This wishy-washy, inconsistent, vacillating personality type often sounds like a tiny baby whining "whaah, whaah, whaah."

They fall into the victim, martyr, and procrastinator categories and, while usually compliant workers they can bring a cloud of rain and gloom into the work space.

The beliefs of the passive communicator are:

  • No one really cares so I won't talk about my true feelings.
  • Disaster ahead so I won't rock the boat.
  • I must play it safe so I won't ever disagree.
  • I'm not that good so I will stay in the background.

The styles of the passive personality type are:

  • Indirect and says "We can talk about that another time."
  • Agreeable and says "That's way better than what I would have said."
  • Mum and says "My opinion doesn't matter."
  • Hesitant and says "Let me think about it and get back to you."

Did you ever wonder how the victim, martyr and procrastinator who are so afraid to be seen or heard developed this unhealthy way of communicating? It means focusing on that rear view mirror to look back at an earlier time in life when beliefs and methods of maneuvering to survive and be safe were first put into our malleable kid brains.

We've got to be taught to be afraid, it's got to be drummed into our dear little ears. Yes, we've got to be carefully taught. Many of us were told to "be quiet, be good, behave" and if not, a whack on the side of the head reinforced our need to stay on the sidelines and let others who are smarter, faster and more capable take charge.

This pattern of communicating then comes to work with us unconsciously. If it is not safe to speak out, the fear is that a whack, in the form of a performance review or a termination letter, is right around the corner.

Fear is a prime mover.

Characteristics of the passive communicator include being apologetic, self-deprecating, indecisive, never getting what is really wanted. This shows up in behavior that is filled with deep sighs, mumbled complaints, profuse apologizing, incessant permission asking.

Verbal language of the passive type:

  • "Whatever you want is right..."
  • "I hope I don't disappoint you..."
  • "Someone else could do a better job..."
  • "I will finish even if I am burned out..."
  • "Don't be mad if I make a mess of it..."
  • "My way would never work anyway..."

Non-verbal mannerisms of passive type:

  • Meek and muffled tonality
  • Downcast eyes
  • Lack of animation
  • Hands crossed over lap
  • Slumped posture
  • False smiles and nods of agreement

The passive communicator can be tolerated for long periods of time. However, eventually they are by-passed for any but the most menial work. It's just too much trouble to listen to their weak and pitiful sob story.

They never ask for or get recognition and thus never take risks. Creativity is lacking and relationships are built on dependency which is a downer for those they work with or report to. They lack credibility and even if they have great ideas, no one ever knows about it. They have no ability to exercise their self-esteem muscles and they eventually fall into the dark shadows of taking on only menial tasks.

Who do you know that fits the passive communication model? This can certainly be transformed into the healthy opposite where victims become explorers, martyrs become integrators and gather a team to work together, and procrastinators learn to get work done in a timely fashion.

Once these patterns can be observed and someone can say "Yup, that's me" they/you can begin the journey to understand how this type of communication developed, and then learn to speak up, speak out, and gather a new vocabulary of power words ad sentences to be heard and respected.

Next I will discuss the show- off communicators.