A Consideration of Communication Styles

Posted by on Nov 9, 2011 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

Today I had a phone conversation with a tech guy about my the e-mail system at work. While talking, I was so happy with the information that I was hearing that I kept getting more enthused. This was met with monotone, direct responses from my counterpart on the phone. It could’ve been that I was annoying, but more likely is that we just had different communication styles.

Communication styles reflect the personality of an individual. It involves a certain amount of self-awareness to realize how you communicate.  When you engage in communication, people hear three types of messages:  factual, symbolic, and emotional.

Factual communication focuses on data: statistics, measures and concrete ideas. This is different than emotional and symbolic communication styles. These styles place emphasis on meaning that is much less concrete, but equally important. Symbols are representations of an idea or process. Symbolic representations are often partnered with emotional appeals. If you want people to listen, then an appeal needs to be made to each style in order to reach the entire audience. Focusing on only one areas will ensure only limited succes.

This was clear to me when I stopped being overtly cheerful and replicated the direct communication style of the IT guy. He began to be  more friendly and willing to make suggestions or provide details. By paying attention to his detail orientation, and dislike of emotional chatter, the conversation went better.

With that said, it seems clear that understanding how you interact with people can promote more effective communication. It can also save you  hurt feelings when your excitement is not reciprocated.

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