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Let me start by setting the scene. It was mid-week in November and at this stage in the year I expected it to ease up from a workload perspective… wishful thinking, it didn’t. So as you can imagine, when I received an email from our L&D team that I was required to attend a communication style training course, I had to actively stop myself from picking up my keyboard and banging it against my head.
Reading on, my manager had put me forward for the training – really? Communication styles? Surely that’s pretty self-explanatory. We talk, we listen, we action and get on with our day. This way of thinking may have already flagged to you what type of a communication style I tend to gravitate towards.
To say I was skeptical about attending the training is an understatement; what could I learn that I didn’t already know? Well, if you think driver, analytical, expressive and amiable are types of screw drivers then read on to learn about the different styles and become a more effective communicator.
Self awareness is powerful for personal and professional growth, so read on to find out which of the four main communication styles below you fall into. I spoke to four of my colleagues who each fall into one category and asked them how they like to be communicated with – try and remember these tips when you next need a favour from someone at work!
It’s all in the name; these individuals like to take control and tend to lead. They are very direct communicators with a ‘do it now’ attitude, focused on the end goal and results. Drivers are seen to be very direct and don’t like wasting time.
Drivers are often considered to be competitive as they thrive on the thrill of a challenge and the motivation to succeed. Some may say they are dominating and pushy, or may be misinterpreted as an aggressive communication style… I beg to differ, it's an assertive communication style. When it comes to decision making, drivers tend to be autocratic; they know what they want to do and they do it. Co-operating with others isn’t really one of their strongest skills. Well, if you haven’t guessed already, this one is my own communication style!
What is the best way of communicating with a driver?
“If there is a task at hand I usually take control, so it’s important for co-workers to work towards a goal or result by setting key actions. Those who work with me need to be quick and productive, beating around the bush won’t fly with me; I like the team to get to the point.
When faced with challenges and obstacles, the team should be quick to react. I tend to get impatient with colleagues who take ages to make decisions and require an input from everyone before taking action.”
Analytical people are known for being systematic, organised and detail orientated. They value accuracy and are big fans of facts and numbers. Give them a bullet-pointed list of what’s required, when and why, and they will love you for it!
They want to make sure what they say is accurate as they like to be right, so typically they are quick to think and slow to speak. These individuals seek a lot of data and ask a lot of questions at work as they have a constant thirst for facts.
People with an analytical communication style tend to follow a logical approach when making decisions. Others might perceive them to be overly cautious and structured, as well as perfectionists at work. Some may say they do things too much ‘by the book’.
What is the best way of communicating with an analytical?
“I like structured emails, highlighting the background, listing down actions in a bullet format, mentioning deadlines and when is it needed by, so that it is easy to prioritise and get the work done.
Also, I want facts and figures to support the activities we are planning to do so that I can have a vision about the process or activity, which will help me do my analysis and provide sound and succinct recommendations.”
Expressives thrive on vision and focus on the big picture. As a result these individuals are seen as the ‘ideas people’ who tend to leave the planning and details for others to handle. Those with this style are creative, optimistic and enthusiastic.
Typically, they are focused more on people rather than tasks and enjoy being involved and included in conversations. Recognition and status are important to them, so they build relationships to help them gain power. If you are looking to make some new friends and expand your network then these are the go to people!
The expressives in our office can easily be identified as they are usually the loudest voices, who like to have a chit-chat and will finish your sentence off for you! They can be highly opinionated, however don’t like to argue as they tend not to deal well with conflict.
What is the best way of communicating with an expressive?
“I like to be communicated with in a pleasant and friendly manner. I prefer a meeting in the first instance. I respond well to someone getting to know me before launching into the agenda of a meeting or the reason for their call – rapport building is important to me. Remembering something personal about me goes a long way to building a personal and professional relationship.
I use humour and stories a lot to make my point, so appreciate this in return. Anything too formal doesn’t feel personalised enough for me and communication which is purely instructive (such as the entire email in the subject line) I perceive as rude.”
Hello. How are you? How has your day been?… Now let’s get down to business.
This is the approach that works with amiables, as they like to build a rapport with greetings before jumping into discussing work. When it comes to co-operation, they win hands down. They thrive on participation, inclusion and involvement. Win these individuals over by consulting them and asking for their opinion.
Uncertainty doesn’t bode well with amiables; they like direction and are happy to take responsibility and work until the job is done, provided there is a plan. They tend to prioritise the relationships around them and prefer to work with other people in a team effort.
When it comes to decision making they like to be cautious, which can come across as a passive communication style, painting them as unsure and hesitant by those who possess other communication styles.
What is the best way of communicating with an amiable?
“I like to be communicated with in a friendly and relaxed tone – communication that is too blunt or direct tends to throw me off guard. For people I don’t know well, I prefer to be communicated to via email, so I can think about how to respond (since I don’t have a relationship with that person). However, if I have a good relationship with that person, I just as much prefer talking over the phone or face-to-face.
I prefer speaking with a decision maker as they can lead the conversation and there are clear actions/outcomes – I know my role and can support. In speaking with another amiable, sometimes things can take longer because actions are not clear, because no one wants to tell the other what to do!”
Understanding different communication styles at work offers numerous benefits. It fosters effective collaboration and teamwork by enabling individuals to communicate in a manner that resonates with their colleagues. By recognising and adapting to diverse communication preferences, teams can minimise misunderstandings, build stronger relationships, and enhance overall productivity.
Additionally, understanding different communication styles promotes inclusivity and diversity, as it acknowledges and respects the unique perspectives and approaches of team members from various backgrounds. This leads to a more harmonious and supportive work environment, where everyone feels valued and heard.
Ultimately, mastering your personal communication style is an invaluable asset for career advancement, as it enhances visibility, credibility, and the overall ability to influence others positively. Your personal communication style can be a significant advantage. Having a clear and effective communication style allows you to confidently articulate your ideas, perspectives, and achievements, enabling you to stand out and be noticed by colleagues, management, and decision-makers.
Whichever communication style you or your colleagues naturally prefer, remember active listening is always important for healthy relationships and important for good communication skills. It's worth mentioning that an aggressive style of communication or silent treatment is not appropriate in the workplace.
Outside of the four different communication styles, aggressive and passive communication styles are two distinct approaches that can significantly impact interactions in the workplace. An aggressive communication style involves forceful, dominating behaviour where individuals may display hostility, use intense eye contact, raise their voices, or use confrontational language to assert their opinions or demands. This style often disregards the feelings and perspectives of others, creating an intimidating and tense atmosphere that hinders collaboration and damages relationships.
On the other hand, passive communication, also known as a submissive communication style involves a reluctance to express one's needs, opinions, or boundaries. Individuals with a passive style tend to avoid conflict, often suppressing their thoughts and feelings, which can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and an overall lack of assertiveness. Both communication styles are ineffective in fostering healthy communication and can hinder productivity and cooperation within teams. Developing a balanced and assertive communication style is crucial for creating a positive and constructive work environment.
A passive-aggressive communicator combines elements of both aggressive and passive communication styles, expressing their dissatisfaction or anger indirectly through sarcasm, subtle jabs, or backhanded compliments, often undermining trust and creating tension among colleagues.
Assertive communication differs from aggressive communication in its approach and intention. Assertive communication involves expressing one's thoughts, feelings, and needs in a respectful and direct manner, while also considering the rights and perspectives of others. It aims to clearly convey one's message without resorting to intimidating body language, manipulation, or hostile behaviour.
In contrast, aggressive communicators forcefully assert one's opinions, demands, or desires without regard for the feelings or rights of others. It often involves confrontational language, shouting, or personal attacks, with the intention of overpowering or dominating the conversation.
An assertive communicator promotes healthy dialogue, constructive problem-solving, and the maintenance of positive relationships, whereas aggressive communication tends to create hostility, tension, and breakdowns in communication.
Having trouble communicating with your colleagues? Find out how to manage office politics for healthier work relationships.
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