Communication is a part of life and healthy communication is an essential part of any relationship. There can be no ‘relationship’ if no communication is present.

A key pillar in relationships, whether that is with a romantic partner, a parent, a child, co-workers, colleagues, or friends, is our communication style. It is a huge factor in the quality of the always-developing relationship.

There are four basic communication styles namely: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive communication styles. Of the four, the first three are classified as unhealthy styles, and the last one, an assertive communication style is ideal for building strong relationships.

The most obviously destructive type of communication style is aggressive communication. Aggressive communication can destroy relationships instead of creating and building them. This type of communication often results when a person believes they have been provoked, but it is still possible to demonstrate this behavior with no external triggers in place.

Some people may have developed strong, aggressive communication styles leading them to believe that is who they are. However, they can change their behavior to improve their relationships and life in general, if they want to.

Signs of Aggression in Communication

Aggressive verbal communication creates rifts and makes people lose their respect and trust in the person. Communicating aggressively often comes naturally for narcissists and bullies. They feel powerful when they are the aggressor, even if they are covering up their own insecurities or fears. Here are some of the signs of verbal aggression:

Highly Emotional Reactions

Aggressive communication is characterized by raised emotions. There is a feeling of fear as all calmness is gone when somebody attacks you verbally. These high emotional responses can cause you to feel afraid, angry, and hurt.

No Tolerance and a Lack of Empathy

A person who verbally attacks another person aims to dominate them and the conversation. They completely disregard the other person’s right to their beliefs or to say what they think is right. In the heat of the moment, empathy or any consideration for the well-being of the other individual is completely gone.

The most important thing for the aggressor is to express themselves however they want, even if what they are saying is untrue, inconsiderate, or hurtful.

Putting Others Down So They Feel Better Themselves

Aggressive communication comes from a place of fear. Insecurity is often the trigger and aggression is the expression of it. The aggressor might truly believe they need to express aggression to bring themselves back up above others, to maintain control. This will help alleviate all the negative emotions they are feeling, such as not being as good as someone else. To do this, they feel the need to put another person down so they feel bigger and better about themselves.

Emotional Outbursts – Yelling, Shouting, and Crying

Aggressive verbal communication is often accompanied by yelling. Sometimes they will add in a few tears, too, if they think that making the other person feel guilty will help their cause. If there are no tears they may be just wanting to cause fear by their shouting. An outburst of emotions is a sure way to get another person’s attention and evoke negative emotions in them in the process. All these aggressive gestures are aimed at establishing superiority over the other person.

The Aggressor Always Wins an Argument

A key sign of aggressive communication is the ‘winner takes it all’ pattern during arguments. The aggressor ends up being the winner who gets all that they need and want, and the victim of their behavior ends up being the loser in the situation. The victim is left with no choice but to submit and deliver what the aggressor is asking them to do.

It Can Feel Very Stressful

An aggressive communication attack can be unhealthy for the person on the receiving end as it can cause a huge amount of stress. The victim can end up feeling very stressed because of absorbing all the negative emotions that were created during the argument.

Creates More Conflict

Aggressive communication can arise from stimuli that provoked the aggressor to react in a highly-emotional state. Chances are, something triggered them and made them feel compelled to dominate the other person. However, in doing so, they are not helping the situation. Instead, they may be creating more conflict, and it may be unnecessary conflict.

For example, they may be triggered by a response that doesn’t even have anything to do with that particular person. It may be someone from their past. So their lashing out may end up damaging their connection with the person in front of them.

An aggressive communication style is nothing short of violent and is classified as a form of verbal abuse. Changing from an aggressive style to a healthier way of communicating and expressing emotions is a must. An attitude and subsequent behavior change can lead to better, healthier relationships and more productive discussions.