Have you ever tried talking to someone at work — only to be met with a condescending response? Have you ever been assigned a project with little explanation, only to have a manager tell you to figure it out yourself? These off-putting behaviors can easily be attributed to differences in communication styles that could be holding you back.
Communication can be broken down into styles — and just like everyone has a different personal style that might be reflected in how they present themselves physically, they also have a different style of communication that surfaces in their interpersonal relationships. This is not just limited to verbal communication; it also translates into visual communication like body language and written communication.
All types of communication can have their pros and cons. There are aspects of everyone’s communications styles that make for effective communication, but that same communication style might alienate some individuals and create disconnects. Understanding how these communications styles play out is vital for business communication that excels.
There are four common communication styles: the controller communicators, the promoter communicators, the analyzer communicators, and the supporter communicators. These four different styles play out very differently in their engagements with others in and out of the workplace. For instance, the controller type of communication is somewhat the opposite of the promoter style of communication.
But how do these varying styles play out in the workplace? What are the differences, and how do they aid or inhibit effective communication? Do they cause conflict or increase productivity? Here’s a breakdown of these four communications styles and what they look like in workplace situations.
The controller communication style is very direct — demanding facts in a very straightforward and blunt fashion. People who communicate this way tend to have the following character traits.
In the workplace, these people tend to be leaders with communication skills but a tendency to come off as bossy. They are blunt, straightforward and to the point. They don’t mince words and expect the same conciseness in return. They want to know the important factors but don’t have time for the small details. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary information, as they won’t over-explain when giving a project to you. When communicating with a controller, expect to figure a lot of things out as you go, as they probably won’t spend too much time filling you in.
The promoter communication style is enthusiastic and people-driven. The promoter is the person with the following characteristics.
That all said, their socialness can be a downfall as they easily get sidetracked. You could go to them with a quick question and lose an hour of time because they’ve jumped around to an array of different topics. They aren’t so much detail-oriented as they are people- and experience-oriented. When engaging with a promoter, ask them personal questions and expect to be asked them in return. Use plenty of tangible examples and get ready to steer them back in the direction you are looking for them to answer.
Organized and astute, the analyzer loves facts and intricate details. These types have the following characteristics.
When engaging with an analyzer, make sure you have all the facts and have outlined a project in detail before bringing it to their attention. Also get ready for questions — because they will have them. This might be discouraging. It might make you feel a little silly or dumb because of their hesitancy to fully believe you, your idea, or vision — but this is just because they are trying to understand it as thoroughly as possible. Analyzers require patience, but the payoff is worth it. Similarly, expect an in-depth presentation when given a project by an analyzer.
Calm, cool, and collected is a relatively accurate way to describe the supporter. This personality type has the following characteristics.
When interacting with a supporter in the workplace, expect someone who is easy-going and easy to approach. They are very open and welcoming, but it’s good not to be too extreme in your approach. They require a kind of communication that falls in between high-context communication and low-context communication. Start slow when getting to know them and expect trust to be earned step-by-step. Supporters are very reliable and efficient so don’t over-explain or undermine their intelligence. Talk to them like you’d talk to a new friend — being hesitant with personal stories but open to casual conversation.
Everyone communicates differently — and understanding how a person communicates is vital to understanding how they work and operate. It’s also vital to building workplace relationships and successful business endeavors. And it’s up to you to figure out how other people’s styles mesh or clash with your own.
Communication can be verbal and non-verbal. It’s important to notice a colleague’s body language, whether they make eye contact if they engage in indirect or direct communication, and other idiosyncratic communication skills you can pick up on. This will ensure you know how to interact going forward and don't get into a situation where your personality and your communication style clashes with theirs. Communicating in the workplace is something that needs to be learned as you go, but uncovering these differences and working toward a middle-ground of communication with other individuals is vital not only for success in the workplace but also for success on a personal level.