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When silence isn’t golden: The problem with passive communication

I lose; you win. That’s passive communication in a nutshell.

I won’t put forward my opinions and beliefs, so my needs won’t be met; and you can walk all over me.

Passive is one of the four main styles of communication, along with aggressive, assertive, and passive-aggressive.

At times, passive has its place, but if it’s your go-to communication style – your default position, particularly at times of stress and conflict – you may have a problem.

Can you sum up what you do?

“So Leah, what do you do?”

“I run my own communications consultancy and speaking business, Methmac Communications. I help businesses, community groups and individuals improve and deliver their communications through media, public relations and community engagement. I also run workshops and motivational seminars to teach people how to communicate more effectively and get the most out of life.”

This is my elevator pitch. I use a version of this response (sometimes shorter, sometimes with a slightly different focus, depending on context) every time I’m asked about my business or what I do.

Different strokes for different folks

I was prompted to write about this after a conversation with friends about my work. A couple commented that working at night must be awful when I could be relaxing in front of the TV.

(For the record, I barely ever watch TV. If I wasn’t working I’d be reading or writing instead; or *shudder* doing housework.)

For them watching television is a good night in. For me? Not so much.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

What do you do when someone gives you feedback you don’t like? When they criticise or disagree with your behaviour, actions, or words?

Do your hackles rise? Does your back straighten?

Is your immediate response to their offence, defence?

Do you shoot the messenger?

Very few people enjoy receiving negative or ‘constructive’ feedback. Even when you know the other person is right, it can still be tough to hear.

But being able to receive feedback is a vital skill for personal and professional success. It allows you to improve and develop, and is a sign of high emotional intelligence.

In good company

When I started my business six years ago, the aim was for it to be a stop-gap between corporate jobs while I focussed on being a mum.

I had three children in 3.5 years and while I knew I wanted to stay home with them while they were little, I was worried about having a big gap on my resume.

Starting my own business when my youngest was 10 months old was the solution. I would take a few consulting jobs here and there around my husband’s shifts and that way I could keep my skills and experience up-to-date.

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