What is Aggressive communication Characteristics and example

Aggressive communication is a style of communication that involves the use of combative and hostile verbal and non-verbal language, exalted gestures, and manipulation for personal gain.

It consists of a form of expression of violence, which is manifested through the person’s verbal and paraverbal language. It is the opposite extreme of passive communication and also differs from the assertive style, the latter being the most recommended.

The adoption of this type of communication generally produces a unidirectional exchange of information. That is, the subject who communicates aggressively simply pays attention to his own expressions, resulting in irrelevant feedback provided by the interlocutor.

When different participants in the communicative process use aggressive communication, the exchange of information tends to be based on reproaches and individually pre-established ideas.

Thus, it generally does not reach the objectives proposed by the communicative processes, since there is no bidirectional exchange in its activity. On the contrary, this communication style is generally used to convey authority, demand or superiority over the other.

What is aggressive communication?

It includes one of three main types of communication: passive communication, assertive communication and aggressive communication.

In this communicative modality, the unidirectionality of the exchange between people becomes especially notable. Therefore, the purpose of aggressive communication is not to obtain informative feedback among participants.

In fact, it pursues objectives opposite to exchange. This mode of communication is used to send well-defined messages to the recipient without receiving any kind of response or objection about the expression.

When aggressive communication is used, the thoughts and ideas or attitudes of the interlocutors are irrelevant. The sender focuses only on his message, which he tries to project with the greatest possible force and intensity.

Characteristics of Aggressive communication

To talk about aggressive communication, a number of basic characteristics must be met. Therefore, this type of communication is not limited to the use of profanity, high intonation, or the use of shouting or other signs of force.

In fact, aggressive communication can often be developed without the appearance of particularly aggressive or intense words, although they are often seen frequently.

In this sense, the three basic characteristics of aggressive communication are: the absence of listening, the absence of empathy and the presence of only personal objectives.

don’t listen

Aggressive communication is mainly characterized by the absence of listening during the communicative process. This means that individuals who use this type of communication do not hear their interlocutors.

Failure to listen to aggressive communication not only refers to a lack of active listening, but also implies a complete lack of attention and understanding of the speaker’s speech.

In this way, the sender limits himself to transmitting and projecting his messages, usually in a strong and intense way, and completely rejects the elements exposed by the other participants.

This fact causes communication to be based solely on the intentions and ideas of one of the participants, since the aggressive communicator’s speech does not take into account at any moment the information emitted by others.

personal goals

The fact that aggressive communication does not include listening among its operational elements is not in vain. In fact, the absence of listening responds to the objectives pursued by the communicator through exchange.

In aggressive communication, only personal goals are observed; therefore, the communicator has no other purpose than to send the messages it wants to convey.

This makes communication unidirectional and participant intervention non-existent.

Unlike the rest of communicative processes, aggressive communication is not intended to reach agreements or share information with interlocutors. The sole purpose is to convey the personal message, which is not modified by other people’s responses.

lack of empathy

Finally, in aggressive communication, there is a total lack of empathy on the part of the communicator.

In addition to the fact that the interlocutor’s speech is not heard, the individual who uses this type of communication also does not pay attention or concern about the effects that his message may cause.

In fact, the only objective is to satisfy personal needs, so that the emotions, sensations or thoughts that may originate in the interlocutor are not important elements.

This last principle of aggressive communication makes the exchange cold and tense. During the communicative process, there is no bond of union between the participants, who are distant and confronted.

What is an aggressive person like?

Aggressive communication manifests itself through all components of the communicative process, encompassing both verbal aspects and paraverbal, paralinguistic, attitude and intonation elements.

Remember that the elements that make up aggressive communication don’t always have to be the same. Likewise, they don’t always express themselves with the same intensity.

Thus, a conversation with low intonation and calm speech can also be an aggressive communicative process, depending on the other factors identified.

The six elements that determine people with aggressive communication allow us to identify this type of communicative process.

general behavior

The general behavior refers to the global aspects that the person’s behavior shows when executing the communication process. Therefore, it does not determine specific elements of behavior, but establishes generic components of behavior.

In this sense, the general behavior of the aggressive communicator is characterized by demonstrating superiority through their actions. The communicator adopts a belligerent posture with the aim that the interlocutor succumbs to his superiority and adopts an obedient and submissive role.

On the other hand, the general demeanor of the statement is also characterized by being aggressive and imposing. The behaviors performed are not neutral and aim to increase communication tension to generate fear and submission to others.


The general behavior of the aggressive communicator is intended to convey a demanding and violent attitude. This attitude forms the basis of communication, since the main objective of the communicative process is to convey a defiant posture.

The violent attitude is transmitted through all the expressive mechanisms that the person has, therefore, it is not limited to the use of words.

In fact, often the demanding attitudes of aggressive communication are expressed through intonation, movements and eye contact. Although the verbal content can be limited to be correct to avoid a direct confrontation.

For this reason, when determining a communication as aggressive, it is highly relevant to examine what attitude the communicator adopts and what tone he uses in his behavior.

verbal components

Verbal components refer to the linguistic content used in the communicative process. Aggressive communication, in addition to the reasons used, is characterized by the massive use of imperatives.

Likewise, many criticisms of other people’s behavior are made and threatening expressions are used. These elements prevent the free expression of the interlocutors and aim to achieve personal goals in the communication process.

Typically, aggressive communication uses expressions such as “beam” “you must” “bad” “you would do well to …”. However, sometimes more neutral words can be used that only refer to personal aspects and individual needs.

On the other hand, aggressive communication is characterized by asking several questions at once. In this way, the sender transmits a large amount of information to respond together, with the aim that the partners cannot do so.

Finally, when aggressive communicators are asked, they often respond with other questions or with answers that are unrelated to the question.


The intonation of aggressive communication is usually characterized by being high. The sender usually uses a strong, cold, authoritative voice. Likewise, it is common to use shouts or increased intonations during speech.

The purpose of the intonation is that it is stronger and louder than that of others. In this way, the intensity of the voice used can depend to a large extent on the intonation used by others.

In aggressive communication, the sender does not contemplate that the speech of others obtain more prominence than theirs, either by content or by the intensity of the sound.

Paralinguistic Components

The paralinguistic components define one of the main characteristics of aggressive communication: the time and frequency of speech.

In aggressive communication, it is usually customary for the sender to take excessive time to speak, monopolizing the conversation.

The purpose of this element is to make interventions more difficult for the interlocutor, who has few occasions to speak. In this way, the aggressive communicator avoids the receiver’s participation, since all he wants is to send his message.

On the other hand, aggressive communicators usually do not stop or remain silent throughout the communicative process for the same reasons as the previous ones.

Likewise, it is common to use an emphatic, raised voice that allows the speaker to interrupt when he touches the ground.

Finally, it should be noted that although the verbal fluency of aggressive communication is generally adequate, it is often overly rapid, which makes it unclear and lacking in understanding.

paraverbal components

Finally, the paraverbal components also play an important role in the development of aggressive communication. In this case, they usually emphasize verbal expression, body posture and movements made by the upper extremities.

As far as facial expression goes, this is usually tense. The brow usually appears furrowed and they get used to avoiding smiles and expressions of closeness.

The gaze of aggressive communication is straight into the recipient’s eyes; moreover, it is usually fixed and pervasive, showing defiant and superior attitudes. Often, the intensity of the gaze forces the interlocutor to look away due to the discomfort it generates.

The body posture of aggressive communication is intimidating. Normally, it does not respect the intimate distance and the orientation with the interlocutor is usually faced.

Finally, aggressive communication is usually accompanied by gestures and movements with the most intense and abundant. They are generally perceived as threatening and play an important role in expressing the communicator’s aggressive attitude.


Aggressive communication can occur in a variety of contexts. It can also be done by different individuals with different personality traits.

Thus, there is no single type of aggressive communication. This can take a different form in each case, and it can have different elements in each situation.

With the aim of exposing the characteristics of aggressive communication and differentiating it from other forms of communication, three communicative examples that can be performed in the same situation are presented below.

“A person goes to buy and realizes that the seller gave him the wrong exchange, returning less money than he should”.

– Answer 1 (assertive communication): «You gave me less change, I paid with a 20 euro ticket and you gave me 10 change, don’t worry, we can all make mistakes».

– Answer 2 (passive communication) »Sorry, it seems to me that you gave me less change, although I am not sure if I paid with a 20 ticket or if it was 10 ″.

– Response 3 (aggressive communication): «Hey, you were wrong. I paid 20 tickets and you gave me bad change ».

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