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Communication Styles: Different Strokes for Different Folks

Sean Lynch, August 8, 2016


Communication Styles

How well do you communicate? Poor communication can have a profound impact on employee engagement and morale. One way to improve communication is to understand that “there are different strokes for different folks.” That is, different people have different ways that they prefer to give and receive information.

Leaders are more effective when they adapt their message to their audience. Increase the effectiveness of your communication, and your effectiveness as a leader, by trying to match your communication with the communication style of your listener.

Ask yourself these questions before communicating:

Does the listener want the big picture, or the details?

  • Some people only want the big picture. Certain communication styles want the goals and objectives without the details. Tell them what needs to be done in an efficient, and business-like manner.
  • Others will feel uncomfortable without the facts and figures. They like graphs and charts. Be prepared to answer lots of questions to ensure they have the information necessary to make a decision.

Does the listener have a need to interact with others?

  • Some people want to talk about their weekend, children, and hobbies and expect to hear the same from you. Allow a little time for socializing. Not relating on a personal level may come across as overly task-oriented to them.
  • On the other hand, too much chitchat will lose the attention of those who don’t need to interact with others.

Is the listener an external, or an internal processor?

  • External processers like to brainstorm out loud, make noticeable hand and facial gestures, and might interrupt. Give them an opportunity to take the lead for at least part of a conversation.
  • Internal processors tend to sit still with few gestures and have their arms crossed in front of them. They may not appear engaged while they assimilate information. Do not expect a quick response. Give them time to think.

Increase the effectiveness of your communication, and your effectiveness as a leader. Communicate in a way that has meaning to the listener. Match your communication to the communication style and preferences of your listener.

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