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How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office

How to Work with Different Communication Styles in the Office

We all have our own unique way of communicating with each other. This is true in our personal lives as well as at work.

We all have run into people at both work and play that we just don’t seem to get. Not only do we not hit it off with them, we honestly have a hard time understanding the point they are making. It can be very frustrating interacting with someone when it seems like we are miles apart in the understanding department.

On the flip side, it’s awesome when we hit it off with people that just seem to “get us”. The conversation flows and there is an immediate sense of connection. There’s a reason for that.

In this article, we will look at 4 different communication styles. While we will focus on how to understand and work with different communication styles at the office, this can hold true in our personal lives as well. It will benefit you greatly at work to be cognizant of these different communication styles.

Once you are familiar with them, you will find it easier to navigate communicating with different communication styles at the office.

Let’s look at four primary communication styles at work.

4 Communication Styles

There are certainly more than 4 communication styles. We all have our own unique way of communicating.

Most people tend to have components of the communication that will place them more towards one of these 4 styles. It’s worth noting that very few of us fit exactly into one of these communication styles. We do have a stronger tendency and show attributes towards one or two.

Let’s take a look at the four primary communication styles. You will see characteristics in yourself that have similarities to one or more of these.

It also helps provide you with some insight into others communication style. This will allow you to be more aware of how we talk, interact, and communicate with each other and help you be a more effective communicator.

1. Functional

A functional communicator is someone who likes to get deep into the details. Someone who likes to understand how everything works.

They tend to be methodical, process driven and very detail oriented. He or she likes to work with timelines and milestones.

Think of a functional communicator like a detail oriented project manager. They like to see the whole picture as well as the details that make it all happen.

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A functional communicator likes to ensure they have a full understanding of projects before they kick things off and get started.

Functional communicators rarely make big mistakes because they focus on the many details. People like working with functional communicators because they work on a granular level and uncover possible mistakes that can be made.

Jumping right into something and “winging it” makes a functional communicator very uncomfortable. They can tend to be long winded and over detailed so when presenting to others don’t be surprised to see numerous glassy eyes in the audience.

2. Analytical

Analytical communicators have similarities to functional communicators. They tend to be less emotional. They like hard numbers and are data driven.

An analytical communicator likes direct conversation and does not do well with ambiguity or shades of gray. They tend to be good at making fair, fact based decisions without the emotional baggage attached to it. They sometimes come off as cold and emotionless.

Analytical communicators have little patience for emotional words and feelings when communicating. When you tell them sales are down, they want to know how much, as in a specific percentage.

One of their really great assets is that they are able to look at issues logically and analytically. On the downside, other people sometimes think of them as detached and robotic.

3. Personal

People with a personal communication style value emotional language and connection. They find a lot of value in not just what someone is saying and what they are thinking but also how they are feeling.

Being good listeners and a tendency to being diplomatic are trademarks of the personal communicator. A personal communication style can help smooth over conflicts and are very interested in the health of relationships.

Personal communicators really value connection and use that as a way to discovering how someone is truly thinking and feeling.

A huge upside to a personal communicator is that their style of communication tends to build deep personal relationship with others. They can be the glue that keeps things together.

On the downside, personal communicators can be viewed as too “touch feely” or “warm and fuzzy” by analytical communicators. I have a lot of traits of a personal communicator.

4. Intuitive

People with an intuitive communication style like to see the big picture. They don’t like getting bogged down in the weeds or too many details.

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When communicating, many times they will get right to the point without any fluff. They don’t have to hear the whole story or chain of events to get to the end result, just skip right to the good stuff.

As you might imagine the upside to an intuitive communicator is that, they are direct. No nonsense and extra information needed, just right to the end game.

The not as great side to being an intuitive communicator is they usually lack patience. When dealing with other communication styles, they lose interest and focus fast. They aren’t big fans of all the details or the step by step process that led something from point A to point B.

Again, they are great at looking at the big picture and being direct in communication. They aren’t so great in the details pieces of communication which can be an issue.

How To Work With Different Communication Styles

Now that we’ve taken a look at the 4 primary communication styles, let’s take a look at how to work with each style at the office.

In this section, you will learn the best way to interact and communicate with each style. As a reminder, understanding different communication styles will help you work and communicate better at work.

How to Work with a Functional Communicator

When you work with a functional communicator here are some key points to keep in mind.

The whole picture

Remember, functional communicators like to see the details in relation to the whole picture. Therefore, it’s a good idea to show them the complete plans of what you are speaking to them about.

Same thing goes in a written communication. They like to take the time to review the entire process and details. It’s important to them to understand their role and responsibilities in the project.

Provide feedback

Functional communicators enjoy hearing feedback throughout the journey. Provide them with your input on how they are doing. They are typically open to feedback from their peers.

Questions

They will tend to ask a lot of questions. Again, this comes from wanting to understand the entire scope of the project before they get going.

Allow them to ask as many questions as they need. A functional communicator will work best with a boss or manager that allows them to ask a lot of of questions AND will provide real feedback.

This is of major importance to remember when working with a functional communicator at the office.

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How to Work with an Analytical Communicator

Bring the numbers

As a reminder, analytical communicators like numbers and hard facts. When you interact with an analytical communicator, be ready to back up your story with facts and figures.

Data means everything to this communication style so the more you bring, the better off things will go.

Be logical Spock

Just like Spock was always spouting about how things were or weren’t logical, so is the analytical communicator. They live in the logical world and don’t have high regard for emotions.

When they are ready to make a decision, it is almost always based on the numbers, not on how they feel about it.

Cut the chit chat

Analytical communicators aren’t great conversationalists. They don’t like stories that make a point.

When you interact with this communication style, get to the point with your data and facts and figures. Don’t waste your breath on small talk. At least don’t spend much time on the small talk and chit chat.

How to Work with a Personal Communicator

Open up

Remember that personal communicators focus first and foremost on relationships. They like to understand what someone is feeling as well as thinking.

Be willing to share with them how you feel about a subject. It doesn’t have to be anything too personal but more about if you are feeling good or not about how a project is going. That’s what is important to them.

Personally, I respond very well when someone opens up to me about how they are feeling about something. In my opinion, it develops a sense of trust.

Be live

Personal communicators respond better to conversation in real life as opposed to over email or the phone.

Whenever possible, talk to them in person. They thrive on the in person experience and don’t always respond well to emails.

Don’t sweat the data

Personal communicators don’t respond as well to data and metrics and numbers nearly as much as emotion and connections.

Unlike analytical and functional communicators who love and thrive on data, it doesn’t do much for the personal communicator.

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Don’t worry too much about providing detailed numbers to back up your point. I enjoy data to a point but can’t spend too much time analyzing a spreadsheet.

How to Work with an Intuitive Communicator

Short and sweet

Since intuitive communicators like to understand the big picture without the details, it’s best to keep conversations short and sweet.

Don’t worry about bringing lots of details and instructions. Keep the conversation on point.

Feel free to provide a quick overview of the steps of the process or the big picture overview but don’t get into the weeds. An intuitive communicator will lose patience and interest fast.

Provide visuals

As intuitive communicators like to see the whole picture, having a visual or two is great when interacting with them.

Don’t be surprised if they whip out a pen and paper, and begin sketching the idea you are talking about. Being able to see it and not just speak it goes a long way with an intuitive communicator.

Allow ideas

They love being able to see and understand the big picture. If you are managing an intuitive communicator, allow them the space to share their ideas.

Let them talk to you about their ideas, and provide them with an outlet for sharing the big picture ideas they bring to the table. This can be a real asset if you allow it and conversely a point of contention if you don’t.

Conclusion

We’ve taken a look at 4 major communication styles that many of us see in the office. Now that you have a good understanding of the communication styles, take a look at yourself and see what your communication style is.

Do any of these seem like you?

Like most of us, you probably visualize yourself as primarily being like one of the 4 styles with some traits of one or two of the others.

It’s important to keep these communication styles in mind when working with others. Once you understand and work with different communication styles in the office, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively. And communicating more effectively with others at the office will pay rich dividends in your career.

Featured photo credit: Avatar of user rawpixel rawpixel @rawpixel rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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