How To Define Your Communication Style

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Technology has come a long way in helping us to communicate with customers. Between teleconferences, the Internet, and other advancements, we can communicate with people halfway around the world. But, the message we convey is still up to us. We have to make sure we send messages that are clear to the recipient.

If we don’t send clear messages, we have misunderstanding and conflict. Our productivity and profitability goes down. Communicating is much more than just writing the correct words and saying grammatically correct sentences. Our communication style is shaped by our emotional state, our current situation, frame of reference and our preferred style of communication.

People communicate and interact with the world through senses—mainly visual, auditory and tactile (movement, touch, taste and smell). Everyone uses these three modes, but most people use one mode as their primary. According to research, most people are visually-oriented, while the fewest number of people use hearing as their primary mode.

To guarantee that messages are communicated correctly, we must learn how to communicate in another’s particular style, or mode. To find out someone’s primary mode, you must:

1. Listen to the verbs they use
2. Watch their eye movements during conversations
3. Observe their behavior
4. Ask in which style they like to get new information
5. Be aware of your own style

Let’s take a closer look at each mode.

Visual. Visually-oriented people create mental pictures when they communicate with people. They’ll often express themselves by saying “I just don’t see it the same way you do” or “It looks good to me.” They will use verbs such as look, see, picture, and imagine. When they are thinking, their eyes will look faraway, so that they can form a mental picture. They also may blink to clear the picture in their mind, or they may look directly at you in response to your questions. To effectively communicate with them, use colorful and vibrant pictures, displays or charts. Flyer or poster printing works well with this group.

Auditory. People that communicate by listening and talking will express themselves by saying “I hear what you’re trying to say” or “That doesn’t sound right to me.” They learn better by listening to recorded information and music. They might use words such as hear, listen and talk when explaining something. When they are thinking, their eyes will go over to the side, often repeating in their mind’s ear the question or statement just made. To effectively communicate with them, make sure to fully discuss the topic and answer all of their questions. You can’t just say “Read the brochure,” you need to tell them what’s in the brochure.

Tactile. These people like to take action. They prefer movement in their interactions. They might say “I feel this situation is getting tough” or “I can’t grasp the idea.” They will use action-oriented verbs such as feel, touch, hold and move. When they are thinking, their eyes will go down to get in touch with their emotions and any motion involved in the statement or question. To effectively communicate with them, you need to be hands-on, such as letting them use or handle your product.

These days your message can get lost in the shuffle since people are exposed to so many messages throughout the day from varying technology. Look at the world from another’s point of view—especially from your customers’ or vendors’, and make them feel like you’re really listening to them by communicating in their preferred style. By communicating in their style, you’ll enhance performance, increase productivity and improve relationships, which will all enhance your bottom line.”

Author: Robert Johnston

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