There are many ways to identify communication styles, but most of them have problems. First, they tend to label people with words that create room for judgment. Introvert, extrovert, aggressive, passive, all have assumptions attached, some desirable, and others, not so much. Second, they box people into categories, an approach of which I am not a fan. While they may help organize something as unruly as people and their personal styles, they also limit our ability to understand communication as a two-way exchange. What about the person on the receiving end? Nowhere do we really talk about the effect our styles have on others. And shouldn't that be what really counts? After all, if no one were listening, would any of it matter? In other words, aggressive is only aggressive to those who aren't, and the same is true for any other definition we place on people. It's all relative. The one label we do need though, in my opinion is, "negative" or "positive." It tells you all you need to know, because that is the key variable that determines both the quality and outcome of interpersonal communications across all types.
When I wrote my book about difficult conversations, I thought a lot about how we can better understand the chemistry of communication. In the process, I became increasingly convinced that it is not about what some model or theory tells us we are. I also thought about all the times in my career I'd been described as "intense," and it was with enough frequency that I knew it was a pattern. But what did that mean? There was no box for that. "Intense like Listerine?" I once asked and had someone answer, "Yes, exactly. That's how you feel. It stings like a left hook to the jaw." That got me thinking.