Understanding diverse communication styles

Communication is a cornerstone of our everyday life for Assistants. Understanding different communication styles is crucial to fostering an inclusive, collaborative, and productive work environment.

This article will explore three primary types of communicators one might encounter in an office setting: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic communicators.

Visual Communicators: Visual communicators prefer to use sight and imagery to interpret information. When they’re speaking, they’ll often use phrases like “I see what you’re saying” or “Let’s look at it this way.” When dealing with visual communicators, remember that they tend to absorb and retain information best when presented visually. Graphs, diagrams, charts, and other visual aids are incredibly helpful for these individuals. Emails and written texts can also be effective forms of communication. They appreciate a well-structured presentation or a neatly organised report.

Auditory Communicators: People who are auditory communicators prefer to listen to information rather than read it or see it displayed visually. You’ll often hear them say things like “I hear you” or “That sounds good.” They are usually good listeners and can remember things that they hear quite well. Conversations, discussions, and verbal explanations work best for auditory communicators. They might prefer a phone call or a face-to-face meeting over a lengthy email. They are also likely to enjoy and benefit from podcasts or audiobooks.

Kinesthetic Communicators: Kinesthetic communicators, also known as tactile learners, prefer a more physical style of learning. These individuals often use their body and touch to learn about the world around them. They tend to use phrases like “I have a grasp on this” or “Let’s walk through it together.” They might prefer to stand or move around while discussing an idea or problem-solving. Providing them with hands-on experiences, the chance to touch and feel a physical product, or even engaging them in role-play scenarios can be particularly effective.

Understanding these communication styles can significantly enhance interpersonal communication as an Assistant. By tailoring your approach to meet the needs of the person you are communicating with, you can enhance the clarity of your message and promote a better understanding.

Moreover, this awareness can lead to improved rapport and relationships. An illustrative example involves a new employee struggling to communicate with her boss. After determining her boss was a visual communicator, she adjusted her approach to include visual cues and concise written communication. The result was a marked improvement in their rapport and overall communication effectiveness.

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To further our understanding of communication styles, we can delve into the four categories defined by Dale Carnegie: expressor, driver, amiable, and analytical. Each category describes a unique set of characteristics:

  • Expressors are socially influential, have a positive expectancy, and are expressive. They are typically outgoing and enthusiastic and work well in group settings. They thrive when given clear goals and frequent updates on project statuses.
  • Drivers are controlling, ambitious, and results-oriented. They appreciate being involved in decision-making processes and thrive on being challenged. They also prefer dealing with facts and appreciate recognition for their achievements.
  • Amiable individuals are patient, composed, and team-oriented. They enjoy friendly chit-chat and prefer a gradual introduction to change. They often need encouragement to speak up in meetings but are generally reliable and cooperative.
  • Analytical people are precise, analytical, and quality-oriented. They prefer to get straight to business and appreciate detailed, factual information. Encouraging them to voice their opinions and reassuring them that it’s okay to make mistakes are effective strategies when dealing with analytical individuals.

Recognising these different communication styles in the workplace can lead to more effective and efficient communication, better teamwork, improved understanding, and a more harmonious working environment. After all, understanding how we and others communicate helps us meet individuals where they are, contributing to more productive and positive interactions.