Each of us communicates differently to various people in our lives. Likely, you don't speak to your spouse the same way you do your neighbor, nor do you speak to your children the same way you do your parents.
Why does your communication style matter?
We adapt our communication style based on the type of relationship we have. We go even further by adjusting our style to the person's personality, too. We inherently know those who can handle tough talk versus those who are more sensitive. All of us alter our conversation style based not only on the relationship we have with the person but also with their personality.
In our professional lives, it's common for many to just maintain a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating, whether it's an employee, employer, client or co-worker. We typically fall short in genuinely connecting with other professionals when we fail to adapt our communication style to their personalities. This is a disservice to effective communication and hinders our ability to establish strong, trustworthy relationships with other professionals.
By identifying the personality types of those we work with, and adapting our communication style to fit, we could have more influence over the conversation and relationship. As a result, peers better understand ideas, employees have a clearer direction, clients have better expectations and bosses the information they need to make more informed decisions.
What are the different personality types, and how should you communicate with each type?
To adapt your communication style, start by understanding these six fundamental personality types: analytical, controller, personal, supporter, intuitive and functional.
Analytical personalities are fact-based thinkers. They rely heavily on numbers, data, statistics and facts. Anyone presenting information without this supportive information is suspect or ill-prepared at best.
When communicating with a person with this personality style, it's best to jump right in with data. Open your conversation with facts and statistics that support your discussion. Don't lead with small talk or attempt to influence them with emotional reasoning. This type of person prefers a well-organized and detail-driven organization laid out in charts, graphs and lists.
Before approaching or presenting to an analyzer, be prepared with
- Facts and figures
- Well-organized thoughts fully supported by statistics and research
- Answers that can counter skepticism
- Enough time for them to think through the data provided
Often in a position of authority, the controller is known for being a fact-based decision-maker. They are very goal-oriented and typically assigned to leadership roles in the office, on a project or in a decision-making situation.
Unlike the analyzer, they have little room for details and will forge ahead on a project even if they don't have everything they think they need. Since they are mission-driven, being fast, efficient and effective is what they prioritize. They are results-driven, which requires specific, actionable goals.
Before approaching or presenting to a controller, be prepared to
- Get to the point quickly
- Set goals, objectives and subsequent deadlines
- Provide conclusions that are results-based only
- Tackle objections in a non-emotional way
Connectors are warm in personality and value relationships above all. They work to acknowledge others and ensure everyone is heard. They are known for being approachable, warm, outgoing and friendly. They don't care for conflict.
Don't be fooled into thinking this personality is a pushover. They typically possess a great deal of influence over others because they value relationships and work hard to ensure everyone is heard.
This type of personality responds well to established relationships built on credibility and rapport. They prefer emotionally driven conversations and like sharing their ideas and feelings. As a result, they tend to make decisions based as much on emotion as on the facts put before them.
Before approaching or presenting to a connector, be prepared with
- Time for small talk and personal conversation
- Stories and experiences that tie into your overall topic
- Examples that paint a picture of the problem at hand
- A gesture that shows appreciation for their time and attention
This personality type is typically quiet and reserved. Like the connector, they don't like conflict. They are good listeners and dedicated workers. They are capable but do not like taking a stand. This is especially true if it means expressing an opinion contrary to that of an analyzer or controller.
Before approaching or presenting to a supporter, be prepared by knowing
- Which key stakeholders they wish to make happy
- The most important motivating factors they want to resolve
- A specific deadline to share and then gently press for follow-through
- Their concerns about making decisions on their own
Intuitive thinkers are big-idea pursuers. They are trust-based professionals who rely on others to handle the details of projects while they look only to the results generated. Once their expectations are set, they expect nothing less and believe others will follow through with promises.
These types of thinkers hold steadfast to dates promised and deals made. They handle their schedule with scrutiny and value time above all else.
Before approaching or presenting to an intuitive thinker, be prepared to
- Answer to deadline dates
- Deliver on your promises
- Jump right into the topic while avoiding small talk
- Anticipate their questions so a decision can be made quickly
Functional personalities are the machines that make projects unfold. They are process-driven thinkers who pay close attention to details. Most people rely on them to project manage high-priority tasks because they think carefully through options and risks while preparing for all outcomes.
This personality is highly organized and appreciates others who can comprehend overarching scopes of work. Before approaching or presenting to this personality type, come prepared with
- Facts that support your ideas
- Details on how the project or idea will unfold
- Plenty of time to allow them to mull over potential outcomes
- Objective-based conversation only
What are the other benefits of tailoring your communication style?
Knowing the personality types of your peers, bosses, clients and employees will help you be a better communicator. It ensures conversational effectiveness while avoiding frustrating interactions. Understanding the various personality types of those with whom you professionally interact with (and adapting your communication style to meet their needs) can enrich your relationships with your work colleagues and help you command greater respect and influence in the workplace.