Do You Use Passive Communication?

December 13, 2019
Do you think that you use passive communication? Do you have low self-esteem? Find out in this article.

Statistics show us that many people practice passive communication. We may even do it ourselves, even though we’ll never have defined it that way. The fact here is that we’re talking about a communicative style that’s quite harmful to us. It can also affect those around us. In addition to that, it has a negative impact on our self-esteem and prevents us from relating to others in a healthy and appropriate way.

Passive communication is when people don’t defend their rights. They maintain a distant posture and yield to other people’s demands, ignoring their own needs at the same time.

Passive communication and the fear of confrontation

Some studies suggest that passive communication may be motivated by the need to please others. This is true, but there are also other reasons, such as a lack of social skills or a fear of conflict.

People who communicate in this way may have been experienced constant censorship or restrictions in their upbringing. Even if the person who imposed the restrictions is no longer there, they have still left their mark. Because of this, these people have never really been able to express their opinions or needs. As a result, they feel insecure.

In addition to this, if they’ve received very strong criticism in their past, then the echo of those voices may still haunt them. Because of that, they continue to fall prey to insecurity.

What they may experience in these crucial moments is a sense of helplessness:

  • “Why don’t the words come out?”
  • “Why do I doubt and hesitate?”
  • “Tell me why my mind is paralyzed and prevents me from thinking clearly!”

The reason is that there’s a disproportionate fear of confrontation, criticism, and judgment.

“The task we must set for ourselves isn’t to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”

-Erich Fromm-

A mother shouting at her child.

Examples of passive communication

Perhaps everything we’ve said so far has been very familiar to us. However, let’s have a look at some clear examples of what passive communication is. We’ll also see how it manifests itself in everyday life.

  • You go to a restaurant and ask the waiter to please make sure your steak is very well done. When they bring it to you, it’s not as well done as you wanted it to be. However, you don’t say a thing. When the waiter asks you how the food was, you tell them that it was very good, even if it wasn’t.
  • Your friends plan to do something for the weekend and they’re deciding where to go. What you always do is wait for someone else to propose an idea, and then you say “Yes, that’s a great idea”. The same happens in every similar type of situation. You’re incapable of suggesting anything and you expect others to do it for you.
  • A classmate asks you if you can lend them your notes. This person always does the same thing, and never bothers to take notes in class, and just talks to other classmates or doodles in notebooks. In spite of this, you’re incapable of saying no.
A woman covering her eyes.

More examples

For another example, let’s imagine that you wanted to study a certain career because you really liked it. However, one of your parents said you couldn’t and made you feel bad if you didn’t do what they wanted. And so, even if they later change their mind, it often doesn’t make any difference. You’ve already given in to their initial desire and you feel the need to please them. After all, they’re the people who have given you the most opportunities in life.

This can happen in different circumstances, such as wanting to go to another country to study another language, going to a party, or staying over at a friend’s house. If you’ve been manipulated and haven’t had the opportunity to defend your rights in childhood, in adulthood, your default attitude will be passive communication with other people.

Behind this scenario, there’s usually a total lack of self-esteem. It’s so damaged that you’re incapable of seeing that you’re perfectly able to make good decisions and assert your rights more often than you do.

If this is you, the next step is to ask for professional help. They’ll give you the necessary tools to stop being a passive communicator and to start being assertive. This won’t happen overnight, but you will see progress that will encourage you to keep going.