By Shayla Teague, Individual and Family Benefits Consultant
I had the opportunity recently to take a life changing course on social styles through the Wilson Learning Company. This course forced me to take a deep dive into my own communication style and learn to recognize the communication styles of others. It has helped me to not take offense to people that have different styles than my own and flex to their style of communication. All around, this has allowed me to foster more meaningful dialogue, especially in high-stress conversations.
There are four main styles: Analytical, Driver, Amiable, and Expressive. Each style sits in an area of a quadrant that determines if their communication style is more assertive or less assertive and more task oriented or more relationship oriented. Knowing where you sit on the quadrant can help you understand your communication style. This is done through a test offered by Wilson Learning. I will explain each style in more detail.
Tends to work in facts and figures, needs more time to analyze a project, often more serious in demeanor, likely explains in great detail. A person with a dominant analytical personality tends to be less assertive and more task oriented. They aren’t too comfortable discussing emotions. They are likely to ask vs. tell. “Will you please provide the CPA Report.”
More results focused. They don’t need all the details in how you got to the end result, they just want the end result. They value actions and results and don’t need to spend a lot of time on the planning aspect. A driver tends to be more assertive and more task oriented. They don’t like to hear emotion when it comes to work. They are likely to tell vs. ask. “I need the CPA report by 2pm.”
Tend to have high empathy, avoid conflict, want the general consensus of the group, and are team and relationship focused. An amiable person will really focus on how a decision will impact the people in a group. They are less assertive and more relationship oriented. Communications likely focus more on emotion and feelings.
Tend to be more animated and impulsive. They tend to have many ideas and have a hard time sticking to just one. Expressive personalities have a lot of ambition and enthusiasm, however they tend to be more spontaneous. They are more assertive and more relationship oriented.
People do not fit in a box, so we all are not one of these categories and some of our traits likely fit into all four. Everyone has a dominate style and a secondary style and your style is likely to remain the same throughout your adult life. During the course we watched videos of the most extreme scenarios as we were learning to recognize other people’s styles by their behavior, communication and even hand gestures or how much eye contact they make.
My dominant personality is analytical as you may have already caught onto by the writing style of this article. The analytical in the video was portrayed as rigid and standoffish. We were asked if any of us disagreed with our style and I raised my hand and continued to explain why there is NO WAY I could be a dominant analytical. A colleague of mine interjected and pointed out, “Shayla, you are analyzing why you are not an analytical.” Alas, I had to concede to that.
So how does this all play into communication? Surely, we are all aware that people are different and have different ways of communicating. That is where flexing to other styles comes into play and why it is helpful to be able to identify another person’s style. I had a supervisor that was a driver, driver. That means both his dominant and his secondary style fell within the driver quadrant. I always wanted to go into major detail about all the steps that I took to complete a project. It was disheartening for me when he just wanted the results and thought my e-mails were too long. It can be exhausting for a driver to listen to all the details when they just want you to get to the point. Because of the training I was able to recognize him as a driver and so I was able to adjust the way that I communicated projects with him. I could just give him the necessary information and leave out the fluff. If I am communicating the same project to an amiable style, they may think I am being abrasive by communicating in this manner. I may want to keep some of the fluff or emotion in my communication.
Knowing your style and being able to recognize the style of others can help communication immensely. This is especially the case if you are in a supervisory role. Flexing to the style of your employee can help them feel valued and heard.
Source and link to Wilson Learning Course and Handbook: