For great leaders, effective communication is critical to success – it is not a nice-to-have skill, it is a daily necessity. That is why it makes sense to focus on being able to do it well. But what’s the secret? Here is my take on it.
Understand everyone has their own preferences
One of the most important goals to communicating effectively is to develop insights into your audiences’ behavioural styles and communication preferences, along with communicating the right message, at the right time, in the right way.
There are four main behavioural styles, each with their own communication preferences.
1) The Relator: prioritises maintaining relationships / fears confrontations /seeks attention/ likes you to be pleasant.
2) The Socialiser: prioritises relationships and interacting / fears loss of prestige / seeks recognition / likes you to be stimulating.
3) The Thinker: prioritises process / fears embarrassment / seeks accuracy / likes you to be precise.
4) The Director: prioritises results / fears loss of control / seeks productivity / likes you to be to the point.
1) The best communicators adapt their style to their audience, effortlessly.
2) They successfully use communication to build relationships, trust and rapport.
3) They mirror the communication styles of others.
What does this mean for you? It means that, unless you already effortlessly adapt your style to suit your audience, you need to build your skills and capacity to recognise others’ preferences – and adapt yours to match theirs.
There is some help below (see coaching questions), but first a case study!
A client of mine, let’s call her Sophie, is energetic, full of ingenuity, has strong people skills and is highly versatile. She is also known for her imaginative use of ideas and her enthusiastic rallying of the troops to achieve objectives. Others describe Sophie as expressive and cooperative, adaptable and collaborative.
During our coaching sessions Sophie became aware that her strengths, when overdone, could sometimes derail her. She sometimes neglected to focus on important details needed to implement plans, made strong assumptions and projections that were incorrect and easily got bored with routine stuff. Sometimes she even pulled the team off track without realising it.
As Sophie became more aware of her behavioural style and preferences, she became aware that others might see her as too talkative or as randomly interjecting ideas.
1) What behavioural style does Sophie have?
2) What can Sophie do to adapt her approach when dealing with people who have other styles?
3) What style and preferences do you relate to most, why?
4) What style and preferences do you relate to with difficulty, why? What can you do differently?