There are five common communication types, according to psychologist Virginia Satir. We learn these behaviors as children, and as we mature we learn that these are not the best way to communicate, however, in times of stress, we will often return to these panic responses. I know I definitely did. Hence the whole couldn’t-stop-crying thing.
The five communication types are basically survival modes developed to hide our feelings out of a need to protect ourselves from being vulnerable. Each one responds to hiding a different emotion. The fifth communication type, the leveller doesn’t. The person responds authentically to the situation. They are the ideal type of communication.
Yep, I’m a placater, and a distracter. When I had conflicts at work or in my relationships, I reverted to these childlike behaviors and it blew up in my face. I tried to make everyone happy at work (placater), and then had such a busy social life that I had no time to think about what was going on that I completely avoided accepting my situation and confronting the issue head (distracter) on until I had a breakdown. Ooopps! 😛
I’m currently working on being the 5th type of communicator, a leveller.
Here’s the 5 Communication Types:
I thought it might be helpful for you to figure out who you are, helped me for sure. Helpful to know in times of crisis why you’re acting the way you’re acting, and sometimes it’s helpful to know that you’re acting that way because you’re in a time of crisis, and thus you can figure out what your triggers are.
- Placater: They are people-pleasers who apologize when they’ve done nothing wrong and are often thankful to be invited and have friends because they think their presence is a burden. They are afraid to voice their own needs. To support this type of communicator, they need to know that it is okay to disagree.
- Blamer: They are complainers who aren’t afraid to tell people what they don’t like and have trouble admitting their mistakes. They are critical and are afraid to give up their power. To support this type of communicator, they need to work on speaking on their behalf without accusing others.
- Computer: They are distancers who will use big words and logic to numb their feelings. They prefer to keep things in the abstract using theories so as to keep their expression neutral. They are afraid of their feelings. To support this type of communicator, they need someone to ask them specific questions about their feelings.
- Distracter: They are dreamers or comics who will bring up irrelevant things and try to keep people laughing or engaged in small talk so they don’t have to confront the reality of their feelings. They are afraid to accept that life is both bitter and sweet, and prefer to create their own reality, or live in the past or future. To support this type of communicator, they need to feel confident that their problem is possible to resolve.
- Leveller: They are authentic who openly share their feelings, which allows them to deal with problems realistically and create a win/win situation. They have integrity, which Arthur Wenk describes as, “unity of beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.”
Bandler, Richard, John Grinder and Virginia Satir (2000). Changing with Families: A Book About Further Education for Being Human. Palo Alto, California: Science and Behavior Books.