3 Ways to Work With a Colleague Who Has a Different Communication Style Than You

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Kristy Busija289
Executive Coach & Talent Management Cosultant
June 12, 2024 at 3:51PM UTC

Who do you have a hard time communicating with at work?  Who can’t you get on the same page with?  Almost everyone can think of at least one person fairly quickly.  Far too often, we form opinions about the other person and label someone as “difficult” or “hard to work with,” instead of seeing what is really happening: miscommunication and different perspectives. The more important question to ask in these situations is “why?”  Why is there a struggle to connect with one another and why do we do things differently? Here are three tips to help you figure out that “why” and connect better with your colleagues.

1. Listen for perspective.

Most communication challenges stem from a lack of perspective of your own style and the style of the other person. Before you can make any adjustments to connect better, take a step back and carefully listen to the other person. Listen to what they are saying, how they are saying it and what they are focusing on. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What types of words do they use?
  • What type of information do they focus on?
  • Do they talk about the work or the impact on people?
  • What are their concerns or challenges?
  • How much detail do they provide/ask for?

2. Evaluate your own perspective.

Once you have a good understanding of where the other person is starting from, ask the same questions of yourself.  If this is a little challenging or you aren’t quite sure how you would respond, ask someone who knows you best to help you with this part.

An outside-in perspective of your communication style may highlight things that you weren’t even aware of.  You can also take a free personality test, like the DiSC, to give you a framework and quick read. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What type of information do I need?
  • Do I focus on the work/task or the impact on people?
  • What are my concerns/challenges?
  • How much detail do I need?

Knowing your own communication preferences, as well as the other person’s perspective, gives you insight into where there could be disconnects in conversation. Then, you can better tailor your messaging to meet somewhere in the middle.

3. Ensure communications are balanced.

Sometimes, you won’t know how to best communicate with someone, or you’ll have trouble understanding the other person’s perspective. When this happens, balance your communications, which means covering all perspectives.  This is actually a best practice for any communication, as it gives a more holistic picture of the message. Ask yourself:

  • What must we achieve? What does success look like?
  • What could we do? Let’s discuss the possibilities…
  • How will we achieve the outcomes? Who will do what & when?
  • What are the potential impacts? What solutions will work? What challenges might we face?

We all bring unique perspectives to the conversation, which, at times can lead to misalignment or confusion. Start with listening to the other person’s point of view and see if you can articulate your own perspective.  When none of that is clear or even as a best communication best practice, use the balanced communications framework.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Kristy is an executive coach and talent management consultant, who is known for helping individuals, teams and organizations unleash their potential, one conversation at a time. What is your Next conversation? Check out Next Conversation Coaching to see how she can help you today.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for dealing with a colleague who has a different communication style? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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