4 Common Communication Styles In Love Relationships

Communication Styles


The odds are pretty high that you and your spouse or partner communicate differently.

One of you likes to handle things right away. The other needs to sit on it a while. You prefer to talk through the issue, and your partner wants to think through it first, then talk.

Sometimes it feels like you speak two different languages.

But did you know that you and your partner can communicate differently and still have a healthy, happy relationship?

Healthy communication doesn't require that you share information or handle conflict exactly the same way. In fact, it's often our differences that make us more interesting, even more attractive to another person.

Positive and productive communication between couples is more about mutual respect and a mutual desire to make sure the each person feels heard and understood.

It’s about talking and listening in a way that is kind, flexible, and considerate.

Different communication styles only become a problem when the partners don’t accept and respect their differences and fail to accommodate one another.

When one partner views their own style as the “right way” and the other person’s style as the “wrong way,” then you’ve reached an impasse before you even begin talking.

Most couples do have different communication styles. Gender, age, upbringing, education, cultural differences, personality type, past relationship history, and many other factors come in to play when it comes to how we communicate.

One of the best ways to improve your relationship is by learning more about your partner’s style, as well as your own.

Accepting that one communication style isn’t necessarily better than another is the first step in learning how to communicate better with each other, which will make your relationship better in general.

Both partners must be willing to bend and adjust a bit to differing ways of communicating, as long as you are both respectful.

This doesn’t mean you should bend to accept yelling, criticism, or manipulation in everyday discourse or even conflict. For now, we’re discussing how you prefer to share and receive information through language — your conversational style.

Here are 4 common communication styles you should know:

1. Amplifier and Condenser

A common communication difference is the style of the “amplifier” and that of the “condenser.”

These terms were coined by author and psychologist Dr. Norman Wright who says an amplifier is “someone who communicates by sharing what they have to say in great volumes of details.”

A condenser is one “who is most comfortable sharing little more than what is absolutely necessary.”

He goes on to say that, “Amplifiers give a number of descriptive sentences as they talk, while condensers give one or two sentences. In approximately 70 percent of marriages, the man is the condenser and the woman is the amplifier.” You may recognize yourself and your partner as one of these types of communicators.

As an amplifier, you may feel frustrated that your condenser spouse doesn’t talk more about thoughts and feelings and doesn’t share enough detail. You may feel isolated or cut out.

A condenser may feel overwhelmed and flooded with all of the information the amplifier shares. Too many words feels distracting and unnecessary.

The solution: Amplifiers can practice abbreviating their thoughts and explanations when they verbalize them to their condenser partner.

They can write out their thoughts and extract the key points to verbalize, or talk it out with another amplifier before conversing with their condenser partner.

Condensers can make more of an effort to verbalize thoughts and feelings with the amplifier partner, knowing that sharing more will create connection and intimacy.

2. Competitive and Affiliative

Another communication style difference is “competitive versus affiliative.” If you have a more affiliative style, you to want to bring people together to work out problems.

When a decision needs to be made, you're likely to bring your partner into the decision-making process and ask his or her opinion before you decide.

If you are an affiliative communicator, you tend to prefer a more collaborative style of communication. You may see direct challenges and open disagreements as too aggressive and hostile.

A competitive communicator is more oriented toward power, competition, and dominance in their communication style. Their conversations tend to be more assertive and challenging, and they prefer to make decisions on their own without much or any input from others.

The solution: Affiliative communicators can feel wounded when they aren't offered the same cooperative communication process by their partner.

They should ask their competitive partners in advance of a discussion to share and discuss an issue in a more harmonious way.

Even so, the competitive partner's natural reaction is to be assertive and singularly decisive, so understanding and acceptance of this style can help ease any sting.

The competitive partner will do well to temper his or her natural desire to go it alone and openly challenge their partner. They can learn to listen and invite feedback before expressing their thoughts, even if it feels like a waste of time.

3. Direct and Indirect

There are two basic ways spouses communicate what they need: either directly or indirectly.

One of you might be very direct, and when you want, need, or feel something, you have no problem coming right out and saying it.

The direct partner might say, “I want you to quit your job and find one that pays more.” There is little room for misunderstanding with this statement.

However, one of you might be more indirect and will hold back on saying exactly what you want, need, or feel.

You might say it in a more round-about, vague way. For example, this partner might say, “I’m wondering if there’s a job out there that might pay you more.”

This example is nothing more than a statement without conveying a need or a want. Your partner could just as easily miss the underlying message you’re trying to convey.

Read Related: 10 Good Communication Skills You Must Know

Depending on the situation, we all use both direct and indirect forms of communication, but most people lean toward one style or another.

Direct communicators are rarely misunderstood, but they can risk offending their partners. Indirect communicators rarely offend, but there is more risk for misunderstanding.

When these two different communicators are in a relationship, there’s greater opportunity for tension and stress.

The solution: Direct communicators need to remember that their words can potentially wound or offend their partner.

If they are communicating about a sensitive topic, they should choose their words carefully and maybe run them by another less direct person before sharing them with their partner.

Being too direct or using less-than-kind words (even if not intended to wound) can shut down communication.

The partner who is more indirect needs to learn how to say exactly what they mean without beating around the bush.

This may feel uncomfortable for someone who doesn't like to put it all out there, but with practice, you can learn how to speak your mind without being harsh or insensitive.

4. Hot and Cold

During conflict or serious conversations, there are often two ways you will approach the situation. The partner who uses a “hot style” wants to engage right away, to put the issue out there and get it done.

If the problem isn’t resolved immediately, this partner feels anxious, distressed or preoccupied.

The partner with the “cold style” doesn’t do well with this intense and immediate approach. He or she needs time to think things through, but not in the heat of the moment.

This partner prefers to halt the conversation and return to it later after reflection and a cooling off period.

The solution: The hot style communicator fells immense pressure to relieve the tension, but he or she can learn to step back, take a deep breath, and give the other partner time to process their emotions.

The cold style communicator needs to respect how much anxiety it creates for their hot style partner to delay communicating. It can make things much worse if you intentionally hold out too long.

If you need time to process, acknowledge your partner's need to work it out right away, but let him or her know you need some time. Then offer a specific time when you can come back together to talk so you partner knows what to expect.

These are just some of the ways partners differ in communication styles.

As I mentioned before, you both have adopted various ways of communicating based on so many different factors. And it’s likely you’ve both adopted some communication behaviors and patterns that are unhealthy for your relationship.

The goal here is to learn to respect and honor your differing preferences when it comes to communication, while ensuring that you don’t communicate in ways that harm, wound, or offend your partner.

You also want to identify the negative communication patterns you may have developed over the years that have become unconscious habits — habits that are undermining your love and closeness.

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Comments

  1. Great post. I do recognize myself here in the affiliative communication style, the hot style, too, but have worked on this a great deal so have learned that things does not always happen when I want them to. I am an amplifyer, no doubt. I am quite descriptive when I speak. I often guage the other person’s response and interest in what I am saying to know when I should condense my conversation. I am mostly direct, but I am always aware and only uses this sort of communication depending on the situation. Thanks for your post!

  2. Barrie,

    I love how you state that even though we communicate differently, it doesn’t have to be our downfall. In fact, there’s strength in that. I’m the type of person that wants to get it all out right away, and resolve the issue. My current GF likes to sleep on it and put more thought into things. This can be so frustrating, but I have learned with a little bit of patience, on my part, she usually is willing to engage and listen to what I have to say, and because she has thought about it, she always has some pretty good answers.

    Your section on direct and indirect communicators also speaks to me. Often times I used poor word choices with the ex, which, to me seemed completely normal and non-threatening. But to her it was like I had said something off-limits and deeply wounding. Having the knowledge in your section beforehand would have greatly benefited things. Thanks for the post!

  3. What a lovely blog its very informative thanks for sharing.