By Paola Pascual & Simon Kennell on Apr 27, 2021 8:08:17 AM
We're sure you’ve left at least one meeting or call and thought to yourself - ‘What the heck was that person even talking about?' Have you ever asked something to a colleague and received a condescending response? Or have you ever been assigned a project with very little explanation, and you were expected to figure it out yourself? In most cases, this all comes down to the different communication styles we tend to adopt.
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What Are Communication Styles?
Communication in the workplace is one of the most crucial elements of any job, and it allows you to convey complex ideas and make sure everyone is aware of the same facts and procedures. Clear and effective communication is also a great way to reduce work stress, boost productivity, and build better relationships with your coworkers.
Despite this, Harvard Business Review notes that about two-thirds of managers aren’t comfortable communicating with their employees. The truth is, as Aubrey Blanche, global head of diversity and belonging at Atlassian, wrote: “The differences between communication styles often cause more agony than they really need to.” And this comes down to the fact that we all communicate differently. We all have different styles.
Communication styles are broad ways in which people tend to communicate with others. Just like everyone has a personal style that might be reflected in how you dress, how you present yourself physically, and also how you communicate with others.
What Are The Different Communication Styles?
This is a wide-ranging topic to cover, but some experts have broken down communication into four main styles. There’s not a ‘best one’. Each one of them has strengths and weaknesses which might be better suited to some tasks than others. While everyone communicates differently, most of us fall into a few different buckets when it comes to our preferred communication style. Below are some of the most popular classifications with additional links if you are interested in reading more:
- DiSC: Dominant, Influencer, Steady, and Conscientious (DiSC website)
- Assertive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and passive (Explained on the following sites: Indeed, workplace.com)
- Analytical, Intuitive, Functional, and Personal (Mark Murphy). This classification focuses on the key information each style is looking for in a conversation and how you can best communicate with them
- PRESENT: Preciseness, Reflectiveness, Expressiveness, Supportiveness, Emotionality, Niceness, and Threateningness (research paper)
DiSC Communication Styles
Dominance (The Winner)
- Description: A person primarily in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on accomplishing results and “seeing the big picture.” They are confident, sometimes blunt, outspoken, and demanding.
- How to communicate with them: When communicating with DiSC D-style individuals, give them the bottom line right from the start. Be brief. Stay focused. Avoid generalizations. Refrain from repeating yourself. And stick to solutions rather than problems.
- Example: “Hi Paola, I have a few numbers that I think you should look at regarding next quarter. I’ve already sent you my notes on them. Do you have time today or tomorrow?”
Influence (The Enthusiast)
- Description: A person in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on influencing or persuading others. They tend to be enthusiastic, optimistic, open, trusting, and energetic.
- How to communicate with them: When communicating with i-style individuals, share your experiences, and allow them time to ask questions and talk themselves. Focus on the positives, avoid overloading them with details, and try not to interrupt.
- Example: “Hey Simon, I’ve been looking at some of the forecasts for next quarter. I was thinking we could go over some ideas around planning ahead. It could be good for us to get together and brainstorm a bit”.
Steadiness (The Peacekeeper)
- Description: A person in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, loyalty, and dependability. They tend to have calm, deliberate dispositions and don’t like to be rushed.
- How to communicate with them: When communicating with DiSC S-style individuals, be personal and amiable, expressing your interest in them and what you expect from them. Be polite, avoid confrontation, and take time to provide clarification.
- Example: “Hi Paola, nice work on the onboarding presentation yesterday! I hope it didn’t take too long to pull all that information together. I think it could be good for us to go over some aspects around how Recruiting and Onboarding can streamline together. Would it be possible to meet today or tomorrow to discuss how we can make a smoother transition for candidates?"
Conscientiousness (The Analyst)
- Description: A person in this DiSC quadrant places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, and competency. They enjoy their independence, demand the details, and often fear being wrong.
- How to communicate with them: When communicating with DiSC C-style individuals, focus on facts and details and minimize "pep talk" or emotional language. Be patient, persistent, and diplomatic.
- Example: “Hi Simon, if possible, can we meet this week to discuss the 10% increase in hiring projections for next quarter? I would like to discuss our my department can help support this increase in terms of resources.”
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Talaera Talks - Transcript Episode 12
- Topic: Communication Styles
- Listen: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts
- Duration: 24 min.
- Transcript: Read below
Welcome to Talaera Talks, the business English communication podcast for non-native professionals. My name is Paola and I am co-hosting this show with Simon. In this podcast, we're going to be covering communication advice and tips to help express yourself with confidence in English in professional settings. So we hope you enjoy the show!
All right, welcome back to another episode of Talaera Talks. It is a beautiful day here in Denmark. My name is Simon and I'm speaking with Paola, how are you today?
Hi, Simon. I'm very, very excited to record one more episode with you today.
Yeah, absolutely. And just to remind our viewers, where are you located today?
I am in Valencia, Spain. And it's also a gorgeous day today.
Okay, and how warm are we talking, when you say gorgeous?
Oh, it must be about almost 20, maybe between 15 and 20 degrees. It's Spain, you know.
It must be nice. It must be nice.
What's it like where you are?
Um, so today it's, I think it's around nine or 10 here. So yeah, it's not so warm, but the sun is up. And in Denmark, if the sun is up, then that means that people are outside, where I will be soon right after we finish recording this, but let's get into it. What are we talking about today?
So today, we're talking about communication styles. And I thought of some different examples that will help everyone understand what we mean by communication style. So you know, when you've sometimes or perhaps it's happened to you, Simon, that you've left a meeting or a call and thought to yourself, 'What the heck was that person even talking about?' Like you don't really fully understand what they mean?
Yeah, unfortunately, that happens more than I would like to. Yeah, I get what you're saying.
Right? Or, I don't know, have you ever asked something to a colleague and received a condescending, rude response? You know, where you felt it was not polite? Or it was a bit arrogant?
Yeah, I have. And I'm sure I've been on the other side of that as well. You know, I've meant to just say something, and then it's come off the wrong way. And I mean, this kind of, we've talked about this a little bit before, because of course, culture plays into this as well. But I think it's a fascinating topic, especially when you talk about it in the workplace, right? We're talking about communication styles, and, of course, how we're communicating in the workplace. Which is, yeah, it can be touchy, though, right?
It can, and culture plays a massive role, but personality as well, and the education you've received, and the context. So, you know, as you said, communication in the workplace is such a crucial element of any job. And, and it can help a lot, but it can also be damaging for the relationships with your colleagues. So it's important to get it right.
Right, you know, I do this activity, actually, it's one of the first activities that I always do with new students is, is we kind of go together, and we go through a list of skills that are important for their position. So if say, if they're in marketing, or HR or an engineer, or something like that, and some of the skills will be totally different. And then one of them is always communication skills. And it has to be like 90% of the time, all of my clients put communication skills as the most important skill, right? So yeah, at least I've seen that, that it's something that is good that we're talking about. So so let's kind of get into it. What when we're talking about communication styles, what are we talking about?
So communication styles are the broad ways in which people attend to communicate with others, right, just like everyone has a personal style that might be reflected, you know, how you dress or how you present yourself physically, but also how you communicate with others. So some people tend to be more straightforward, more direct send people are sweeter when they talk. You know, we have different styles that will describe a bit later, but that's what we mean by communication styles.
And, I mean, why, when we talk about this, it's, of course, we know, it's obvious why this is important, too, to kind of think about this, but as a manager, right? I mean, the way that you're communicating with your employees and being aware of that is huge, I would I have to say.
For sure. And actually, we read this article by Harvard Business Review, and they said that two-thirds, you know, almost 70% of all managers said that they are not comfortable communicating with their employees. That's pretty crazy.
And and now that, I mean, being a manager versus being an employee, and being in that position where you are responsible for a team, and you have to communicate with people, and maybe you have to communicate a specific thing that isn't very nice to communicate, it can be difficult than and doing that in the right way. Is is just, there is a there is Yeah, a lot of difficult aspects around that. And, of course, when you're working with a diverse group of people, right, and everybody has different opinions, what what's the right way to communicate? Right?
I don't think there's one right way.
Yeah, I guess we always say, you know, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it, right? That's one of the basic rules that I've learned. But, you know, why is this really important? Why we're bringing this up, you know, we saw this thing as well, throwing another, another number at you, right? studies are saying that we spend 80% of our workday in meetings or on the phone, or responding to emails, so we're communicating, right. And, of course, there's different ways in how we're communicating. But at the end of the day, we're communicating with all of our colleagues. And, you know, a lot of these workplace encounters come down to dealing with and, and the word you brought up a bit earlier decoding, right decoding different communication styles. What does that mean decoding different communication styles?
So it's a bit about understanding, really understanding what the other person wants to say, but also in what way there they mean to say it because perhaps the other person was trying to be super nice to you and helpful. And then you received it as Okay, that was helpful, but it was very rude at the same time. So it's about decoding the message and decoding the intentions trying to really understand where they're coming from. Right?
Right. And I think, yeah, this it all gets very fuzzy, you know, when we talk about this, and I think that's one of the things. And I'm sure some of your students have talked with you about this as well, in terms of how do I know if this is just the way they communicate versus if they're being rude? And that's always something to Yeah, I think to watch out for but so talking about these different styles, I think might help to clarify some things. So so let's get into some of these what are some different styles of communication.
So as we said, communication styles is a very wide-ranging topic. And depending on the books you read, or the articles you read, you will see different classifications so there's not one unique way to classify them. We saw some articles that divided the different communication styles into assertive, aggressive, passive, aggressive, and passive. Some others said, okay, you can be analytical, intuitive, functional, personal. There's a lot of names in here, we'll share some links if you're interested so that you can check out the different classifications that there are out there, but we chose one that seems to be one of the most popular ones, right?
Yeah, the DISC model.
DISC model, right. D-I-S-C?
DISC. That's right. Dominant, Influencer, Steady and Conscientious. So one thing, I think, before we really get into this is, I mean, of course, people like to put different people in boxes and say, Oh, this person is just conscientious. So we put them in this box or this box. And, and that's one of the problems that I have with some of these models. So I think maybe it's important for us to really quick touch on the fact that we're not saying that you're just one or the other, right.
But as we said, some people do tend to communicate in that style for most of the situations, but it is important to first understand the differences between all of them, and then be able to adapt depending on the situation and the context.
Right. And, and for us, as you know, English instructors, we're talking about how English is attached To these different styles and how you may communicate with people that you think you know, this person may be in the dominant sphere so so we'll go through these different these four different dominant influencers that the in conscientious. And we'll give an example for each one, we'll discuss each one. And then at the end, we're going to play a little fun game Paolo, I want to ask which one you think you are and which one you think I am. Okay. So we'll see what we come up with. So let's start with the first one. dominance. And then they have here in brackets, the winner, okay, so this person puts a lot of focus on accomplishing and seeing the big picture. And they can be confident and maybe blunter or outspoken in some situations. So so when we communicate with with this type a little bit more, we want to kind of get down to the bottom line right away, right? So get in, give your point, be brief, stay focused, and you don't want to spend too much like I'm doing right now just kind of repeating or doing generalizations, right? We just want to get in and get your point and then and then get out. Right?
So dominance, the winner. Sounds pretty interesting.
I don't know, have you ever met anyone that you would consider in a dominance bracket?
I can be that sometimes in some contexts.
I think I am probably in this bracket, like, early in the morning, when I've had like three cups of coffee. Definitely dominance, the winner.
So an example right for dominance, the winner, it could be something like - "Hi Simon, I have a few numbers that I think you should look at regarding next quarter. I've already sent you my notes on them. Do you have time today? Or tomorrow?" So as you said, that's pretty brief, straightforward. You know, I gave the bottom line right away.
Yeah, straight to the point. I mean, I'm, I think probably a lot of people might say, Okay, yeah, you know, I think my manager is more dominant. One and, and this, you know, could be a sign of a good way to communicate just indirect to the point and then and then out. I mean, do you if you find yourself more in this bracket, do you appreciate when people are very brief and direct with you?
I personally do. But that shouldn't be mistaken by like, it shouldn't be understood as being rude and too blunt. Yeah, I think it's always important to be polite and add, you know, some niceties and formalities.
Right, right. Right. Okay, so the next one. influencer the enthusiast. Okay, so this person, they place a lot of emphasis, a lot of focus on influencing or persuading others. So they're usually Yeah, enthusiastic, optimistic. They can be very open and trusting. And yeah, they have a lot of energy. So with these, with this type, right, we want to share our experiences with them, allow them some time to ask questions, and maybe they like to talk about themselves a little bit, you know, focus on the positives, and we don't want to push too many details on them. And also trying not to interrupt. You know, this is kind of one of those moments when you read something and you think that someone like write this about you, you know, I kind of feel that I might go into this at some points in the day. But yeah, I don't know.
You're an influencer?
I hate the sound of that. Like, I work on Instagram. And I'm you. I'm an Instagram influencer, which I'm not. But no, I don't know, maybe sometimes. I am just I think by nature, optimistic and energetic. That's awesome. But I also really, I want to know the details, you know, so So, yeah, this might be a blended thing. So can you give us an example of how we would communicate with an influencer?
So it would be something like, "Hey, Simon, I've been looking at some of the forecasts for next quarter. As you see, this is the same topic as before. I was thinking we could go over some ideas around planning ahead. It could be good for us to get together and brainstorm a bit." So it's quite a bit it's open, optimistic, as you said, on aquatic
Yeah, looking to the future and involving that person, right.
Well, if we remember the previous example, With the dominance, it was more like, I have a few numbers I think you should look at, you know, I've already sent to my notes. Do you have time today or tomorrow? So it was much more straightforward.
Right. And this one's kind of, like you said a little bit more open and, and yeah, upbeat. Good. Okay, let's move on to the next to the steadiness, the peacekeeper. Okay, so this person, this is our third. Yeah, our third style here. They work a lot on cooperation. They're very sincere right? There. They're also very loyal and dependable. They're typically pretty calm, and they don't like to be rushed into things. So the tips around communicating with this person are, you know, express your interest in them. And you know, you want to be polite, not so confrontational and maybe a bit more patient and providing some clarification around them around things that you're bringing up with them? Does this sound like something you've you've encountered before this type of communication style?
Can I be, too? This also sounds like me.
So I don't know. We need to write the disc people and ask if you can be dominant and all of them. And peacekeeper. Yeah, so that makes sense. What what parts of this really kind of are attracted to you?
I think what resonates is the part where you mentioned, you know, be polite, and not so much about avoiding confrontation, I think it's important that you express what you think. But I do like the sincerity and being honest and cooperating with the people you're talking to.
Yeah, yeah. I appreciate that as well. What would be an example of how we would how we communicate with someone.
So it could be something like, "Hey, Simon, nice work on the onboarding presentation yesterday. I hope it didn't take too long to pull all that information together. I think it could be good for us to go over some aspects around how recruiting and onboarding can, you know, can streamline together? Would it be possible to meet today or tomorrow to discuss how we can make a smoother transition for candidates?"
Okay, so little HR, specific action right there. And, yeah, so what about that style was, I mean it was open, and it was, yeah, it was very kind of a very patient, I would say.
It was very patient, there was quite a lot of information, some reassurance, we talked about trust, loyalty, cooperation, so you're reinforcing what the other person has done well, with the great presentation or a nice work yesterday.
Right, right. Nice. And then the last one here, okay, this is a tough word. conscientiousness, conscientiousness, that's hard. Yeah. So this version is also called the analyst, a person in this style, they put a lot of emphasis on accuracy, and competency. So they're very kind of analytical. And they're very independent, and it's all about the details. And they don't want to be wrong, right. So I know a few people like this. And when you communicate with people that may be in this style a little bit, you want to really focus on the facts and details, and not so much emotional language, right. So you know, being being patient, but with the facts and details. I feel like this is like a I don't know, like a banker or, or an accountant or something like this, like this, this kind of communication style right here. What do you think?
Could it be also something around engineering? I feel a lot of the students I work with in the, you know, engineering and also IT sector, tend to appreciate details, independence, competency and then remove a bit more the emotional language.
Right. Right. Yeah. And I mean, I think that is something that is very, it's very fair, it's it makes total sense that that they would like just to have that facts, clarity, patience. So what would be our last example here?
So it could be something like, "Hey, Simon, if possible, can we meet this week to discuss the 10% increase in hiring projections for next quarter? I would like to discuss our department or how our department can help support this increasing terms of resources." So you saw the 10% increase, there was quite a detail there's not so much emotional language, as we said before. 'Oh, nice job. Great presentation.' So in this example, you don't see any of that.
Right. So so it's diplomatic. Right. It's patient diplomatic, but with the facts. Nice, nice. Okay. Right, we had the four styles that we reviewed today, what are our main takeaways today?
So I think what's important is that first, you understand that there are different communication styles and that they coexist. The second part is that you're able to spot these different styles. So when you talk with colleagues, or when you talk yourself, you're able to say, Okay, I was being, you know, quite diplomatic or I was being quite dominant. And then the third step is that you are able to use and adapt your communication style to get the most out of a situation. And with this, I think it's there's two bases for communication in a professional context. And I don't know if you would agree, but I think a message should be clear, and polite. And then everything else comes afterward. But you do want to be clear because time is money. And then the more clear you are, then the more efficient you will be. But then it's also important to stay polite at all times.
Right. And of course, sometimes there's an emphasis on which one, should you be more clear or more polite, right? Very true. Yeah, yeah. But at the end of the day, as you said, it's important to understand that, that there are different communication styles. And of course, we're not saying that you're either the analyst or the peacekeeper, or the enthusiast or the winner, right. There's a lot of this kind of blends a little bit together. But it's good, I would say to, to at least have that initial awareness about it. So, okay, we have gone over these styles. I think they're really good when we're looking forward and thinking about how we can become better communicators, which we should all be trying to do. But I think that is it for us today. Paula, is there anything else that we didn't cover?
Well, I would love to hear what you think your style is.
That's right. I thought I could sneak out of here without saying that. Well, I think I'm a mixture of No, yeah. Okay. dominance, influence, steadiness. dominance, definitely in the morning. influence. Maybe, yeah, at night when I'm a little bit loopy and tired. And then steadiness throughout the day. I would say that's kind of, yeah, where I'm at. Yeah, it also did well, not maybe not conscientious. I should look more into the details. That's probably true. What about yourself, Paola, where would you put yourself?
Oh, I think it's something a bit mixed as well. I think it's a bit mixed, depending on what...
Which one would you say is the most you?
I'm not sure. Maybe... Not the analyst, either. Maybe the peacekeeper,
There you go. (Just maybe) Nothing wrong with that. All right. Well, as always, to all of you out there listening. Thank you so much for taking the time and check out our free resources at talaera.com. And, of course, book a consultation with us, if you would like. Other than that. We'll continue with uploading new podcasts. So stay tuned. Give us a like, subscribe and give us a comment. But besides that, Paola, is great to meet and talk with you today.
It was lovely to to record one more episode with you as well.
All right, awesome. And, to all of you out there, as always, keep learning!
And that's all we have for you today. We hope you enjoyed it, and remember to subscribe to Talaera Talks. We'll be back soon with more! And visit our website at https://talaera.com for more valuable content on business English. You can also request a free consultation on the best ways for you and your team to improve your communication skills. So have a great day and keep learning.