If you are like me you tend to gravitate toward, and have the most success dealing with, people who are like you.
They have common interests, generally view the world through the same lens, and communicate in a way that makes you wonder if you’ve known even a brand-new acquaintance from a “previous life” from time-to-time.
Be careful that this gravitation isn’t costing your business money.
It turns out that people can generally be divided into four basic communication types: Drivers, Expressives, Amiables and Analyticals. Each of us falls into one of these profiles—and we love dealing with others who communicate as we do.
But what about the others that you need to court, sell, or work alongside? How effective are you in flexing your social style to be effective with them?
As a young business owner, I quickly learned that if 75 percent of the world generally communicates differently than I do, I better learn to flex my style and reach those folks just as effectively as I do the people who share my style. I didn’t want only 25 percent of my prospects to like me; I wanted as close to 100 percent as possible.
Step one is understanding YOU. By knowing how you typically send and receive information most effectively (encoding and decoding for you Communications majors), you can learn how others likely perceive you during hundreds of daily interactions.
The way you manage a Driver is much different than the way you manage an Amiable. The way you sell to an Analytical is the opposite of how you would sell to an Expressive. Below are some tips on how to identify your communication style and that of others.
These people get to the point and don’t like to waste their time. They want succinct communication that is light on emotion and heavy on RESULTS. Give Drivers room to feel the power because control is critical to their well being.
Think Donald Trump. Drivers are on time, expect you to deliver what you promise and won’t have a problem holding you accountable.
The phrase, “it’s all about me” pertains to Expressives. These people are the life of the party and like being the center of attention. They wear bright clothing, laugh (or cry) loudly, and make sure everyone else knows how they feel about the topic at hand.
Think Oprah. Expressives are questionable listeners because they are focused on what THEY are going to say next. Let them emote and listen to their stories to build rapport.
An Amiable is most concerned about other people’s feelings and views. They will often sugarcoat the truth to avoid conflict, and have difficulty holding others accountable. Emotions tend to build up before an explosion occurs, either good or bad.
Amiables will need time to make decisions, because they will be checking in with others to see how they feel or how they will be affected. Help them facilitate their process by reassuring them and showing them how their decision will make others happy.
Data is what drives Analyticals. In order to effectively influence one, provide supporting evidence for everything you are trying to communicate. It’s not about emotion with these folks, it’s about what the numbers say.
They will need time to analyze the information you provide, so don’t pressure them because it will appear that you are trying to circumvent the process and they won’t trust you. Set deadlines that they agree are reasonable and come with your data.
The way people dress, the speed of their speech, how they shake hands, and how they write emails are all clues to their natural communication style. Take a moment to acknowledge that 75 percent of the time it’s going to be different than your natural style, because research shows that there are roughly an equal number of each of the four styles—and it’s not gender specific.
Your effectiveness as a leader will improve greatly once you can flex your style according to your audience. The target of your communication will be thinking, “I like this guy/gal. I’m comfortable working with them because they really understand me”.
Ineffective communication is the root of many business problems. As a student of communication styles, you will have a far greater opportunity to connect with those you are trying to influence, manage, coach, or simply begin a new relationship. Commonality is an attractive trait that will help you achieve this synergy with others—and add to your bottom line!
Jim Evanger is currently president & CEO of a nationwide healthcare provider based in Jacksonville, FL that treats more than 30,000 patients annually. His career experience runs the gamut from Fortune 100 leadership to birthing entrepreneurial start-ups. He has started companies from scratch within the healthcare, retail and service industries. As part of his mission, Jim coaches entrepreneurs and business leaders as a mentor, on everything from strategic planning to operational execution.