What Is Aggressive Communication?

Many With Social Anxiety Rely on Aggressive Communication to Express Themselves

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If you have social anxiety, you may have suppressed your own needs for so long that you end up resorting to aggressive communication. Aggressive communication is a method of expressing needs and desires that do not take in to account the welfare of others. A harmful communication style, aggressive communication can end up worsening social anxiety by making others view you more harshly.

What is Aggressive Communication?

You stand up for yourself in a way that in inappropriate and can violate the needs of others.

You may find that people seem exhausted, overwhelmed or drained after talking with you in an aggressive state. Some people establish their superiority through aggressive communication by putting others down in comparison.

Verbal characteristics of aggressive communication include sarcasm, a harsh tone of voice and condescending statements like "How could you think that was a good idea?" or "Don't be stupid." Nonverbal cues of aggressive communication include intruding into someone's personal space, aggressive gestures like pointing or clenched fists, sneering and smirking.

Why is Aggressive Communication Harmful?

In the moment, aggressive communication can feel very satisfying, particularly if you have social anxiety and are used to not speaking up. You may get your way from bullying others and it may give you a sense of power and control. However, aggressive communication is likely to result in enemies and hurt relationships with loved ones.

After you have hurt someone you care about, you may feel shame or guilt. This can inhibit your social skills and make future social situations much more difficult for you.

What is a Better Way to Communicate?

Rather than depending on the anger and bluster of assertive communication, many people with social anxiety find it beneficial to learn assertive communication skills.

In assertive communication, you convey your needs openly and honestly, but without impeding the needs of others. Instead of harsh tone and aggressive gestures, verbal characteristics of assertive communication include a firm but relaxed tone and the use of "I" statements like, "I was hurt when you ignored me." Assertive communication respects personal space and does not use yelling or intimidation.

In assertive communication, you listen respectfully to truly hear the other person. The more you stand up for yourself without harming others in the process, the more your self-esteem will grow. With social anxiety, it's common to let anger build up. But with assertive communication, you address things calmly in the moment so that resentment does not develop.

Learning to progress from aggressive communication to assertive communication can be a difficult process. Many with social anxiety find that a skilled therapist with experience in anxiety disorders can me a huge help. Your healthcare provider can help you identify situations where you rely on aggressiveness and will help you form strategies on how to combat the desire to respond aggressively.

Together, you will work on developing assertive communication skills and will practice different situations so you are prepared to handle them appropriately. Over time, you will be able to assert yourself firmly but responsibly, without harming others through force or intimidation. This can be a major step forward in your social anxiety treatment plan.

Source:

Paterson, R. he Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and In Relationships, 2000. 

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