Everybody Talks: 4 Communication Styles You Should Know About

by | Sep 11, 2017

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Because delivery counts, especially at work.

After decades of research, Mark Murphy and his team at Leadership IQ, identified four distinct communication styles:

  1. Analytical: Think data.
  2. Intuitive: Think big picture.
  3. Functional: Think process.
  4. Personal: Think emotions.

No one style is best, of course. We’re all different, which is why understanding each one is essential to collaboration, to getting things done.

If you don’t know your own style, it’s hard to be self-aware in conversation.

If you don’t know your audience’s style, it’s hard to optimize your delivery.

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4 Common Communication Styles

At work, whether you’re speaking to one person or a hundred, you’re probably selling something: A product or service, a concept or an approach.

At work, whether you’re speaking to one person or a hundred, you’re probably selling something: A product or service, a concept or an approach.

Closing the sale, then, is about more than the substance of your pitch. It’s about your delivery. It’s about how you connect with your audience.

So much of that process comes down to mirroring the other side’s natural communication style, which is usually one of the following:

1. Analytical: Meet Craig

Craig is an analytical communicator.

He likes hard figures. He’s data-driven, meaning he doesn’t like to make a decision unless there are concrete numbers behind it. He also appreciates direct conversation. Ambiguous, cryptic language annoys Craig, who prefers objectivity.

Craig is less emotional, so he’s perceived as reliable and dependable, capable of making fair, fact-based choices.

He’s also forthright, sometimes to a fault. He can come off cold, even detached from the human condition.

When speaking with Craig:

Lead with numbers. Talk data.

2. Intuitive: Meet Carol

Carol is an intuitive communicator.

She likes cutting to the chase. She’s a big-picture thinker, focusing on results rather than process. In other words, she doesn’t think in linear terms. In her mind, the play-by-play takes a backseat to the ultimate goal. The details exhaust her.

Carol is efficient, always going, always doing. She’s an action-oriented person, eager to get to the point and mark things off the list.

She’s also impatient, especially with methodical, process-driven people. Her disdain for detail causes her to lose interest and interrupt, which can be counterproductive if she misses an important point.

When speaking with Carol:

Lead with the end in mind. Be brief.

3. Functional: Meet Charles

Charles is a functional communicator.

He’s in the weeds. He’s methodical, process-driven, and detail-oriented. If he’s planning a project, he does so against a timeline. If he’s presenting a plan, he does so systematically, laying things out neatly. He doesn’t like diving in too quickly. A head-first approach makes him uncomfortable.

Charles rarely makes big mistakes, so colleagues lean on his focus. People are confident in his ability to highlight small issues that could lead to big consequences.

But he can be long-winded, providing more detail than necessary. His thorough style can cause audiences to tune out.

When speaking with Charles:

Lead with specific questions. Guide him a bit.

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4. Personal: Meet Christina

Christina is a personal communicator.

She likes connecting with people. She’s emotionally intelligent, astute and perceptive. She’s good at relationships because she values them, truly. Ever-tactful and diplomatic, listening is her strong-suit.

Christina is a safe, trustworthy presence, which makes her easy to talk to and confide in, especially when things are falling apart.

But she doesn’t like conflict and tension, which hinders her ability to provide a perspective.

When speaking with Christina:

Lead with yourself. Be open and expressive. Be you.

Where do you fall?

If you don’t already know, take the test.

The better you understand yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to amend your approach, optimize your delivery, and get what you want.

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