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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

Living a Complete Life Guru. Writing about the importance of having a well rounded life and how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happinness

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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