Authoritarian communication style – revealing the essence


Despite the abundance of individuals in nature, their behavior and interrelationships are subject to a limited number of laws. One such evaluation criteria is the communication styles that an individual uses when communicating with his or her fellow human beings.

The style of communication is inherent in each of us. It is not an individual distinctive feature, as styles are subject to a certain classification. Usually a person develops a certain style of communication for himself during his life, but it may vary depending on the situation, the external factors to which the person is exposed. Communication style always characterizes the level of dependence of one person on another.

The process of communication is always characterized by the transfer of information from one person to another. The only question is, how does he do it and why? The question “why?” is answered by the content of communication. It determines the purpose, the subject of communication. And here is how a person communicates with others can be seen from the style of his communication.


An important characteristic of communication is its style. Communication style is a set of methods of interaction with a partner / partners, embodied in certain forms and having the appropriate nature of implementation, contribute to the creation of interpersonal relationships.

Communication style significantly determines a person’s behavior in his interaction with other people. The specific choice of communication style is determined by many factors: personal characteristics of the person, his or her outlook and position in society, the characteristics of this society and many others.

Today psychological and pedagogical literature presents a wide range of classifications of communication styles, but the classification proposed by Kurt Lewin (authoritarian, democratic, liberal) deserves the most attention, as it is the most convenient and universal.


In psychology, authoritarianism is a characteristic of a person who constantly seeks to subjugate the people around him as much as possible, to influence them, and to achieve certain goals at the expense of others. The most pronounced authoritarian style of communication shows itself in professional and business relationships, as well as in the upbringing or education.

However, it can also exist in interpersonal communication when a group of people are formed informal leaders – individuals who do not have official rights of leadership, but enjoy so strong authority that the other members of such a social group unconditionally follow their instructions and requirements, as well as take for granted the comments made by them, allow to judge themselves and point out the shortcomings

The authoritarian style of communication is characterized exclusively by the sole decision of the subject of interaction on all issues relating to both the common life with the other subject, and the subject’s own life. Thus, the subject, on whom the authoritarian influence is directed, acts as an object. The subject of influence, based on his or her own attitudes, independently determines the goals of communication, prejudging the results of joint activities. In a hypertrophied form this style is manifested in an autocratic approach to communication, when other parties of interaction do not participate in the discussion of issues directly related to them, and their initiative is evaluated negatively and refuted. The authoritarian style of communication is often realized on the basis of the use of diktat and hyper-trusteeship. Opposing the other party to the rigid pressure of the supporter of the authoritarian style often leads to protracted conflict situations.

People who adhere to this style of communication do not allow others to show independence and initiative. Their assessment of the partners in the interaction is inadequate and based primarily on the subjectivity of the attitude. The authoritarian interlocutor focuses on the negative features of behavior, not taking into account her motives. External indicators of successful interaction of authoritarian interlocutors are most often positive, but the socio-psychological climate is predominantly unfavorable.

According to many researchers, the authoritarian style of communication contributes to the development of inadequate self-esteem of students, justifies the use of force, increases the possibility of neurosis, forms an inadequate level of pretensions in communication with others. In addition, the dominance of authoritarian methods in communication with the person leads to a distorted understanding of values, a high estimate of such personal qualities as irresponsibility, power; the cultivation of the importance of external attractiveness and physical strength.


The liberal style of communication is characterized by the desire of the subject of interaction to be minimally involved in joint activities, which can be explained by the removal of responsibility for its results. Such people participate in communication predominantly formally, weakly concentrating on the essence of the process. The liberal style of communication is realized on the basis of non-interference, the basis of which is indifference and disinterest in the problems of the other person and his or her environment. A consequence of this is often a lack of control over the process of communication.

Supporters of this style evade decision-making, transferring the initiative to the partner on interaction. Organization and control of the activity, in the process of which the liberal style of communication prevails, is carried out haphazardly, there is indecision of partners, hesitation in situations of choice. The application of this style in practice may seem democratic, but due to passivity, disinterest, vagueness of interaction goals and lack of responsibility, the process of communication becomes almost unmanageable. Groups in which the liberal style of communication prevails are characterized by an unstable socio-psychological climate and the presence of hidden conflicts.

Common features of liberal and authoritarian styles of communication is the distance in the relationship between the subjects of interaction, the lack of trust between them, a pronounced isolation and aloofness.

In a liberal style of communication, the characteristic feature is the insignificant activity of the leader, who may not be a leader. Such a person discusses problems formally, is subject to various influences, does not show initiative in joint activity, and often is unwilling or unable to make any decisions.

Leader with a liberal style of communication is characterized in the interaction with the other transferring production functions on their shoulders, the inability in the process of business interaction to influence the result, trying to avoid any innovation. About a man of liberal, we can say that he communicates, “adrift”, often coaxing his interlocutor. In the end, with a liberal style of interaction, a typical situation is when active and creatively oriented employees begin to use the workplace and time for activities unrelated to the common cause.


The democratic style is the style in which the interlocutor is a good listener and storyteller, treats you attentively and sensitively and tries to benefit from the communication for both. According to this style of communication, the subject of interaction is focused on increasing the subjectivity of his partner, his involvement in solving common cases. The main feature of this style is mutual acceptance and mutual understanding. As a result of open and free discussion of problems subjects of interaction together come to this or that decision. The democratic style of communication with people provides the organization of joint activities in the team.

Methods of influence in the framework of the democratic style are encouragement to action, requests and recommendations. Partners of people who prefer a democratic style of communication are more often characterized by a state of peace and satisfaction of their own needs, the presence of high self-esteem. “Democrats” pay more attention to their psychological characteristics, have a high level of professional stability, are satisfied with their profession.

People who adhere to this style are characterized by a positive attitude to the subjects of interaction; an adequate assessment of their NIP capabilities, successes and failures; a deep understanding of the partner, the goals and motives of his behavior; the ability to predict the development of relationships. In terms of external signs of interaction with others people of democratic communication style are inferior to authoritarian, but the socio-psychological climate in groups, where they are, is always more favorable. Interpersonal relations in them are characterized by trust and high demandingness to themselves and others. By democratic style of communication the person stimulates others to creativity, manifestation of initiative, creates conditions for joint self-realization.


Despite the many classifications and the selection of basic styles of communication, each person has its own, typical only for him, the style of communication with people. It varies somewhat depending on the partner and the nature of activity, but at the same time, it retains its essential features, the uniqueness of personality. At the same time, the style reflects the specificity of the relationship between people, which, in turn, expresses the diverse, but at the same time unique essence of the personalities included in the communication.

The communication style that is inherent in each person depends on a variety of different things – their life history, their attitudes toward people, the kind of communication most preferred in the society in which they live. At the same time, communication style, determining how a person should structure and understand various situations, itself has a huge impact on his life, shaping his attitudes toward people, ways of solving problems, and his personality. Communication style significantly determines a person’s behavior when interacting with other people.

Communication style: authoritarian, business, pedagogical

Modern society cannot function normally without the interaction of people with each other. Each personality is individual, but it is undoubtedly believed that it must adjust to different situations. This allows a person to find a job, a partner, to go on a trip. The manner of communication and behavior of a person is formed throughout his life. They can change, be supplemented by other techniques, and any one type can be lost. Factors and reasons can be very different. The goal is the same: to achieve a result. Through communication, a person is able to achieve a lot, it is only necessary to choose the right style of communication and behavior.

Communication styles

Communication style is characterized by a habitual stable connection between the ways and methods of communication and the goals it pursues. That is, these are some features of the interaction between people. A man is looking for a new job, came for a job interview – here he uses one style of communication, in interaction with colleagues – the other, in the family and in communication with relatives – the third. Different communication styles are chosen for each specific situation. No matter what actions are taken, a person’s words will always be the basis of communication.

Styles of communication in terms of psychology

Psychology has always been concerned with the problems of how people interact with each other. According to psychologists, the style of communication is due to the ability of a person to choose certain means of behavior in a particular situation. They have divided communication styles into three categories:

  • flexible;
  • rigid;
  • transitional.

With a flexible style a person is well oriented in society, he can adequately assess who is in front of him, quickly understand what it is all about and even guess at the emotional state of the interlocutor. With a rigid style, the person cannot quickly analyze not only his or her own behavior, but also the behavior of the interlocutor. He has poor self-control and is not always able to choose an appropriate way to behave and communicate. In the transitional style, the person has signs of the two aforementioned styles. He does not fully understand what is going on around him, with whom he is communicating, or what is the best way to interact.

Learning Communication Styles

When studying communication techniques, one must know that communication style in itself and communication style in any situation are different concepts. If you do not take into account the peculiarities of the character of the person and the characteristics of the situation in which he found himself, the explanation will simply be meaningless. There are a large number of methods for studying communication styles. For example, A.V. Petrovsky created a system of pedagogical interaction consisting of two components. It was called the style of pedagogical communication.

In 1938, for the first time attention was paid to communication styles. German psychologist Kurt Lewin conducted research and derived a classification of the relationship between people who control and people who are forced to obey. It subsequently became generally accepted and is still valid today. His styles of pedagogical communication include:

  • Authoritarian;
  • democratic;
  • liberal.

Characteristics of pedagogical communication styles

Styles of pedagogical communication have been defined as the emotional techniques and actions of the teacher in relation to the student. The teacher’s behavior is conditioned by his or her understanding of the goal he or she has in teaching the child. More often than not, it is nothing but teaching the child the basics of his subject, transferring skills and abilities which the student will need to complete the task or which will be useful to him in later life. At the same time, the teacher also takes into account the child’s communication styles. Communication with children is very different from that with adults. The teacher needs a little more time, energy and attention to explain the material to the child. The very same communication takes place through directions, explanations, questions, remarks, and even bans.

Authoritarian style of communication

The authoritarian style of communication implies that the teacher reserves the right to decide questions independently. They may concern relationships between students, classroom activities, or concern each student personally. Typically, this mode involves both dictatorship and concern for subordinates. With such teachers, students are rarely able to open up fully and show their capabilities. Initiative can cause conflict between teacher and student. The teacher’s belief that only his or her thinking is correct and everything else is false prevents both parties from interacting productively. The child’s response cannot be adequately evaluated because the teacher simply does not understand the student and is based only on performance metrics. His bad behavior in the eyes of the teacher necessarily comes to the forefront, and his motives for his behavior are not taken into account.

A democratic style of communication

The democratic style of communication is considered the best, because the teacher seeks to help the student, to involve all his forces and capabilities, to activate the role of the child in the life of the class. Interaction and cooperation are the main goals of this style. The teacher evaluates, first of all, good deeds of the pupil, treats him well, understands him and supports him. If the teacher sees that the child does not have time to absorb information or does not understand something, he/she slows down the pace and explains the material more thoroughly, puts everything in its place. The teacher adequately assesses the capabilities of the mentee and can predict the direction of his development. He takes into account the interests and wishes of his students. Some methods of teaching and communicating with students the teachers of the democratic style are slightly inferior to the methods of the authoritarian style of their colleagues, but the “climate” in the classroom of the former is still better. Children feel much freer.

Liberal style of communication

The teaching methods of the liberal style teacher are different from those included in the teacher’s other communication styles. He tends to reduce all chances to participate in any way in the life of the classroom, and does not want to be responsible for the students. The teacher limits himself to performing exclusively his pedagogical functions. Those styles of communication that the teacher combines in his work entail poor academic performance. He is indifferent to the problems of both the school and the children, making it very difficult for him to control the students.

Characteristics of Business Communication Styles

Business communication styles imply some actions or ways of communicating that are aimed at achieving some result. In this case, the main task of those participating in the conversation becomes the reinforcement of the idea of oneself as a member of a team or society as a whole. It is as if the participant puts on his festive mask and becomes a different person for a while. This peculiar ritual, on the one hand, sometimes seems pointless and boring, but on the other hand, it is a game whose rules one knows in advance and must follow.

The ritualistic style of communication

Styles of business communication in the manner of ritual communication are often used in companies, the members of which have known each other for a long time. And so they meet, spend some time together and it seems that after all these years the topics discussed in these companies have not changed at all. Sometimes it is even possible to predict what this or that participant of the conversation will say, but, nevertheless, everyone is satisfied and after a day some even feel satisfaction with the time spent. Such a style of communication is considered a typical case of ritualistic style, where the quality of the communication comes to the forefront rather than its content. Thus, there is the very reinforcement of the idea of oneself as a member of the team, where everyone has some place, everyone is important. His opinions, values, worldview are important.

Cases in which a person who always answers the question, “How are you?” with an unambiguous, “Fine,” and now suddenly begins to tell a detailed story about his life, family, children and work, are called going beyond ritual. Such atypical behavior of the person, whose reaction could always be guessed, violates the notion of ritual, because the main thing is to wear a mask, whether it is social relations or interpersonal.

Manipulative style of communication

In this style of communication, the person is perceived by the other as a means to an end. As a rule, the interlocutor tries to show the best aspects of his goal to help him achieve it. Despite the fact that both participants in the conversation have different ideas about the component of this goal, the one who is more adept at manipulative techniques wins. In such cases, the interlocutor knows the reasons for the partner’s behavior, his aspirations, desires, and can turn the development of events in the way he wants. Manipulation is not necessarily a bad method. Many goals are achieved in this way. Sometimes to convince a person to do something, to make him act, it is necessary to resort to a manipulative style of communication.

This can be compared to the method of communication of the middle manager. With his superiors, he speaks in one tone, but with his subordinates – quite different. Sometimes it is unpleasant, but there is no other way.

There are cases in which a person’s entire communication style is reduced to manipulation. Because of the too frequent use of this method on the person, the constant persuasion and pushing, the latter may consider manipulation the only correct way out of the situation.

Humanistic style of communication

The humanistic style of communication refers to interpersonal relationships in which a person wants to be understood, supported, given advice, and empathized with. Initially this type of communication does not imply any goal, the situation is formed from the events that occur. This style of communication can be called the most sincere of all existing, where those very events are of an intimate, confessional nature. The main method that works here is suggestion, and it is mutual. Each partner makes the other believe that he is worthy of trust, that one is ready to listen, and the other to tell what is troubling him.

Such communication can take place not only between close and related people. For example, a person in a few dozen minutes can get to know the person who rides with him on the next bus or tell him a lot about himself, but does not know the person with whom he has been working for several years. A conversation with a fellow traveler leads to some revelations about himself, makes people feel for each other, empathize. But a conversation with a colleague has a completely different purpose.

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