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How to manage different communication styles

My client Charles is a very collaborative and accommodating leader.

He is warm and sincere and is a very tactful communicator. 

Doesn’t he sound terrific!? 

Well, he is fabulous in so many ways. 

But his soft-spoken and thoughtful communication style can be problematic.

His style is especially problematic when working with his CEO, who has a very direct communication style and really values people who think on their feet.

The problem is that when Charles is asked to think on his feet he either:

  • Goes blank
  • Stumbles on his words
  • Offers an incomplete answer to the question 

This situation makes Charles feel deflated. He knows that if he had just 15 minutes to think about the question, he would provide a highly thorough and strategic response to his CEO. 

This situation with Charles and his CEO is a very common situation.

So, as a leader, don’t assume that everyone thinks and processes information in the same way that you do.

Don’t assume that your approach to communicating is the right approach either. 

We all have different communication stylesIt is really important to recognize that we all have different communication styles…and that each style has strengths and weaknesses. 

Here are the four most common communication styles:

  • Direct communicators: They speak quickly and to the point. They think on their feet with ease and make decisions quickly.
  • Inspirational communicators: They think while they are speaking, which helps them to make a decision. They enjoy brainstorming and like to communicate conceptually or in metaphors. They communicate enthusiastically and therefore are good at influencing others.
  • Supportive communicators: They require time to think about their responses. They like to gather their thoughts and then will share them with others. They often have a lot to contribute but might not share their thoughts unless others ask.
  • Analytical communicators: They like analyzing data and facts and processing information thoroughly. They communicate in a slower, more methodical way. They need others to communicate background information and details before they make a decision.

Which of these styles reflects how you communicate?

Moving forward, there are two things that you need to consider when communicating with others.

Firstly, think about how you can accommodate people with a different style than you.

Secondly, share with your colleagues your preferred method of communication. 

For example, in my coaching call with Charles this week, we developed a strategy for him to communicate more effectively with his CEO. 

The plan includes him saying, “I need to think about your question. I’ll get back to you in 15 minutes”. 

I love this assertive approach. It will really help Charles to leverage his communication style most effectively. 

That is the goal for all of us.

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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