As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired, Is Your Communication Style Passive, Aggressive, or Assertive?

Do you find yourself getting walked over far too frequently? Do others see you as a doormat or pushover? Perhaps you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and you often demand your way. Maybe you don’t quite know where you fit on the continuum.

Situations arise daily involving the opportunity to assert one’s concerns, rights, or desires. Examples include verbalizing a request, attempting to correct an error, giving an honest opinion, and saying “no” to a request. Three of the most common styles of communicating the above are:

  • Assertive communication, which emphasizes being honest, direct, kind, and respectful.
  • Passive communication, which downplays your desires and avoids disagreements or conflict.
  • Aggressive communication, which makes demands and does not respect others.
  • Which communication style do you think you use most often? Read through the following examples and note which comes most naturally to you. Note your style may vary depending on the context.

    Your new boss asks if your work environment is accessible. There are several improvements you would like to suggest. Do you:

    • Say that the accessibility is adequate? (Passive)
    • Thank her for asking and tell her that you have a few ideas that would improve accessibility? (Assertive)
    • Tell her that she needs to take care of your list of improvements immediately and imply that you can’t be expected to fulfill your work responsibilities in a place with such terrible accessibility. (Aggressive)
    • Your boyfriend or girlfriend answers questions on your behalf in public. You want to demonstrate your capability and confidence by addressing others directly. Do you:

      • Ignore the issue? (Passive)
      • Explain in private that you would prefer speaking for yourself to demonstrate your competence as an individual who is blind or visually impaired? (Assertive)
      • Attack him or her in public for the behavior? (Aggressive)

      A friend offers his rave review of a new restaurant you don’t like. He asks your opinion. Do you:

      • Tell him you like it? (Passive)
      • Kindly say you’re not a fan? (Assertive)
      • Demean him for enjoying the food? (Aggressive)

      You ordered chicken parmesan at a nice, sit-down restaurant, but were accidentally served shrimp scampi. You don’t like seafood. Do you:

      • Ignore the error and eat the dish you were served? (Passive)
      • Tell the waiter about the error and explain that you’d like to wait for the correct order? (Assertive)
      • Demand the server correct the mistake immediately? (Aggressive)

      As you likely noticed throughout the examples, assertive communication demonstrates respect for yourself and others. In assertive communication, fact- or feelings-based statements are made without blaming. A willingness to negotiate is demonstrated until both parties are comfortable, if at all possible.

      The benefits of assertive communication include feeling empowered, utilizing the ability to communicate honestly, and taking care of youself while respecting others.

      If you are a teacher or professional working with youth who are blind or visually impaired, utilize CareerConnect’s Assertiveness Training series of lesson plans. In addition, take the opportunity to follow the CareerConnect Blog to get notifications about new posts.