The word communicate is derived from the Latin word, communis, meaning commonness. When we are communicating, we are trying to establish commonness with others. We are trying to share information, encourage or inspire others, build rapport or persuade someone to make a change or see our point of view. In order to accomplish this, you will want to consider if the receiver has a preferred communication style so you can tap into it.
Some people are detailed thinkers and like to communicate lots of details. While they may think they are being effective with the receiver, the receiver might be thinking, “Information overload. Please stop.” Actually, that would be my reaction. I am a big-picture thinker. I think of the details but that comes after the big picture. And I prefer people to communicate with me in a big-picture fashion. If I want more details, I will ask for them. Of course, it helps me a lot that my assistant, Melia, is a detailed thinker.
I have been teaching administrative assistants about communication styles for more than two decades. I teach this in our Star Achievement Series® course and in our World Class Assistant™ course. Both of these are certification courses. In class, attendees get to complete an assessment to see if they have a preferred communication style. And if so, how to communicate with that person to be most effective.
If you would like to see if you have a preferred style, click here to get the assessment.
Here is a small sampling of the characteristics of each color. You will notice some distinct differences. Please keep in mind this has to do with communication, not personality.
Concrete, impulsive, risk taker. Wants to know the short-term objectives of a project. Doesn’t like indecision and vagueness in others. Take charge type, self-assured. Quick to act; spontaneous; likes to be in control; doesn’t like advice; uninterested in personal feeling.
Empathetic, personal, intuitive. Emphasis on human relationships and feeling when communicating. Enjoys friendly, informal relationships with everyone. Doesn’t like rigid, bureaucratic, unfeeling management. Full of ideas; dislikes telling people unpleasant things; seeks harmony.
Introspective, creative, conceptual. They easily make associations. Enjoys expressing ideas. Asks questions for understanding. Responds poorly to authoritative management. Can take small pieces of information and form a whole. Good listener; need to be unique; often unrealistic.
Precise, analytical, impersonal. Likes consistency and logic. Prefers clear procedures, rules, and regulations. Wants guidelines and structure. Needs to know deadlines. Principled, cautious, prefers working alone; likes problem-solving; unemotional.
Learning about and understanding, if someone has a preferred style, is very powerful. Here are ways to use your new understanding of communication style.
- Complement your executive’s preferred style. For example, if your executive prefers the red communication style which is big picture, then hopefully you can “balance” their style with being more of a detailed thinker. This means that you would ask more questions to get more information from your executive. Or you would think of things that your executive has not thought about.
- Build rapport with internal and external customers. If we truly want to build rapport with others, we will consider if they have a preferred communication style. If they do have a preference, then you will want to communicate in their style so they are open to your ideas and want to work with you.
- Tailor messages so they’re best received, and most easily understood, by different communication styles. Whether communicating verbally or in writing, you would tailor your message to a person’s preferred communication style. Here are some examples of how you would tailor your messages based on the communication colors.
Red: big picture; short and to the point; be business-like.
Yellow: emphasize feelings; be friendly; don’t hurry the discussion.
Blue: informal; casual; provide small bits of information.
Green: structured; don’t rush them; be organized and precise.
- Break through social barriers to outstanding job performance by promoting mutual understanding and even greater respect for different communication styles and unique cultures.
- Enhance your persuasive techniques so you can influence decisions and make a more positive impact on the workplace.
Best of luck!