16 Passive Communication Examples To Look Out For + Tips

16 Passive Communication Examples and How to Overcome It

Do you have trouble saying “no” to people? Do you avoid eye-contact when speaking? Or do you have a habit of over-apologizing?

You may be showing signs and examples of passive communication in your everyday life. But what is passive communication? And is it really that bad?

Well yes. Passive communication has a negative impact on your mental health and your relationships. It is one of the major reasons of misunderstandings. You may also lose many opportunities at work by not speaking up. Not being able to express yourself or others not understanding your desires may lead to stress and anxiety for you.

But don’t worry. It is something you can overcome. And I say that through personal experience.

The first step to overcome passive communication is to understand it. So we are sharing 15 passive communication examples in this article which you may be doing in your daily life. In the next section we will discuss passive communication tips to help you overcome it once and for all.

So are you ready to upgrade your communication skills? Let’s get started with the definition of passive communication.

What is Passive Communication?

Passive communication style is one where a person is hesitant to express their feelings, opinions, or needs directly. Passive communicators tend to avoid confrontation and prioritize the needs of others over their own.

This style of communication often leads to unproductive outcomes. As you are suppressing your emotions and opinion, the other person will not understand your true ideas and desires.

16 Passive Communication Examples You Should Look Out For

Passive communication examples may be all around you. In your workplace, relationships, and your daily life. To help you understand if you have this style of communication, here are 15 examples of passive communication:

Passive Communication Examples in the Workplace

Passive Communication Examples in the Workplace
5Passive Communication Examples in the Workplace

Silent Disagreement in Team Meetings. During team meetings, a passive communicator may disagree with a proposed idea but chooses to remain silent to avoid confrontation. This can hinder the team’s decision-making process.

Unwillingness to Provide Constructive Feedback. They may refrain from offering constructive feedback, even when asked, out of fear of causing discomfort. The lack of honest feedback can impede professional growth and hinder the team’s overall performance.

Agreeing to Unreasonable Workload. They may accept an overwhelming workload without expressing concerns, fearing potential conflict. This can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and a negative impact on both individual and team performance.

Avoiding Conflict with Colleagues. They try to avoid necessary conflict resolution with colleagues, letting issues persist. Unresolved conflicts can escalate, creating a tense work environment and affecting overall team morale.

Failure to Set Boundaries. They may struggle to set boundaries, resulting in an inability to manage their workload effectively. This can lead to an imbalance between work and personal life. It ultimately affects job satisfaction and well-being.

Passive Communication Examples in Relationships

Passive Communication Examples in Relationships
5 Passive Communication Examples in Relationships

Avoiding Difficult Conversations. A passive communicator might avoid addressing uncomfortable topics, such as relationship concerns or personal needs. This avoidance can lead to unresolved issues, resentment, and a breakdown in effective communication.

Giving In to Partner’s Wishes Unquestioningly. They may always agree with their partner’s preferences without expressing their own desires. Over time, this can create a lack of genuine connection and hinder mutual understanding.

Failing to Express Emotional Needs. Passive communication in relationships may involve a reluctance to express emotional needs or desires. This can result in emotional distance and an unfulfilling relationship dynamic.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior. They may indirectly express anger or frustration through subtle sarcasm, backhanded compliments, or subtle undermining actions instead of addressing issues directly.

Not Setting Relationship Boundaries. They may struggle to establish and communicate clear boundaries in a relationship. This can lead to misunderstandings, infringements on personal space, and overall relationship dissatisfaction.

Examples of Passive Communication in Daily Life

6 Examples of Passive Communication in Daily Life
6 Examples of Passive Communication in Daily Life

Self-Blame and Apology for Others’ Mistakes. They may take responsibility for mistakes made by others and apologize on their behalf. They would avoid holding others accountable to prevent conflict.

Overly Grateful Responses. Expressing excessive gratitude even in situations where it may not be warranted. They do this as a way of avoiding any appearance of dissatisfaction or disagreement.

Ignoring Messages or Calls. Avoiding communication by not responding to messages or phone calls. They do this to create distance to evade potential confrontations or uncomfortable conversations.

Inability to Receive Compliments. They may face difficulty in accepting compliments graciously. They often deflect praise or downplay personal achievements to avoid standing out.

Have you related these passive communication examples to your own life? If you think you are a passive communicator, the next section is for you!

What To Do If You’re a Passive Communicator?

Overcoming passive communication is a transformative journey that requires self-awareness, intentional effort, and the cultivation of assertive communication skills. Here’s a roadmap to guide you towards breaking free from passive communication patterns:

  1. Self-Reflection. Start by introspecting and recognizing moments when passive communication takes hold on you. Identify specific triggers or situations where you tend to default to passive behavior.
  2. Identify Your Needs. Clearly understand your own needs, opinions, and boundaries. Recognize that expressing these is not a selfish act but an essential part of healthy communication.
  3. Practice Assertiveness. Develop assertiveness by expressing your thoughts and needs directly and respectfully. Use “I” statements to communicate your feelings and opinions without placing blame.
  4. Set Clear Boundaries. Establish and communicate clear boundaries. Learn to say “no” when necessary and express your limits without fear of conflict or disapproval.
  5. Active Listening. Enhance your listening skills. Actively listen to others, seek to understand their perspectives, and respond thoughtfully. This fosters a more balanced and reciprocal communication dynamic.
  6. Embrace “I” Statements. Use “I” statements to articulate your feelings and thoughts without sounding accusatory. For instance, say “I feel” instead of “You always.”
  7. Gradual Exposure. Gradually expose yourself to situations that may induce conflict or discomfort. Facing these situations allows you to build resilience and confidence in expressing your needs.
  8. Seek Feedback. Ask for feedback from trusted individuals in your life. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives on your communication style and areas for improvement.
  9. Challenge Negative Thoughts. Challenge negative thoughts or beliefs that may underlie passive behavior. Recognize your worth and the validity of your needs.
  10. Communication Skills Training. Consider professional training or counseling to enhance your communication skills. Work with a coach or therapist to practice and refine assertive communication techniques.
  11. Positive Affirmations. Incorporate positive affirmations into your daily routine. Affirm your right to express yourself and assert your needs. Repeat these affirmations to reinforce a positive self-image.
  12. Celebrate Progress. Celebrate small victories along the way. Recognize and appreciate moments when you successfully assert yourself or communicate more assertively.

Wrapping Up: Examples of Passive Communication

These 16 passive communication examples have made the negative impact of this communication style very clear. But the good news is, you can overcome it through the 12 passive communication tips we have shared with you!

It’s important to remember that overcoming passive communication is a gradual process. Be patient with yourself, and celebrate the progress you make. The journey towards assertive communication is empowering and contributes to healthier, more fulfilling relationships.


What are the long-term impacts of passive communication?

Passive communication can erode trust, breed resentment, and hinder healthy relationships. It can also lead to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and increased conflict.

Is passive communication bad?

Yes, passive communication can be bad for several reasons. It can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and missed opportunities. It can also make it difficult to resolve conflict and build strong relationships.

Why is passive communication ineffective?

Passive communication is ineffective as it often involves avoiding expressing thoughts and needs, leading to misunderstandings and unmet expectations.

How can I identify passive communication in others?

Look for signs like indirect language, backhanded compliments, vague requests, the silent treatment, and nonverbal cues like crossed arms or avoidance of eye contact.

What are some helpful phrases to encourage direct communication?

“I’d really appreciate it if you could…”
“I’m feeling a bit confused, could you clarify what you mean?”
“Can we talk about this openly and honestly?”
“I value our relationship, and I want to make sure we’re on the same page.”

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