All people have a default pattern of communication behavior. When you are not thinking or not actively looking to influence or connect, you just show up the way you are.
However, your default communication style may not get you want you desire. This is especially true when your style is diametrically opposed to another’s. Communication is not a one-way street.
Adam has a natural tendency to appreciate details. He researches, knows his facts, can produce tables and reasons. He is asked to lead a small team to rollout a new sales tracking system. Adam would like to advance his career with this company and sees this as an opportunity to produce great results and shine as a leader.
Cathy, his boss, makes quick decisions. She sees the long term view, intuitively understands the obstacles , and works swiftly for immediate results. She delegates the detailed plans to her team so that she can continue to focus on longer range plans and opportunities.
Adam, armed with all his facts and figures and the detailed research to back up the recommendation he is about to make, schedules a meeting with Cathy.
Can you see where this is heading?? Adam, so proud of the data, takes Cathy through a winding road of factoids. He fails to notice her impatience or growing distractedness. The meeting doesn’t go as he intended as Cathy mandates a different choice.
Conflicts in communication styles can result in tension, discomfort or lost opportunities.
Each guest, client, associate or supervisor is unique and has a preferred method of doing business. Most people sell or manage based upon their own style; their own preference. That’s not leading – it’s managing. It doesn’t get you what you desire, most of the time.
What if Adam had adapted his approach to Cathy? Adjusting your approach to how others prefer to be communicated with, greatly improves the chances of collaboration and results. This is a key skill in Emotional Intelligence.
If you have high emotional intelligence you are able to recognize your own emotional state and the emotional states of others, and engage with people in a way that draws them to you. You can understand your own communication style and the preferences of others. You use this understanding to better relate to others – customizing your style to theirs.
Let’s give Adam and Cathy a do-over:
Cathy has delegated a key opportunity to Adam, knowing that his eye for detail and commitment to the data will create an excellent and well-thought out solution.
Adam, appreciating Cathy’s bottom line approach, creates a one-page executive summary to bring focus to the meeting.
Adam (with backup detail at the ready) presents the Executive Summary to Cathy. Cathy asks for some level of detail. Both are on the same page with discovery and recommendations and collaboration is possible. A decision is made and both move forward with a desired outcome. Cathy got her bottom line and Adam shared the pertinent details.
Your Leadership ability to customize communication will have profound effects, including
- The strengthening of trust and credibility
- Increased cooperation and innovation
- The ability to address and correct communication breakdowns
- A gain of more influence in both your life and work.
At Leaders Inspired, we always begin any training or coaching relationship with a behavioral profile debriefing. When you know what your default style is and you know both the triggers and preferences of the other styles, you can be thoughtful and proactive in your approaches.
The result, more often than not you will get what you desire.