We all have a particular style of communicating in a professional and personal capacity of course, but do you know what yours is?
There are fundamentally four main communication styles and this blog will give a snapshot of each one, its strengths and weaknesses, how it compares to the others and how to get the best out of your colleagues and customers by understanding their preferred communication style from a business perspective.
First and foremost, let’s be clear – not one of the communication styles is better than the others, what is important is adapting your style to suit the ‘audience’ you wish to communicate with. Choose the wrong style to engage with them and they will lose interest very rapidly. Learning to build flexibility around your preferred communication style will benefit all involved as it allows others to more successfully engage and be open to the information you need to communicate.
A key difference between the styles is whether they place more emphasis on emotions or data. Here’s a quick summary of the four communication styles – but bear in mind these are ‘typical’ traits and some people may show less or more of some of these.
Drivers tend to focus on the task first then consider the people. Without a doubt, they definitely respond to data and not feelings. Here’s an overview of a typical Driver:
- They can come across as being business like and, in a work environment, are often quite serious and focused.
- Focus is on the bigger picture and they only become concerned with detail if the bigger picture needs to be qualified.
- Usually strong in setting direction and getting others to be focused on what they need to do to achieve the task/project objectives.
- Quick decision makers, based on current facts and will change their decisions if better and/or new facts become available.
- Can come across as being formal and they do not necessarily respond well to small talk, often keeping discussions short and to the point. They can introduce a personal element into conversations but it is better led by them and not whomever they are communicating with.
- Drivers appreciate being motivated by referring to facts and to keeping the praise short and sweet! They tend to be well- organised, good delegators and time
Expressives tend to focus on people as much as the task and the people they are working with are important to them. They like to get a “handle” on people and tend to work better with those that they find stimulating and dynamic. They tend to like being “in on things” and do not generally like to take a back seat in whatever they do. Here’s some typical traits of the Expressive communication style:
- They focus like to have many things on the go at once.
- Not motivated much by detail unless it is something they are particularly keen on and this can change quickly as their attention is taken onto something “more exciting”.
- They do not tend to be strong on finishing things off, and their attention to detail can be
- Their decision-making process tends to be led by gut feel rather than facts.
- Can come across as being fast paced, like high levels of stimulation and can have a low boredom threshold.
- They like to share their thoughts, aspirations and personal anecdotes and can be very fun loving and very motivational.
- When there is bad news they can become very demotivated and only personal reassurance, and usually results, will reassure
- Highly motivated by personal and sometimes public praise they respond well if this is frequently
- Expressives often lack confidence and benefit from encouragement and
- Not usually very well organized or good time managers as they can easily be distracted by more attractive
People who favour this communication style also focus on people first and then the task and are very people orientated and approachable on a personal level. They feel comfortable in establishing personal relationships first before getting down to business and therefore respond well to small talk to “break the ice”. Here are the key traits of an Amiable:
- They are not overly concerned with detail more how it may affect people and this tends to be the same focus regarding their decision-making process.
- They minimise or avoid conflict as they find it particularly unproductive and uncomfortable.
- They are seen as very informal, approachable and personable, and for some, they may not be seen as being very assertive.
- Never aggressive, they often achieve what they want by a softer approach even if it takes a little longer than a more direct and forceful
- Generally well-organised and good time managers but they can be thrown by concern over people issues, which can distract them.
- They can find it difficult to delegate, as they may not like to “put upon” others.
- They also could find it difficult to say “no” and can get overloaded by work, as they like to co- operate and help others.
- Motivated by appreciation, the contribution they make to the team and how well they co-operate and assist others, Amiables respond well being praised for the effort they make and how hard they try to achieve whatever is required of
Analytics, as the names implies, tend to focus on the process of how a task is achieved and then possibly consider the people. They are very formal and tend to focus on the detail of how something will be achieved as much as what has to be achieved. Here’s the traits of an Analytic:
- They do not set direction but can be invaluable in causing the direction to be achieved through considering the process and how best to get there.
- Their decision-making process can be long and drawn out as their preference is for substantiated and qualified facts, so they can consider all angles before committing to a decision which they prefer to be right first time.
- Giving personal assurances and anecdotes does not tend to work very well with Analytics.
- They come across as being very considered, quiet and often thoughtful people. They do not like to rush and want to take their time to consider information. They are often experts in the things they like to do and be extremely knowledgeable.
- In group situations, they are not very vocal but when they do contribute, it is usually well worth listening to.
- They are motivated by acknowledgement of their knowledge and expertise.
- They often question and can be perceived as being cynical or even negative by the more spontaneous people like Expressives. Often the Analytic is merely attempting to understand and agree with the idea being discussed. Once they have agreed with the concept then they are fully committed to the idea. They do not take things at face value.
So which of the communication styles most closely reflects yours? And does this blog give some food for thought on how to interact with those colleagues that you may have found a little challenging to communicate with?
We hope this gives a good overview but if you feel your company would benefit from some more in-depth assessment and training to ensure your teams are able to work in a cohesive and open way, then please do get in touch for an informal chat on how we can help.