Communicating and listening to what others are not just saying but how they are saying it, will give you the advantage as you work to achieve success in your business. Understanding, very quickly, the other person’s preferences will allow you to communicate your message more effectively and win over those you want to influence.
It is listening to their choice of words that you have the clues you need to best respond to and motivate them. The following guidelines will give you an advantage and position you as the expert in connecting so others will hear you. You will be able to address each type of person’s concerns and needs in every encounter.
This is called ‘communication flexibility’, and it will make you the go-to person when others want someone who understands them. This flexibility also allows you to be the bridge between others and connect them to not only one another but to you.
Why do you want this super-power? Because when you are able to communicate on the level of the person in front of you, then you are able to collaborate, persuade, influence, and inspire anyone.
There are basically four types of people in the world. Most personality tests break it down into four as well. There is DiSC (which we have talked about before); Myers-Briggs; Eysenck Personality Inventory; Animal Personality; etc. I like looking through the lens of the Bible and say: Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.
Here is the break down for the basic characteristics for each of the four areas. Who do you know fits into one (or more) of these categories?
- Those who are pragmatic, direct, impatient, decisive, quick, and energetic.
- Those who are systematic, logical, factual, unemotional, cautious, and patient.
- Those who are spontaneous, empathetic, warm, subjective, emotional, perceptive, and sensitive.
- Those who are imaginative, charismatic, difficult to understand, ego-centric, unrealistic, creative, full of ideas, and provocative.
Our natural tendency when we communicate (and listen) is to use our own style because it’s what comes naturally and automatically to us. But if we want to be more effective communicators, we need to adapt our style to that of the person to whom we are trying to connect. That’s why being aware of and using personality profiling is so important.
Now, I am not implying that you need to hand everyone you meet an assessment before you talk with them. I am suggesting you use the skills (and tools) to evaluate someone very quickly and be able to adjust your communication style to theirs. Remember, it is you as the person wanting to be understood that has the responsibility to communicate in the other person’s style.
Let’s use the Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength terminology to evaluate the four basic categories. What should you be listening for as you chat with someone? What words do each of these types use to communicate and how can you mirror or match them and still get your point across?
For a Heart person you will hear a lot about their feelings and the feelings of others. They are sensitive to the needs and motivations of others and want group harmony. They are very aware of how their work affects others and want to be a team player. Listen for words that are making sure everyone is heard.
For you, as the person trying to communicate, do these things for better communication with a Heart person. Allow for small talk; do not start the discussion right away. Stress the relationship between your proposal and the people concerned. Show how the idea worked well in the past. Indicate support from well-respected people. Use an informal writing style.
For a Soul person you will hear a lot about innovation and creativity. They love looking at all the possibilities and are open to new opportunities to do something new and exciting. They love big picture thinking without concern for the details around execution. Listen for words that are vision oriented and looking for alternatives.
For you, as the person trying to communicate, do these things for better communication with a Soul person. Allow enough time for discussion. Do not get impatient when they go off on tangents. Try to relate the discussed topic to a broader concept or idea. Stress the uniqueness of the idea or topic at hand. Emphasize future value or relate the impact of the idea to the future. If writing, try to stress the key concepts that underlie your recommendation at the outset. Start with an overall statement and work toward the details.
For the Mind person you will hear a lot about planning and organization. They are eager to have all the facts and want to do analysis. They want to create procedures so to eliminate any issues that may arise. They are the first to suggest testing or trying out ideas before adapting as policy. Listen for words that are an attempt to exercise control over what they are responsible for within the project.
For you, as the person trying to communicate, do these things for better communication with a Mind person. Be precise; state the facts. Organize your discussion in a logical order: Background, Present situation, Outcome. Break down your recommendations. Include options and alternatives with pros and cons. Do not rush a process-oriented person. Outline your proposal.
For the Strength person you will hear a lot about being productive and accomplishing results. They love challenges and want to grow in their performance levels in all areas. They are quick to make decisions and then to act on them so they can see change. Listen for words that help them achieve objectives and move them forward.
For you, as the person trying to communicate, do these things for better communication with a Strength person. Focus on the result first; state the conclusion at the outset. State your best recommendation; do not offer many alternatives. Be as brief as possible. Emphasize the practicality of your ideas. Use visual aids.
After these explanations, can you identify which number goes with each type of person? (answers are below) Do you see where you fit in?
With a simple framework and few tools (clues) you can become the excellent listener and communicator that others will want to follow. Here is a simple listening exercise for you the next time you are in a project meeting, having coffee with a friend, or working with a client.
Listen for words that are asking/answering the WHAT, HOW, WHY, or WHO (again, we see the four-category style).
What- How will this get done and what will the results be if I do it?
How- What are the strategies we need to use and in what order will it be carried out?
Why- How is this important to my life and work and be exciting to do?
Who- How am I a part of the ‘team’ and can help make it work?
By simply listening to the questions they are asking, the vocabulary they are using, and by understanding the underlying motivations, you can quickly deduce what category they fall into and adjust your style from there.
The key to communicating effectively with team members, clients/customers, and/or with our own families starts with us. We are the ones in the driver seats to create the two-way interaction that we seek and the connection that will make them feel heard.
Because here’s a secret. No matter how much you think you know about other people—even your partner, your child, or someone who’s worked one desk over from you for twenty years—those people will surprise you when they feel heard and are responded to in their own communication style.
Your ‘flexible communication style’ will open them up and they will bring their best to the project, initiative, and opportunity. And when that happens, the information you find out can point the way to deeper understanding of one another, creative solutions for your team, and huge wins for everyone.
Be filled to overflowing,
Answers: Heart #3, Soul #4, Mind #2, Strength #1