From a very young age, I understood the power of effective communication. Growing up, I suffered from social anxiety and struggled with starting conversations and keeping them going.
I have always marveled at how some people have this uncanny ability to command a room. They ease their way into a group like a conversation maestro and get their point across smoothly all the time.
So, I began to study the art of communication. My first lesson in effective communication was that speaking well does not automatically make someone a good communicator.
Instead, someone with effective communication is able to adapt to different communication styles.
People come from many walks of life, with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. Thus, it is only natural that different people have different communication styles.
Even if everyone is trying to convey the same message, they will have their own unique way of communicating.
Understanding the various communication modalities will help you become a more versatile communicator in your day-to-day interactions with others. You will also gain some insights into what motivates them, what they want to avoid, and what makes them happy.
If you are able to understand how another person is communicating, you will be able to persuade him or her to your way of thinking. This means that you will be able to appeal to their style and ‘speak their language’.
And the more you are able to do this, the better your communication will fare.
Basically, there are four distinct communication styles. Each communication style requires a different persuasion strategy to successfully get your message across.
Each of these communication styles are unique and no one style is better than another. When you get familiar with the unique characteristics that each style possesses, it will make you a better communicator.
In order for you to be persuasive in your communication, you need to be able to identify which communication strategy the other person is using.
Only then can you use the right strategy to put your points across convincingly and effortlessly.
There are two significant differences separating these four effective communication styles:
A person who is data-driven might say “Our productivity has increased by 3% this quarter.” Someone who thrives on interpersonal relationships would say, “We really did well as a team this quarter.”
A person who prefers linear explanations will communicate things in a step-by-step manner. The freeform approach will mean going directly to the outcome and skipping over the details.
Now let’s explore the four communication styles and form communication strategies around them.
Rational Communicators, as the name suggests, are more inclined to include hard facts and data when communicating with you.
In your conversation with someone who is a rational communicator, you need to be able to provide accurate facts and data. Otherwise, they can get very suspicious and doubtful of you.
Be ready to get down to the specifics with them and use very precise words. Choose your words meticulously. This is not the time to say something artfully vague like “I feel that we are going to do great this month.”
Rational communicators rarely let feelings come between actions and results. It is all about the bottom line for them. They have very little regard for people who inject a lot of emotions into their communication.
Give them the hard facts. “We will need to put in an extra 2 hours in order to increase our productivity by 5%” will sound better to them than “let’s roll our sleeves up together and work hand in hand to grow as a team.”
They approach issues and problems in a rational and impassive manner.
You could be perceived as a cold, uncaring person who can be easily irked by someone who seems vague and unclear in their communication.
By nature, you think logically and in a rational manner. Hence, you have the tendency to process information in a very dispassionate way. You can easily be misunderstood as unapproachable and in conversations, this might be your stumbling block to rapport building.
As a rational communicator, be conscious and sensitive towards the person you are communicating with. Although you don’t need to break away from being rational, you can exercise some versatility and inject some emotional cues into your conversations.
Results-based communicators think about the big picture and let others handle the details. They have a ‘dominant’ personality style with a ‘no-nonsense’ approach.
Just think of the CEO who wants to see the end results but does not want to be hindered by statistics or numbers. They don’t like getting bogged down by numbers, details, and statistics.
When you converse with a results-based communicator, it would be prudent to jump right into the real issue minus the details. Be quick and get to the point. If a results-based communicator wants details, he would not hesitate to ask you for them.
Even in casual conversations, results-based communicators talk fast and have a low tolerance for people who keep repeating themselves. Another thing you need to remember is to be solution-focused in your communication with them.
Details and step-by-step processes might bore you to death. You want to know what the outcome is without being mired by ‘unnecessary’ details.
Patience is usually not your strongest suite. If there is any consolation, you are direct, to the point and never back down from epic challenges.
Another facet of effective communication is building rapport. Allow others to walk you through the details and try to nod your head in acknowledgement when they do so.
I know it’s a huge hurdle for a results-based communicator to listen patiently while someone else ‘bores’ the living daylights out of you.
Practical communicators will try to take you through in sequential detail. Relationship-based communicators will start by establishing a personal relationship with you.
With rational communicators, it is all about solid facts without any emotional authentication. You can usually control the conversation by artfully reminding them to focus on the big picture.
If this works, it might help them cut to the chase sooner than later.
People who fall under this category tend to be on the other end of the spectrum from the results-based communicator. For practical communicators, the devil is in the details.
So, to achieve effective communication with practical communicators, indulge them in processes, sequences, and deadlines. Show them how many skills and competence you possess and they will be bedazzled by you.
When communicating with a practical communicator, insert lots of facts and details into your conversation. As the name suggests, they are practical people.
Thus, if you can display your practicality by speaking in their ‘language’, they will warm up to you.
Don’t even think of winning them over with your charm and personality when you first approach a practical communicator. It would be much easier to impress them with spreadsheets, data and details.
Once you have eased yourself into their world and only after they feel comfortable in your presence, can you converse about hobbies and common interests.
Everything must be done in a step-by-step fashion. You don’t like missing out on a detail because that would mean the likelihood of making mistakes and wrong decisions.
Being accurate is one of your strengths, and you can be relied on to follow procedures and establish protocols. But one distinct disadvantage for you is that people can perceive you as boring and unappealing.
These days, people are spoiled by how quickly they can get information and facts from the internet. So, they are used to getting things quickly.
In a conversation, your challenge is to get to the point as quickly as you can. People might not have the time for the nitty-gritty.
This means if you take your time to impress them with your skills and knowledge, you might end up losing your audience before you even get started.
If you meet up with a results-based communicator, you might not get very far after “hello” if they feel that you will bog them down with details. Try to resist the temptation of giving too much.
Just stick to the 3S – Short, Sweet, and Simple.
Your greatest challenge could be conversing with a relationship-based communicator because you tend to avoid feelings and emotions in your conversation. If that is the case, just get familiar with some words that trigger emotions and use them sparingly in your communication.
You can use this A Wheel Of Eight Emotions created by Professor Robert Plutchik. Just pick out some key words (such as joy, surprise, trust, fear, anticipation, anger, sadness, and disgust) and inject them into your conversation with a relationship-based communicator.
Relationship-based communicators are driven by human connection. This means they are inclined to speak at an emotional and personal level.
They will try to charm you with their personality and take a genuine interest in how you feel. For relationship-based communicators, emotional connection is very important. They have the ability to bond with someone and create strong personal relationships.
Relationship-based communicators are good listeners and very approachable. Remember to strike up a personal connection with them when you speak with them.
You might compromise logic in favor of emotion. . There is a high chance that you will overlook facts and logic because you let emotions cloud your judgment.
As a relationship-based communicator, be wary of the fact that you often take things personally. And it is easy for you to become a victim of deception and double-cross.
Your strength is that you are very sensitive to shifts in people’s moods and also good at being a mediator and resolving conflicts.
However, when dealing with a rational communicator, you might want to put your feelings aside. Your strategy would be to use more supportive data and facts. Avoid emotional undertones.
Even if you are compelled to pour out your feelings, do it sporadically. Focus instead on outcomes that are rational and logic-based.
When you approach a practical communicator, data must be addressed methodically. And please explain the processes from start to finish.
Do not skip parts or jump back and forth when narrating facts, or you will lose the attention of a practical communicator.
With a results-based communicator, the focus of the conversation will be on results. Whatever it is you are discussing, get to the gist of it as fast as you can.
They want to know the outcome and you can skip the details, no matter how juicy they are.
I have been writing about speaking and conversing. There is another aspect of effective communication that it of utmost importance.
Not just listening, but listening with intent. Only by listening will you be able to identify what kind of communication style you will be dealing with.
Messages are readily misconstrued if one lacks the skill to listen effectively.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
The key to effective communication is being mindful of your words. And it all begins with listening with intent. So, do think before you speak.
And I concur with the Dalai Lama’s take on listening:
“When you talk you are only repeating what you know: but when you listen, you learn something new.”
To become someone who can persuade and communicate effectively, you must have a good understanding of your emotions as well as others’ emotions. Emotional reactions often tip the scale in decision-making.
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