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What Style are You & How does it Influence your Communication Strategy
All of us fall into one of four behavioral styles and all of these styles have different attributes. For example, we are either an analytical, an amiable, a driver or an expressive. So let’s look at the differences of each of these particular styles, their pros and cons and how they influence our communication strategy. When I first began studying styles, I mistakenly believed that managers in very senior positions had to be drivers.
As the years went by I noticed that it was absolute nonsense. The greatest manager I ever worked for was an amiable of note. One always thinks that a friendly person like that couldn’t be a captain of industry and yet they often are. Some of the greatest people I have worked with have been analyticals and some of the worst people I have worked with have been analyticals. So, you begin discovering that your style has nothing to do with how successful you are or aren’t. I have seen many drivers that are lazy and ineffective and I have seen many amiables that are extremely driven. It is merely the style in which you approach your work and it has nothing to do with your effectiveness.
Can we Change our Personal Style?
Let’s look at the different styles in order for you to determine which one is your natural style. The good news is that when we are with someone who has a completely different style to our own, we can change our natural style for a short period of time to match theirs. The research shows that it is around 40 minutes and then we revert back to our natural style; this is appropriately called matching. So if you are with a very analytical person and you are a very exuberant expressive, there is nothing wrong with being who you are although you may want to tone it down slightly for the period of time that you are working with very analytical person. But as I say, after 40 minutes you are going to revert to your original style. That is the amount of time we can actually change to match someone.
Analyticals are low reactors. Typically they are critical, stuffy, picky, serious and orderly. They demand detail and can be known to be quite unforgiving.
What we don’t want to do and must never do, is show the big picture too early to an analytical because they want that big picture to emerge from the detail. Don’t be flippant with them and certainly never shoot from the hip. You must do your homework before you actually meet with them.
What you must always do is include detail and always have your correct facts, showing how a solution evolved from the detail.
Those are the elements which will enable you to work more effectively with someone whose style is analytical. Then again if your natural style is a driver where those things don’t come naturally to you, you are going to have to adjust for a short period of time, while working with that person. Probably for about 40 minutes after which you are going to revert back to your natural style.
Drivers are typically pushy, severe, tough, dominating, strong willed, independent, practical and have a no-nonsense attitude. They are decisive people, so how do we treat them?
Never have long intros, they want to get to the point. Never focus on the relationship and never be flippant. What we are doing here is giving broadband categories, when in reality, there are hybrids of these different styles and not necessarily as hard and fast as it seems here. The objective is to get a feel for the things that you should and shouldn’t be doing so that you can communicate effectively with them.
What you should always be doing with a driver is getting to the point. Always focus on the bottom line and always show a water tight plan. If you follow those basics with a driver they are typically going to want to work with you.
Amiables are typically conforming, caring, supportive, respectful, willing, agreeable and friendly.
Never push an Amiable. Don’t ignore the human element. These folk are very tuned into the human element and you must always pay attention to that.
Always make them feel comfortable and always focus on the relationship.
Expressives are excitable, undisciplined, high reactors, often egocentric, a little wacky, enthusiastic, dramatic and friendly.
What we never want to do with an expressive is deflate their ego. Don’t focus on the detail and don’t cut them short. Those are key things when dealing with expressives.
Always, however, support their enthusiasm, let them tell you whatever it is they want to tell you and always focus on the big picture.
So if we follow these basic principles we will be able to assess the style of the client or individual with whom we are interacting, and be able to communicate with them in a way that they will want to be communicated with. This in essence forms the basis of our personal communication strategy.
Remember, you can alter your style for short periods of time to suit their style; to make them more comfortable with you. The most important thing to remember is that every style is acceptable. I would bet my bottom dollar that you have friends that are very introvert and other friends that are very exuberant and extrovert. You don’t like them for their style. You like them for their character ethic. It is those things that matter, not their style.
Don’t ever be seduced into believing that your style is wrong or believing that if you are an amiable that you are not going to be successful or that all leaders should be drivers. That is utter nonsense. Understanding your own style and that of the individual with whom you are interfacing, forms the basis of an effective communication strategy going forward. Every style is perfectly acceptable. Every style is equally effective. It is a question of your natural style and having the wherewithal to match another person’s style to make them more comfortable with you, for short periods of time.