The one communication principle that transcends all personality types

Have you done your DISC profile - or perhaps you’re more into Myers-Briggs or HBDI?

There’s no shortage of programs and models to categorise people into different “styles”; some relating to leadership, others to learning, decision-making or communication. Most are rigorous, based on solid research, and they are making an impact on businesses across the globe. 

Many of my clients use at least one of these programs. While they each have a slightly different angle, the overarching effect of these models is that people begin to realise the whole world doesn’t think and behave exactly like them.

For some this is old news, however in my experience it’s a brand new concept for many people. When they get it at a deep level, it has a profound impact on their world.

This is a fundamental principle of effective communication and it’s one that never goes out of style.

To cut through with your communication - whether in a conversation, an email, a report, a small or large presentation – it’s essential to focus first on the needs of your audience. That might be an individual, but it could also be a large group.

The more you put yourself into the shoes, hearts and mind of the people consuming your information, the more impact you’ll have as a communicator. 

The various models I’ve referred to can be a great help. Recently I worked with a group of banking analysts, many of them very data-driven. Their biggest communication challenge was building effective connections and rapport with others.

At the other end of the scale, I worked with a passionate team in the human services sector, very skilled at connecting and empathising with their clients. They needed to include more analysis and evidence in their communication to build credibility.

You’re continually interacting with people who have different behavioural styles. It can help to think of the various styles – particularly those set out in one of the quadrant models - as different countries that each have their own language. If you’re firmly placed in one quarter of the model and want to connect and communicate clearly with someone from another style, you’ll need to learn a little of their language or risk being misunderstood.

Whichever model you work with - or maybe you don’t work with any of them at all - the key is always to focus on the audience first and match your approach, tone and language with the style that will resonate most with them.

When you think of the people in your world, how can you flex your style so you take on some of their preferred language and characteristics to get your message through? Those who do this effectively are displaying the qualities of well-rounded communicators.

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