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This article was published 08-11-2016

How to bring your message across with high impact

We all have unique communication styles, influenced by many factors such as age, culture, and geography (to name only a few). However, there are different patterns of communication, and when those patterns clash, our message often gets lost in translation.

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Being effective in today’s ‘VUCA world’ relies more than ever your ability to adjust your message to the ‘receiver’ and communicate in clear and easy to digest way.
Consider how effective you are in your communication with your colleagues and business partners? And how to communicate in a more effective way? Which tactics to use?

We are all aware that people use different communication and influencing tactics, however did you realize that we each naturally default to the same tactics every time? Or that the tactics we default to are also the ones to which we are most receptive when somebody else is communicating to us?

What exactly is a communication style?

A communication style is the way in which we share information with others through language. Although we all like to think we're saying exactly what we mean, that's not always the case, especially when we're talking to someone who uses a communication style very different from our own.

Lets have a look at the following two communication patterns:

Competitive versus Affiliative:

If you gravitate toward more of an affiliative style of communicating, you're likely to want to bring people together and work out problems together. For example, when a decision needs to be made, you're likely to bring colleagues into the decision-making process and ask their opinion before you decide.  In general, affiliative communicators prefer a more collaborative style of communication and tend to see direct challenges and open disagreements as aggressive, hostile, and often personal.

On the opposite end of this spectrum are those who are more oriented toward power, competition, and dominance, and their communication style tends to be directed toward these goals. Their conversations tend to be more direct, assertive, and challenging, and when it comes to decision-making, they prefer to make decisions on their own without much or any input from others.

The way you answer should tell you something about your style. While there is nothing wrong with either, the differences should help you see why there may be tension in relationships where one person communicates in one way and the other person's style lies near the opposite end of the continuum.

Direct versus Indirect:

When you need something done, there are two basic ways you can communicate that need: directly or indirectly. Some people are very direct. When they want, need, or feel something, they come right out and say it. There are others, however, who prefer to test the waters before jumping in head first. They don't immediately (or in some extreme cases, ever) say exactly what they want, need, or feel.

When people use direct communication, there is less risk for misunderstanding, yet more risk for offending or surprising the "receiver" by the directness of the message. With indirect communication, there is more risk for misunderstanding, but less risk of offending the "receiver." In either case, though, when the two different styles come together in conversation, there is a greater likelihood for tension and stress in the relationship.

Handling Differences: 

As we said earlier, there are many more styles than the ones described here, and because they all exist along a continuum, the more polar they are among partners, the more stress they're likely to cause in a relationship. But differences don't need to mean that people who use different communication styles are forever doomed to conflict. In fact, it's often our differences that make us interesting, even attracted 
to another person. The keys to making differences work are understanding and flexibility.

Understanding:

Whenever we are aware of something, we are more likely to pay attention to it in our lives and in our relationships. So if this article and our upcoming training makes you stop and think about how your style may come across to others, then you're ahead of the game. The more you know, the better.

Flexibility:

The next step is becoming more flexible in how you approach communication. Once you figure out what your typical style of communicating is, you can use that knowledge to try and figure out how your approach may be affecting your relationship with a specific business partner

In our leadership program amongst other skills you will work on expanding your communication toolbox and increase your ability to use different communication styles. We are not aiming for a big change here; you should feel comfortable using it in your day to day work and it should have impact on the relations you have with your business partners. Because communication styles exist along a continuum, there is always room for a little movement up or down the continuum in an attempt to bring your message across in a more effective way.

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