winner and a loser. As you might guess, this communication style sets people on edge, and because of that, the message often doesn’t get through. Staff members are often so disturbed by the delivery that they can’t concentrate on the content. 

Aggressive communication is often delivered with an exclamation point. The communicator may speak with a loud voice and wear a scowl on their face. They also tend to adopt a physically intimidating posture by getting too close or standing over their conversation partner. 

Staff members on the receiving end of aggressive communication might fight back with their own aggressive attitude. They may attempt to sabotage their work because they want revenge for how they’ve been treated, or they may withdraw and stop taking initiative in the workplace because they feel humiliated. Aggressive communicators are rarely respected by their staff members. 

If you’re an aggressive communicator, problems may go unreported because staff members will be afraid of an explosive response. This means things that could be fixed easily will fester and cause even bigger problems down the line. 

Passive communication

Sometimes known as submissive communication, passive communicators will do almost anything to avoid conflict. They let others do most of the talking and never assert their own preferences. 

Hallmarks of passive communication are speaking softly, fidgeting, avoiding eye-contact, and hunched posture. 

In addition to deferring to others’ desires, passive communicators often refuse to take responsibility in the workplace or make any sort  of important decision. When things succeed, they won’t take credit, and when things fail, they will let the blame fall onto other people. 

As a manager, passive communication isn’t ideal. While wanting to please everyone is admirable, you need to confidently make decisions, even if those decisions will hurt someone’s feelings. 

Your staff members are likely to feel annoyed or frustrated if you won’t take a stand, or worse, they will take advantage of you because they know you won’t start an argument. 

Passive-aggressive communication

Occasionally, a communicator will use words that seem passive, but they actually have aggressive intentions. This is known as the passive-aggressive communication style. 

Passive-aggressive communicators will play nice while speaking directly to someone and then turn around and do things that are contrary to their spoken position. They often disguise their aggression with sarcasm, gossip, or complaints. 

While their words may mimic those of a passive communicator, their body language will be more like that of an aggressive communicator, getting in too close and speaking too loudly. 

A passive-aggressive manager will have a hard time building rapport with their employees because they will be viewed as untrustworthy or even cruel. 

Manipulative communication 

Managers who set out to control others or take advantage of people are known as manipulative communicators. These people often have an ulterior motive and they will take underhanded action in order to achieve it. 

Manipulative communicators will attempt to elicit certain responses through their behavior. For example, they might sulk in order to get their way, or even resort to crying so that others feel sorry for them. 

When they speak, they might take a condescending tone and use an artificially high-pitched voice. They rarely ask for what they need directly. Instead, manipulative communicators may ask for something related and then creatively interpret the answer so they get their way. Sometimes, they’ll deploy “puppy dog eyes” to make it more difficult for people to say no to them. 

Understandably, employees who have a manipulative communicator for a boss are likely to feel annoyed angry. They will be frustrated by having to spend time figuring out what their boss really means, and they might feel insecure in their position because it can be impossible to know if their work is up to snuff. 

Assertive communication

If you use passive communication, you probably won’t get results, but aggressive communication can backfire by making your employees resentful of you. 

The sweet spot between them is known as assertive communication. It’s the communication style that you should strive for. Assertive communicators can acknowledge other’s emotions while still directly asking for what they need. 

To be an assertive communicator, strive for balance when you speak. Don’t speak too quietly or too softly, and strive to keep a consistent speed. 

Be aware of your body language. Stand up straight and keep fidgeting to a minimum. Make consistent eye contact and don’t close off your posture by crossing your arms across your chest.  

Be direct, but kind. Don’t hedge when offering criticism, but keep negative feedback respectful and offer suggestions or solutions. Give your staff members ample opportunity to ask questions and express their opinions, and be patient and thoughtful when responding.

Assertive communicators are seen as trustworthy and reliable. When staff members receive criticism from an assertive communicator, it’s easier to accept, and when staff are complimented, they will feel an exceptional amount of pride. 


A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.


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