Social Anxiety Disorder Passive Communication and Social Anxiety By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 07, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print David Burch / UpperCut Images / Getty Images Passive communication is a style in which you avoid directly saying what you think or want and that often involves uncomfortable body language. Many people with social anxiety end up using passive communication. Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder and can be a hindrance to your daily life. If you have social anxiety, your communication skills may be weak because you are anxious about social gatherings, meeting new people and confrontation. One of the key areas that may be impacted is communication. Below is a description of how passive communication and social anxiety disorder may be related. Press Play for Advice On Communicating Better Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring best-selling author Celeste Headlee, shares how to have better conversations. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Defining Passive Communication Passive communication is a pattern of not sharing your opinions and failing to protect your rights and get your needs met. Passive communicators fail to be assertive and allow others to take advantage of them. Passive Communication Examples Passive communication can be shown in many different ways. Some passive communicators beat around the bush, such as by saying "I wish someone would remember to take out the trash" rather than just asking a family member to take out the trash. Hints like this often go unnoticed, making the passive communicator irritated and the family member who missed the hint bewildered.Others will just let people override their thoughts and feelings. For instance, if you are a vegetarian and your coworkers decide to meet at a restaurant with limited vegetarian options, you may opt to avoid saying anything or suggesting another option out of fear of being viewed as difficult or picky.Some passive communicators speak very softly or apologetically. They may apologize ahead of time for their opinions or qualify their statements. For example, if called upon in a meeting, a passive communicator may say, "This could be a stupid question, but have you considered the problem from this angle?" This derives from a lack of confidence and anxiety about being seen as opinionated or harsh.Some have body language which lacks confidence such as a slumped posture. Impacts of Passive Communication Individuals with a passive communication style may: Feel anxious or like life is out of controlFeel depressed or hopelessFeel resentful or confused because needs are not being met Problems With Passive Communication and Social Anxiety If you have social anxiety and avoid conflict, passive communication can cause more discomfort and hurt. Because you do not address conflicts when they happen and allow grievances to go unnoticed, your irritation can grow. Eventually, you will need to express these feelings, but because they have mounted for so long, it may come out explosively and damage your relationships. Afterward, you may feel tremendously guilty, causing you to be more passive in the future. This can lead to even more social anxiety when interacting with others or trying to assert yourself. This vicious cycle can perpetuate itself for a long period if there is no intervention. Passive Communication Versus Assertive Communication For many with social anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor confidence leads to a passive communication style. This can cause a cycle in which passive communication leads to your needs going unmet, which makes you feel more anxious and then makes you even more passive. This cycle can be extremely hard to break and often needs professional intervention. By contrast, assertive communication: Means speaking clearly about your opinions, needs, and feelings without violating others' needs Is achieved through strong self-esteem and confidenceInvolves advocating for yourself and your own interests, without apologizing A therapist specializing in social anxiety can help you work through your anxiety issues as well as help you communicate more assertively and confidently. It is not something that can happen overnight; however, a good healthcare provider with a background in cognitive behavioral therapy can help improve your comfort in social settings and empower you to advocate for yourself. The Best Online Therapy Programs We've tried, tested and written unbiased reviews of the best online therapy programs including Talkspace, Betterhelp, and Regain. 2 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Understand the facts: social anxiety disorder. UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Center. The Four Basic Styles of Communication. Additional Reading Antony M. The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook. New Harbinger Publications. 2008. Social Anxiety Institute. Acting Assertively. University of Texas at Dallas. Assertiveness. UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Center. The Four Basic Styles of Communication. By Arlin Cuncic, MA Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety." She has a Master's degree in psychology. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Social Anxiety Disorder Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.