Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?
1998 Rush Hour movie starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker
How many times have you been in a situation where you were trying to communicate with someone and it felt you might as well have been talking to the wall? I remember explaining a concept to a client using a PowerPoint and the client didn’t hear a word I said because he was focused on how he didn’t like the color scheme on the slide.
60% of communications fail because communication styles and preferences are not aligned. Based upon 1999 Stanford Research study.
Our brains are hard-wired to process information and learn a certain way. Most people accept this by now due to the volume of research on the topic. However, we can learn how to adapt to different communication styles to increase our effectiveness.
Sales increased 17% just by a salesperson mimicking the communication style of a potential customer. Harvard Business Review
Our research has identified that most people have one of 4 primary communication styles: Goal-Setting, Lifestyle, Stability and Information. There is a lot you can learn about people and how their brain processes information:
- Learning Style
- Communication Preferences
- Information needs for Decision-making
With this knowledge, you can make some simple adjustments to how you approach a person to help them absorb the information, understand why your communicating and ensure they take away the points you feel are important (the ability to influence them.)
8 Simple Tips to Adapt Your Communication Style for Others:
If you are interacting with a Goal-Setter primary communication type:
1. Start with the End Goal in Mind – What is the purpose of the interaction and how does it connect to your audience’s goal (what’s in it for them?) Use bullets and executive summaries to convey more information with fewer words. Details can be provided after the summary if needed, but Goal-setters don’t read long emails/blogs or sit through long presentations.
2. Provide Options – If you only give them one recommendation or option, you will most likely get pushback or a “no.” They want to be able to make a choice. They will likely want to discuss it.
If you are interacting with a Lifestyle primary communication type:
3. Explain Who is Involved -Being more relationship-focused, their brains first have to understand who is involved, their role, how they fit into the discussion and what they may think about it. They also respond well to social events and informal communication methods.
4. Use Visuals – Rather than send a long email or written instructions use a picture, infographic or demo to better help their brains process the information and retain it. They need to experience it to learn.
If you are interacting with a Stability primary communication type:
5. How You Say It Matters – The right tone is especially important for this group. They prefer supportive and low-risk interactions and solutions. Email may not be the best choice, but if you do send an email, be very careful to consider them as a person and how they might perceive it or “feel” about it.
6. Slow Down and Reassure – They like to be thorough and appreciate step-by-step instructions. They want to be very comfortable and sure of their actions before they act.
If you are interacting with an Information primary communication type:
7. Stick to the facts – They prefer to primarily focus on tasks/results and do not necessarily want a lot of social interactions. They tend to be logical, want to “get to the truth,” and understand “why,” therefore, they are more comfortable when they have more details, information, and research.
8. Don’t Try Appealing to their Emotional Side – I repeat, stick to the facts, policies and procedures, and the logical explanation. If you try to sway them with name-dropping, leverage office politics, oversell a concept with marketing hype or appeal to their emotional side, you will actually repel them, not influence them.