Being able to communicate clearly is a skill essential to any leader. That’s no surprise. Clear hand-off communication is imperative when transferring a strategic initiative to a new project team. It’s a must for business owners and CEOs when articulating strategies for company-wide enhancements. In addition, a 2016 study by Korn Ferry found organizations that were able to achieve a high level of engagement with their employees realized 4.5 times greater revenue growth than those with the lowest-engaged employees. A key factor in engagement is clear communication from leadership. Engaged employees are connected to the company. They understand their roles. They understand what is expected of them. And, they feel as if they’re understood and valued as an individual. So besides simply telling your employees what they need to do and how they fit in, what are you doing to ensure you are communicating with them in ways that resonate with them individually?
To get a sense of how well you’re communicating with others, let’s see how you respond to the following:
When you try to communicate with others,
- Do they interrupt, ‘shut down’ or stop listening?
- Do they misinterpret what you say?
- Do you find yourself wondering why they behave the way they do and say the things they say?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to just one of those questions, you are not alone. And you are not alone in needing to take a step back and realize: If others are frequently shutting down when you try to engage with them, misinterpreting what you say, or responding in ways you didn’t expect, you are not reading them, communicating with them, or interacting with them correctly. You are communicating at them. You are not strategically communicating with them. Most basically, you are not seeing them as individuals with individual communication style needs and preferences. You’re communicating to them in ways that are most comfortable and logical for you, not them. You are not ‘reading’ them correctly, and therefore, your ability to communicate effectively across a spectrum of personality types, is limited.
You are not ‘reading’ others correctly, and therefore, your ability to communicate effectively across a spectrum of personality types, is limited.
When communication fails to effectively convey to others, we’re often focusing more on what we want to transmit, and not on how it needs to be conveyed so others will best receive it. We default to communicate in the style and manner that resonates with us. However, the differences in personalities and communication style preferences have been studied for centuries. The current, dominant personality and communication style assessments – such as DiSC®, Myers & Briggs, and Dr. Tony Alessandra’s The Platinum Rule®, – all build upon four, core personality and communication styles and attributes. The underlying insight presented by every assessment is summed up in Dr. Alessandra’s Platinum Rule® credo: Do unto others as they want done unto them. This simple mantra of communicating with others in ways that resonate with them, not you, is easy to say but not easy to do. When it comes to effective communication, forget the Golden Rule. To communicate clearly and effectively, you need to focus on them.
When it comes to effective communication, forget the Golden Rule.
Though we each have aspects of all four personality and communication style preferences within us, we each have one style that is dominant. When pressured slightly, we also tend to default to our dominant style as our ‘Go To’ mode of communication. However, when we try to communicate with someone with a different dominant style, if their dominant style isn’t the same as ours, they may quickly shut down, misinterpret, or react in ways we don’t expect or want. To prevent them from shutting down, and disengaging quickly, we need to ‘read’ them, identify their dominant personality and communication styles, and then adjust our mode of communicating to one that better resonates with them.
So let’s review the four dominant styles to identify how to better read others and communicate more effectively with them:
are helpful team members, calm, and methodical. They don't like tension, fighting, or rushing. They listen more than they speak, and they will slow down and withdraw when they feel pressured. To communicate effectively with them, physically slow down, speak slower, be friendly, and give them time to think and ask questions. This personality type thrives on helping others, so communicate with them in ways that allow them to feel as if they are a contributor, supportive, and an essential team member.
are energetic, creative and full of ideas. They don't like routine or detailed work. They tend to speak more than they listen and are easily distracted. They will talk more when they feel pressure. To communicate with these individuals, show a bit of energy and “personality”, smile, make strong eye contact, and give them time to share ideas. This personality type needs to be with people and thrives on the energy of and interactions with others, so let them express themselves, and then refocus their energies.
are methodical, logical, and linear thinkers. They enjoy data and intellectual challenges. They think before they speak or act. They will become quiet and withdraw to focus and identify how to resolve problems or conflicts. When communicating with these individuals, give them time to think and process information before pushing them to make decisions or even comment on what you’ve shared. This personality type thrives on accuracy so give them time for processing, but clarify they need to be concise in summarizing their analysis or recommendations.
are quick and decisive in how they speak, move, think and act. They tend to speak before they think things through completely. They value getting things done, marking off goals and checklists, and being quick and efficient. They become more direct, quick, and decisive when they feel pressure. To communicate with them, get to the point. This personality type thrives on getting things done, so frame conversations to help them make decisions, move things forward, and accomplish tasks and goals.
Keep in mind: Clear Communication is about them – not you. Everyone has a dominant and preferred personality and communication style. Keep your dominant style in mind and in check. Hone your communication skills by focusing on reading and mirroring others’ communication style preferences and needs better. The more you focus on them, the better your interactions will become, and the more powerful your strategic communications will be.
Remember: To communicate strategically, focus on them, not you.
Copyright MMXVIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz and her team work with leaders to create focused plans for their organizations' future. Then they work with the leaders to ensure their plans are implemented effectively.