Advanced Communication Skills Series Posted by Nicola Maxwell

An ever-increasing focus on cross-collaboration, project team-working and matrix structures means we are now working with a wider cross-section of people.  In order to achieve our goals, securing their buy-in and commitment is critical to our success.

Rather annoyingly though, one approach doesn’t seem to fit all!  So when you want to push forward with an idea why do some people insist on holding back to ensure everything is watertight?  Or, perhaps someone is pressurising you into taking action when you feel that you don’t have enough information to make an informed decision.

This article explains  how you can influence people more effectively by communicating like a chameleon. If you want to be successful, it is important to be more mindful of how we communicate with different types of people.

Broadly speaking there are four communication styles:

Activists have a strong preference for action. They are fast moving, decisive and enjoy taking on responsibility. What frustrates them is when the brakes are applied – hesitation and procrastination are not attributes they particularly value!

Top tips when communicating with Activists
Keep the conversation focused on the desired outcome, give them the top line information and no more, otherwise you’ll lose them. Be enthusiastic and fast paced. Don’t waste time with niceties and keep your messaging short and sharp.

In essence, be brief, be bright and be gone!

Adventurers like to explore ideas and can be relied upon for their creative approach to tasks. They have an openness and enthusiasm that can be infectious. They are frustrated with rules and regulations.

Top tips when communicating with Adventurers
When working with these individuals, it’s vital to paint a picture of the overall aim. Avoid lots of detail – this is when they’ll drift off. Involve them upfront to generate innovative ideas and allow them the freedom to do it their way. Just remember to check in with them to ask for progress updates.

So, paint the picture, involve early and give freedom.

Accordants put people and relationships first. They tend to be open, friendly, compassionate individuals who are easy to get along with. They don’t enjoy being on the brunt of conflict or when tasks are viewed as more important than people.

Top tips when communicating with Accordants
It’s important to build a relationship – they will appreciate you taking an interest in them. Don’t dominate the conversation, gently encourage them to speak and raise any concerns they might have. Show that you’ve considered the ‘people aspects’ of your initiative.

Focus on the relationship, encourage and give time.

Analysts are the knowledge experts. They enjoy analytical work and can be relied upon to dig through the detail. They are logical and thorough in their approach and appreciate time to reflect before making a decision. They dislike over emotional responses and don’t like to be forced into making decisions without all the facts.

Top tips when communicating with Analysts
To get the best out of a conversation with them ensure you’re prepared. They’ll appreciate your thoroughness and attention to detail. If you want them to come up with suggestions or make decisions always give them the information in advance.

Know the detail, explore all options and let them prepare.

To get more from your interactions with others:

  1. Understand your own preferences – although most people can adopt different styles, we usually have one or two styles that are preferred
  2. Consider the preferences of those around you – watch, listen and learn from what people are doing and saying
  3. Compare the two and work out what you might need to change to maximise your working relationships. Be flexible

When it comes to chameleon-like communication, the old saying of “treat others how you wish to be treated” doesn’t really apply. Instead, treat others how they wish to be treated and you’ll have a better chance of getting your message across.

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