A Publication of WTVP

We cannot “not” communicate. Our non-verbal behavior speaks volumes whether we realize it or not. We’ve heard it before: “Know who you’re talking to and adapt your communication style to your listeners’ style.” As many times as I’ve been told this is the key for creating and managing relationships, I observe the opposite to be true. Whether I’m observing a speaker or sales representative, or having a one-to-one conversation with a client, it’s obvious their messages are about them. They’re oblivious to reading their listeners’ non-verbal and verbal cues. This is not that difficult to do. Imagine where you could take your relationships with others if you took the time to listen to what works for them.

We have preferences-certain skills and behaviors that make us who we are. Recognizing styles in yourself and others can help you influence and build relationships and become a better communicator.

There are a variety of instruments that identify individual communication styles. For the purpose of this article, I’ve chosen the four communication styles by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. This instrument is easy to follow and apply. These styles are based on tendencies to be task-oriented vs. people-oriented and easygoing vs. take-charge. While these are simplifications, tendencies of the four styles are:

By being aware of your communication preference, you’ll have a better understanding of how others perceive you. The ability to recognize and adapt to your listeners’ communication styles will make them feel like you’ve taken the time to listen and focus on their needs. This results in a positive experience and strengthens the relationship.

You cannot be 100-percent sure what people mean through their non-verbal behavior. You can look for consistencies in their gestures, eye movement, tone of voice and facial expressions.

When communicating with a:

What does your communication style communicate to others? Does your serious expression communicate you don’t want to be there? Does the lack of eye contact communicate you’re disinterested? Does your quick rate of speech communicate you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for them?

Five characteristics for being flexible and open to others’ styles:

If your listeners’ facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice or gestures concern you, check it out.

Take this five-minute challenge: During your next conversation listen to the other person’s non-verbal behavior. Pay attention to your reaction: Are you willing to adjust your style? Are you willing to adapt your message to grab their attention? Is your message for you or them?

You can develop most of the above skills that don’t come naturally to you. They’re worth taking the time to develop because of the positive results you will receive.

“Minds are like parachutes; they work best when open.”
–Lord Thomas Dewar

Stacey Hanke, a graduate of University of Wisconsin, started her career in radio, where she did voiceovers for commercials. Inspired to help professionals to maximize verbal skills, Hanke founded her own professional speaking company, 1st Impressions Consulting, Inc, in August 2003. She has coached over 10,000 individuals and delivered over 500 presentations to national and international business groups. iBi