What’s your communication style?
What is your social style and how does it affect your communication style? A social style is the behavioural patterns we display when we interact with other people and explains why each of us act the way we do. It is primarily based on decision-making and our need for control.
There are four different social styles:
- Driver (decisive and controller)
- Analytical (indecisive and controller)
- Expressive (decisive and emotive)
- Amiable (indecisive and emotive)
Each has their strengths and flaws but all are just as important in the way we socialise and do business.
It helps to understand your social style to be able to communicate effectively with each other. 75% of the world’s population has a different social style to you (M. Leimbach, Wilson Learning)[i] so it is vital to get to know how to approach others in order to get your message across without any misunderstandings.
I am an Analytical person, which means I like things to be black and white and do not like to make big sweeping decisions, or at least not without detailed analysis of all my options. This drives my partner crazy because all of a sudden, “where we are going to dinner”? becomes a big deal.
He is a Driver, which means he likes to be in control and make quick decisions. It suddenly dawned on me why this works well for us because where I lack decisiveness, he makes up for. Needless to say, most decisions are left to him, which is fine by me.
Given I am Analytical I find the most difficult people for me to “click” with are Expressive types as they often are emotional and are those peppy people that seem to bounce around all day long like an Eveready battery. They try to motivate people naturally and love to exchange ideas. These people can also be confronting to those who are of the Amiable social style.
Amiables are generally quiet and supportive of most ideas that are brought up. They are unlikely to voice opinions without being asked but are happy to adapt to change. In turn, Amiables find it difficult to get on with Drivers especially when it comes to joint contributions.
You can generally decipher which of the social styles someone is by the way they give directions and what words they choose to use.
Amiables and Analyticals tend to ask people to do things rather that give orders however the key difference is that an Amiable will focus more on the emotional side of things rather than the Analytical who base their decision on rationality and reason.
Expressives and Drivers are more likely to tell someone what needs to be done but there is a key difference. Expressives, like Amiables, will tell others what need to be done with emotion whether that is positive or negative. A driver will leave emotion out of it and will state all the logical reasons why it is to be done, similar to Analyticals.
We can’t all be stuck in our ways and communicate purely based on our own social styles because inevitably misunderstandings occur and leave others feeling as if they are not being taken into account, especially when making decisions.
When I am speaking with others I try to understand how they communicate and how they react and then tailor my approach to them.
Nobody is perfect – not by a long shot – however I have found that when I get my communication just right, both my work and personal life become much easier. Life is about give and take and dealing with personalities is all part and parcel of everyday life.