Have you ever delivered a powerful argument, hoping to convince someone of your point of view, only to have it seemingly fall on deaf ears? Are your attempts to ask your team member about their personal life met with a grimace? We understand.
Lucidchart partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit to conduct a primary research study about breakdowns in workplace communication (download your copy!). In the study, 42% of survey respondents cited different communication styles as a leading cause of miscommunication at work.
But, in that same study, 54% of respondents said that they enjoy communicating with people who use different types of communication styles in the workplace. It’s not that you only want to talk with like-minded people. You just need to figure out exactly how your colleagues want to receive information so you can talk more clearly with them—and now you can with our communication styles quiz.
To find better ways to communicate with your colleagues, follow the flowchart to discover your colleague’s preferred communication style. Then keep reading for tips on how you can better accommodate each of the four communication styles, based on research from Mark Murphy, founder of Leadership IQ.
Using your answer from this communication styles assessment, find the full description for the appropriate style below and learn how to improve communication with your team.
(Bonus tip: You should also evaluate your own communication style—it’ll help you see your strengths and shortcomings when you collaborate with other people and make you a better manager or team member.)
Analytical communicators prefer to have data and facts to support what they say and tend to use precise and specific language.
When you work with analytical communicators:
- Show them the numbers. Some people might want a general idea of the company’s progress, but with this group, don’t be afraid to use more specific language and data to show them value. If you say “revenue has gone up,” they’ll want to know by how much.
- Argue logic over emotions. Analytical communicators often look at situations logically and dispassionately, so you’re going to have a hard time arguing that you based a major business decision on a gut feeling. Again, present this group with the data to earn their trust—and also look to them as a source of informational expertise.
- Limit chatty conversation. Because analytical communicators like less emotional conversation, they’re typically more interested in logical discussions and hard numbers than in small talk or what Murphy calls “warm and fuzzy stuff.”
Intuitive communicators prefer to understand the big picture and quickly get to the point. They avoid getting bogged down in too much detail.
When you work with intuitive communicators:
- Keep instructions quick and to the point. Intuitive communicators prefer a broad overview to a step-by-step walkthrough of a process, so you should limit details to what directly pertains to this person. They will care about the big picture, or the “why,” most of all.
- Take their ideas seriously. These team members are more comfortable with big ideas and, thus, unconventional thinking. While you may have to reign these people in occasionally, you should also give them the opportunity to present their unique take on business processes or problems, whether in group meetings or 1:1s.
- Use visuals to show greater detail. Although intuitive communicators may want you to jump to the end point, they may need more detail later to execute. Visuals, such as process flowcharts, can give your team members a quick overview of the process and then the ability to drill down when it’s pertinent to their work.
Functional communicators focus on process and carefully think through plans step by step so nothing gets missed.
When you work with functional communicators:
- Lay out the entire process. Functional communicators love well-thought-out plans and want to implement the process exactly as intended. If you don’t have time to review the entire process with them, you can create process maps with swimlanes to show their specific responsibilities, timelines, and other documentation to give them the information they need.
- Be prepared to answer more questions. These communicators will beg for more detail—and they will have greater faith in your leadership if you have the answers. Beyond the main process, you should consider due dates, contingency plans, etc.
- Invite feedback. If you aren’t a functional communicator but some of your colleagues are, ask these detail-oriented members of the group to find any gaps or less efficient parts of your process. With additional perspective, you could stop issues before they even happen.
Personal communicators place emphasis on relationships and establishing personal connections to understand what others are thinking.
When you work with personal communicators:
- Explain directions in person as much as you can. Personal communicators want to assess how people feel as well as what people think—which is a lot easier to do in a conversation than in an email. These individuals often pick up “vibes” others don’t because they’re tuned into the emotional side of communication.
- Make your feelings known. These individuals value personal relationships, so they’ll want to know exactly where your relationship stands. Take the time to compliment them in person and express any pain points you think they could help with. Ask these communicators about their personal life or well-being before you jump into assignments or directions.
- Use their positivity to influence the group. According to Murphy’s research, personal communicators succeed at listening and smoothing over conflicts. If you announce assignments or big changes in a group setting, you can often rely on these individuals to diffuse tension and bring the group together.
Remember that you don’t have to follow these guidelines to the letter. Our research shows that you can find all four communication styles within every functional area—so it’s not about accommodating only one style all the time but finding a balance that helps an entire team of different communication styles work together. (And we all need to stretch outside of our comfort zones now and then.)
If you are curious about gender differences in communication styles and the most popular styles for different functional roles around the office, we have a lot more data where this came from (analytical communicators rejoice!).
Download our full study on communication breakdowns in the workplace.