Communication Styles in Celebrancy

Jan 25, 2023

It goes without saying that communication is important in celebrancy. But which specific communication style will help you to enhance your career and cultivate good relationships with clients, funeral directors and other celebrants? 

Everybody is different, but psychologists have identified four categories of communication styles that we all fit into. Our communication styles can change day to day, or scenario to scenario, but as creatures of habit, we do tend to stick with one communication style in general.

These four communication styles are passive, passive aggressive, aggressive, and assertive. 

As celebrants, an assertive communication style is recommended, but if it doesn’t come naturally to you, there are ways you can practise positive changes. 

The Four Communication Styles Explained

Knowing a bit more about communication styles can help you to identify which one you tend to use.

Passive: People who speak in a passive manner tend to have some problems expressing what they need, and take a back seat in conversations. They have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude and are conflict avoidant. Passive communicators might be good at keeping the peace and may also be very likeable, given that they are rarely in a drama. But in business, standing up for yourself and taking control is important, and too much passivity could mean that ceremonies become disorganised or you don’t have as many clients as assertive communicators. 

Aggressive: People with an aggressive communication style are the opposite to passive communicators and tend to dominate conversations and take command in groups. Aggression in business can mean pushing clients away or having high conflict situations. If you find yourself talking over other people, or pointing fingers, you might be an aggressive communicator. 

Passive Aggressive: Passive-aggressive communicators appear passive on the surface but have a hidden resentment that breaks through in subtle, hard to spot ways. Sarcasm, lots of jokes, or muttering under your breath can be passive aggressive. These communicators can be deeply confusing to others, who may not know where they stand with you. In business, it’s good for everyone to communicate clearly and without hidden agendas, which comes with assertiveness, rather than passive aggression. 

Assertive: Assertive communicators will do the best in celebrancy, and in business in general. This communication style encourages open, honest dialogue and empathy towards others. Assertive communicators can express their needs and also find creative ways to meet the needs of others. They are considerate in group dynamics, and can say no without upsetting anyone, or compromising their own integrity. 

How To Be More Assertive

So, how can you become more of an assertive communicator? Here are 5 tips.

Make good eye contact. Whether you are meeting clients for the first time, introducing yourself to a funeral director, or attending a celebrant networking event, make sure you look people in the eye when you speak. This will help them feel seen and listened to. 

Practice saying no. You will, inevitably, come across clients you need to say no to. It could be their expectations are too high or they want to bring your price down. Saying no is an important skill in any business. Explore some phrases that you might use that are assertive without being aggressive. For example, “I cannot do that on this occasion, but if you want I can refer you to another celebrant who has availability for this”, or “Unfortunately this won’t be possible, but can I recommend an alternative?”

Rehearse what you want to say. If you are doing something new and feel a bit nervous, such as introducing yourself to a funeral director, practise what you will say before you say it. If it helps, you could run this dialogue past a friend and ask them how they experience you. The same can be said for written dialogue - if you are sending an email, ask someone to proofread it before sending to ensure your communication style is on point, and not too passive, or too aggressive. 

Use open, positive body language. Clients respond positively to open, relaxed, friendly body language. Unclench your hands, relax your shoulders, keep your arms open and in view, and smile. 

Keep your emotions in check. Some situations can be very difficult for celebrants. Especially for funeral celebrants. If you feel yourself becoming emotional or mentally affected by a relationship with a client, step back and ensure you are taking care of yourself. Read our mental wellbeing tips for celebrant for further advice.

 If you are not yet working as a celebrant, you might be wondering if celebrancy is the right career for you, and if you can assert yourself within your business to achieve success. The good news is, we have a quiz you can take to determine if this is the right path for you. Click here to take the quiz