Communication is key. Knowing how to adapt your personal communication style in the workplace can determine how well another person understands your message.
When a team communicates effectively, success will be a natural result. We’ve all probably experienced a team that doesn’t know how to communicate well. The atmosphere is usually frosty, and everyone looks toward the exit, searching for another role. Whereas, Effective teams know how to share their ideas and make things happen.
Communicating at work is more than just a conversation. It is about exchanging information that can benefit the wider company in achieving its aims. Effective communication needs to happen within a team, between teams and between the company and its customers. Doing it well in all these areas will improve the overall company performance.
Therefore, Knowing the different communication styles and how to edit yours can help you significantly improve your work and your team’s success.
Communication, the human connection, is the key to personal and professional success.Paul J Mayer
Your communication style and your personality
Your personality is the bases for your communication style in the workplace. But it doesn’t have to be the determining factor. Your personality is more fluid than you may realise. If you think you’re a shy, reserved person- it’s because you tell yourself this story day in, day out. However, You can change that internal dialogue at any point. You are different from the person you were ten years ago, with different interests and beliefs. You will obviously be a different person in another ten years.
I once thought of myself as a shy, socially awkward person. But the moment I stopped telling myself that message, I could create a more empowering concept of myself. I worked through my own self imposed limitations. Those that prevented me from achieving my potential. Today, I help others do the same with coaching as I enjoy seeing others grow.
People often tell me they are this way or that. But we have a habit of finding the evidence that supports our narrative and ignoring anything to the contrary. A client recently told me he wanted to be calmer because he was always stressed. But, I soon discovered in our conversation that he was calm through much of the day. For instance, when meeting friends in a bar and at home in the evenings, he knew how to have a good time. When he realised that not everything stressed him, he could release the belief that prevented him from genuinely finding peace.
As you read through the communication styles below, notice the style you probably use now and think of ways to alter your message so that a wider variety of people understand it. Remember, your personality is fluid. There is no reason you have to use just one communication style. In fact, the more you use, the better others will connect to what you say.
Communication styles in the workplace
There are four communication styles, which form a neat acronym: SAID
We likely use all the styles. However, we also have our preferred one and relying on just that can limit how others resonate with our message. So, being flexible and tailoring what you have to say will help others understand you. Because just like you have your prefered style, they too have theirs. When you know all four, you can alter your message successfully to reach everyone.
Sometimes, it can be surprisingly quick to discover what communication style someone uses just by listening to how they express themselves. The more we get to know a person, the more we understand how to naturally modify what we say to fit that person or situation. With louder and more social friends, you probably recognise how differently you communicate with them when compared to someone who prefers a quieter chat.
Ultimately, the challenge with communication is expressing yourself to as broad an audience as possible, ensuring that all can connect with it.
By just taking a moment to recognise and account for the different communication styles, your message may resonate in the way you intend. For example, I ensure I use all four styles to connect with as many people as possible when I present.
The first communication style in the workplace is supportive. These people tend to prefer human connection and creating harmony in the workplace or at home. Therefore, they are usually approachable and make great listeners. When having a conversation, you may notice they discuss feelings and emotions rather than hard, cold facts.
These people may be shyer and more reserved than someone with a different style. So, please don’t put them on the spot because it will make them feel uncomfortable.
To tailor your communication to speak with a supportive communicator, add emotional language, and you will notice a huge difference. If you are discussing a sales report, you might want to say how proud you are that the team have worked so hard this quarter and how pleased you are with the tremendous effort of everyone.
These kinds of descriptive phrases will make your message more dynamic and resonate better.
However, descriptive detail and emotional language don’t suit everyone. You could come across as too touchy-feely if you use emotive language when speaking to someone who doesn’t like to discuss emotions.
The next type of communicator is analytical, and these people have a thirst for numbers and value information. They like to know all the facts before they make any decision. So give them plenty of time to digest what you are presenting, either before or after the meeting. Asking them to respond before they have had the opportunity to scrutinise the data would not suit their style. They really pay attention to the details, which takes time and space.
Similarly, if you present an opinion or value judgement without anything to substantiate it, it can raise their suspicions. Comments like the team are working great will only create confusion because it would be unclear what you were basing that on.
Therefore, if you discuss your team’s or company’s performance, base your presentation around numbers and facts. Tell them exact percentages that demonstrate how the team is doing and steer away from any emotive language as they might view it as inappropriate.
However, this type of communication wouldn’t suit those with a more personal style as you could appear cold and less relatable.
The next communication style in the workplace is initiating. These people are sociable, enthusiastic, and fun-loving. You will easily spot them because they have stories and love to tell them. They enjoy a good get-together or a party because they are people-centred and extroverted. They place a lot of value on relationships and bonds.
Relationships with an initiating personality are easy because they seek out connection because of their social nature. Talking with them often involves a long, detailed chat because it’s surprisingly easy to get side-tracked.
Use storytelling to share how your team has found the past quarter with these communicators. Highlight the key moments of what happened. This approach will resonate with an initiating communicator because it will give them the whole picture.
However, this kind of communication can come across as long-winded and is not for everyone, especially those who want the speaker to get right to the point.
The last communication style is direct. These communicators are decisive and to the point. Direct communicators are ambitious and task-focused, which often means they are in management. They can come across as demanding because they don’t use any niceties and like to get to the point.
Furthermore, they don’t like detail or explore much of anything in-depth. So, you may find the conversation jumps around quite regularly. Bear this in mind. If they start a new topic, they probably have all the information they need.
When communicating with direct communicators, it’s important to get to the point and not add more than is necessary.
It can be intimidating to communicate with these people as they don’t appear friendly but don’t feel judged. It is just their way. When you communicate with them, give them exactly what they need to know to create a satisfying relationship. If discussing a quarterly report, I might add some of the figures and note if it was successful or not. Anything more would be too much.
This style isn’t suitable for everyone as it can appear cold, demanding, and unpleasant.
Which style is the best?
No style is better than any other and in fact, relying on one in life is not a good idea. The purpose of the post is to draw your attention to the four styles and help you edit your message so that your audience understands you. A successful communicator will use all four communication styles in the workplace.
If you are keen to get into leadership, don’t think you need to be a direct communicator. A direct communicator might make a manager, but it won’t necessarily make a good leader. Good leaders will know how to utilise all four styles and have the emotional intelligence to recognise which type to use, with which individual, and in which situation.
The more individualised your message is, the better. It will make the person you are speaking to feel valued and respected.