In today’s corporate world, leaders need excellent communication skills. Many are being asked to do more with fewer resources while also dealing with the stresses of a corporation that is downsizing and/or tightening budgets. To remain effective, leaders need near perfect communication skills regardless of their own communication type. Understanding the style of the person you are communicating with can make the difference between getting your message across and getting it across well.
Consider these four communication styles and how you can effectively communicate with each one.
These are your CEOs in attitude. They are competitive, goal-oriented, demanding, task-oriented and fast-paced. To these people, time is money and money is time. You know where you stand since they are blunt and direct in their communication. Their biggest fear is losing control and they ask the “What” questions. The “aggressor-asserter” has key strengths that include providing momentum, providing focus and making quick decisions. Their “on top of it” approach to projects can keep the rest of the team on target or even get it done early. This must be balanced with their weaknesses, however, which include overstepping their assignments, taking over tasks that have been assigned to others (and not necessarily because they can do them better, they just want to get them done).
To effectively connect with the aggressor-asserter, you must:
- Be brief, direct and concise
- Provide options
- Keep a quick pace
- Focus on results and return-on-investment
- Avoid providing lots of details
- Provide short answers
- Look them straight in the eyes
- Be truthful
These individuals are charismatic, enthusiastic, persuasive, lively, loud, talkative, friendly, people-oriented and social. They are also visual and creative. Their biggest fear is social rejection and they ask the “who” questions. The “socializer’ is a great motivator. In the most organizations, they are on sales team. They are creative and enjoy brainstorming. They do not keep track of time well and sometimes work tight to deadlines. They enjoy being the center of attention.
To effectively communicate with the socializer, you must:
- Allow time for social interaction
- Put details in writing or email
- Have a fast pace, positive approach
- Use a whiteboard in your discussions (socializers are quite visual)
- Use phrases like “Picture this” or “Do You See”
- Avoid a harsh, aggressive tone
These individuals are calm, level-headed, great listeners, team-oriented, introverted and loyal. They make decisions in a consensus manner. Mediators like to marinate on questions—you will not get an answer immediately. They dislike conflict so they will internalize and tolerate it. As a result, this internalization builds until they explode. Their biggest fear is loss of stability and they ask the “How” questions. Team and project managers are typically fall into this style. Weaknesses include being hesitant in their approach slowing decision-making—they are going to try to keep everyone happy at the expense of their happinesss. Mediators are hard-working who are humble and do not pat themselves on the back. They make great teachers/trainers and mentors due to their calming and supportive nature.
To effectively connect with the mediator, you must:
- Be patient and logical
- Use a steady, low-key approach
- Involve mediators in the planning process
- Praise them privately
- Allow time for “marination of ideas”—you will not get a quick answer
- Start conversation with a warm and friendly greeting
- Keep your tone of voice at discussion level
These individuals are meticulous, detail-oriented, introverted and task-oriented. They can be considered perfectionists, and they are suspicious of others. They may answer a question with a question. Their biggest fear is criticism of work and they ask the “why” questions. Key strengths of the “analyzer” include being detailed-oriented, superb problem solvers and providing the team’s reality check. Weaknesses include having tunnel vision on projects and looking for the perfect solution.
To effectively communicate with the analyzer, you must:
- Be organized and logical
- Support your position using facts
- Make sure that each point is understood before moving to the next point
- Do not use the phrase “Let me give you some constructive advice”
- Use words such as process, data and procedure
- Realize that analyzers are motivated by quality and data
Communicating effectively with the various types is an art. Understanding a person’s style allows you to create harmony and avoid confusion. Developing your “adaptitude”—your ability to adapt your communication style to the listener—is a critical element of being an effective team member. When you are able to recognize the various styles and adjust your approach, your life will be easier and void of the common communication “ills.”
Ted Gorski is a professional certified coach and president of Get Your Edge, LLC. He works with emerging leaders to create extraordinary results through coaching, workshops, teambuilding and assessments.