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Published on October 30, 2018

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

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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