Communication - Passive

Passive Communication

  • Refers to relying on the use of our tone of voice or body language to get our message across, rather than words

  • Explanations

    • Wanting to ask a question, but not knowing how to say it 
    • Or being too shy to say the words… 
    • Or phrasing the question or comments in such a gentle manner than the listener doesn’t hear or understand what you really need or want.
    • Passive communication patterns are common among many of our tribal people
    • There are several reasons for our community to use a “passive” tone 
      • Trying to talk to providers in English rather than in our Native tongues.
      • Several of our tribal cultures believe that questioning the healthcare provider is showing disrespect
      • Many of our people are afraid of the healthcare providers
      • Of being denied care if they appear to be too bothersome or take up too much of the providers’ time.
      • Because of things that have happened to them or other tribal members in the past.
          • Passive communication may also be a way to “deny” that you’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
          • By asking a very passive, or indirect question, you can avoid hearing what you don’t want to learn about your diagnosis
    • Examples of Passive Communication
      • “It was a women doctor and, I went in and I didn't know how to tell her.  So I said I had a sore throat and she examined my throat and there was nothing wrong with my throat.  And then I said my ears.  So, then she examined my ears and there was nothing wrong.  And that's when later she picked up on it that there was something wrong, but I didn't want to tell her.  Finally she kept asking me questions, and finally I told her, 'Oh, I have this lump on my breast.'  So she examined it and then she sent me down right away for a mammogram.”
      • “The other doctor didn’t tell me anything about it, he just said ‘You have cancer’, and he told me in a letter, he didn’t come straight face-to-face.  And then when he did surgery on me, he never told me what he was going to do to me.  He just said ‘You’ve got to have it done in thirty days…’ and that scared me, really …I didn’t know how to tell my family that I had it . . . so then I called my wife and said I’ve got this letter here, do you want to look at it?  …  So, then I took the letter to her.”