According to the work and research of Pierre Casse*, we can identify four main communication styles in all cultures: action, process, people and, idea-centred styles of communication. Although everyone uses all four styles to some degree but there is generally one style that is more dominant in the way we naturally prefer to give and receive information when communicating with others. Each communication style is defined based on a person’s predilection and their own personal values. The communication styles are defined as:
Communicators who are action orientated are focused on results and performance.
Process centred communicators concentrate on facts, procedures, details, and proof.
Communicators that are people centred focus on feelings, motivations, people, and relationships.
Idea-centred communicators concentrate on concepts and vision.
Not one communication style is stronger, better, or more efficient than the other. They are all equally important. In the workplace, we can use our knowledge about the four communication styles to help us communicate more effectively with our colleagues and team members. This is a pretty useful tool to have, particularly when we need to communicate with our teams during times of change.
Consider how we communicate with a team member about any sensitive topic. In the same way that we have to consider and choose the right tone for a message in certain situations, it is just as important to consider that our employee has a dominant communication style (or preference) and that this has a significant influence on how our message can be interpreted by recipients.
It’s not only the recipient of a message that is influenced by their preference. It’s just as important for people managers to understand our dominant communication style, so we can adapt when communicating with others who have a different style. When we don’t adapt, we could make the mistake of only giving the information we THINK would be important (because it is important to us) rather than providing the information that is actually important to the recipient.
For example, if the people manager’s dominant communication style is action centred, they may default to focusing their change messages on the next steps and what needs to happen now. However, a member of their team whose dominant communication style is people centred is more likely to be concerned about how the change affects their role, and what impact it is going to have on the team as a whole. Understanding the different styles of communication and being able to identify them in others enables the people manager to look at each member of the team and recognise what information they should provide in their messaging to help each individual navigate change more confidently.
In the CMC Communication for People Managers Skills4Change® Workshop we provide you with a quick and easy assessment to identify your own dominant communication style. You can use this assessment for yourself and with your team. We explore in more depth what each style means and how you can use this information to take your messaging and communication skills to the next level. Using a series of tools and templates, together we consider questions such as:
- What channel should you use?
- Do you need to speak with anyone individually, or can you arrange a group meeting?
- Who exactly is in your audience, and what information are they going to be looking for?
- What do you do when you do not have all the answers?
These are all key questions we ask when preparing to communicate a change message.
Take a look at the Communication for People Managers Skills4Change® Workshop brochure.