Communication Style


Verify that another party is interested in receiving your advice before you offer it.  A web designer thought he was being helpful by writing an unsolicited e-mail to his consultant-friend about ways the consultant could enhance his website.  The consultant thought the web designer was being presumptuous; the web designer thought his friend was ungrateful because he did not express appreciation for the advice.  As an alternative, the web designer could have casually mentioned, “If you’d ever like me to share some ideas that have worked, I’d be happy to do so…”

So what?

Most people need to be psychologically prepared to receive advice.  When prepared, they’re more likely to find the advice helpful and the relationship affirming.  Unsolicited advice can undermine a relationship because it implies that “my ideas or approach” are better than yours.


Modify your communication according to the degree to which your audience wants to receive direction and leadership.  Someone who needs direction and structure might appear hesitant, be indecisive, or ask for reinforcement, clarification or simply, “What do you want me to do?”  In this instance, provide the person with more details, lists and step-by-step directions.

So what?

Adapting your communication strategy to your audience’s needs and tendencies–instead of assuming that we all have the same needs–will enhance the likelihood that your communication will be effective.


Modify your communication style according to the degree to which your coworker or colleague wants to be included and feel part of a group.  Those who have a high degree of wanting inclusion may exhibit this by joining groups, wearing trendy clothes, or saying things such as “What’s everybody doing?”  In this instance, use inclusionary language such as “we”, “team”, “join us”, “we’re all in this together”, and ask questions such as “How can we work together?”

So what?

Modifying your communication according to your audience’s personality tendencies and needs will increase the likelihood of motivating them and preventing conflicts.


To further engage employees or coworkers, share a few stories about how your customers, clients or other stakeholders were affected by your product or service. For example, instead of sharing statistics or facts, recount an actual event or share a picture of a success story.

So what?

Research shows that people pay more attention to a story than they do to a statistic. Sharing stories make your points “come alive”; they are more likely to be motivating, memorable and attention-grabbing.


Modify your communication according to how your audience makes decisions and forms opinions. On one end of the continuum are people who make decisions based on logic and facts, weighing the evidence to arrive at an objective decision. When communicating with this type, be brief and concise, calm and reasonable, and present the pros and cons. On the other end of the continuum are those who make a decision based on how it may impact relationships and others’ feelings, seeking ways that avoid conflict. When communicating with this type, show how the idea affects people and is valuable to them, and be aware of how you communicate in terms of your nonverbals and body language.

So what?

Adapting your communication strategy to different personality types will more effectively “link” to the needs and tendencies of your audience, thereby increasing the likelihood that the communication will be effective.


Use the buddy system when preparing communications. Effective communicators will often have someone who reads over and checks written and oral communication before it’s distributed. This may reveal some conceptual errors (such as misinterpretations or missing pieces) and technical errors (such as spelling or grammar). A friendly critic provides constructive and actionable feedback.

So what?

As C.S. Lewis once said, “Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.” As each person performs duties for the other, the communication skills of each will be enhanced.


Modify your communication style according to your audience’s level of introversion or extroversion. For example, introverts may appear contemplative or prefer to think before responding. Therefore, allow thinking time and ideally, an opportunity for them to write down ideas before you request information. On the other hand, extroverts may be uncomfortable with silence and seem to get more energy as they talk and interact with others. As a result, use an agenda to keep a discussion on track and consider incorporating group activities in a meeting.

So what?

Adapting your communication strategy to different personality types will more effectively “link” to the needs and tendencies of your audience, thereby increasing the likelihood that the communication will be effective.


Modify your communication style according to your audience’s information-gathering tendencies. For example, some people are more focused on the “here and now” and come to understand things by tangibly seeing, touching and feeling. They ask for specifics and like order. Therefore, in communicating with them, be orderly and direct (i.e., show steps in a process), and provide details–facts, figures and evidence. On the other end of the continuum are people who are more intuitive-they look for the big picture and relationships, work in bursts, and are more future-oriented. Therefore, discuss the main idea first, avoid details unless asked and emphasize the possibilities.

So what?

Adapting your communication strategy to different personality types will more effectively “link” to the needs and tendencies of your audience, thereby increasing the likelihood that the communication will be effective.


Modify your communication according to the degree of structure and organization your audience prefers. On one end of the continuum are people who are very organized and like things settled which is revealed by the lists they maintain and their very organized desk, car, or calendar. In communicating with this type, show a timetable, allow them time for preparation and, above all, do not put them on the spot. On the other end of the continuum are those who are creative, don’t like routine or structure and can be easily distracted. In communicating with more intuitive people, present new ideas, allow for discussions to flow and provide options.

So what?

Adapting your communication strategy to different personality types will more effectively “link” to the needs and tendencies of your audience, thereby increasing the likelihood that the communication will be effective.