I’ve learned that coming to know your personal communication style is an ongoing adventure. To interact amicably with others, whose styles may differ a little or a lot from your own, requires self-awareness, adaptability, and a willingness to listen. Three key elements not only for communication but for life itself.
Knowing how to navigate varying styles between people with different perspectives and behaviors helps build a bridge for teams to cooperate and complete the work at hand.
I recently completed “Understanding Your Communication Style,” a Level 2 project in the Presentation Mastery path. The work focuses on learning how to recognize all styles—yours and others’—using four categories: direct, initiating, supportive, and analytical. Here are some things I learned:
Before proceeding in this project, you’re required to take the “Discover Your Communication Style” questionnaire. In this brief self-assessment, you’ll answer some thought-provoking questions regarding how others may see you and how you see yourself. After taking it, I came to know what I did not know.
I’m an introvert. I need time to analyze arising circumstances, then I tend to engage with support. I was sure analytical and supportive were my primary styles.
Much to my surprise, direct and initiating styles came in first and second! So much for the soft-spoken, wise owl I thought I was. Even an introvert can be direct and initiating!
Now I listen with greater acuity to those around me. There is a direct speaker, I say to myself. There is an analyzer. As each person starts to speak, I begin to hear where that person is coming from and can answer more effectively—even if the “answer” is to remain silent.
I’m now aware that supportive conversations may require more silence, instead of interjecting what I think. I learned to allow the speaker, friend, or confidante to find their own answers before supplying my thinking.
A week before giving my speech for this project, I used the questionnaire as Table Topicsmaster. Participants responded to questions in what they believed to be their preferred communication style. The entire audience volunteered, and each participant had a chance to verbalize to the group how they relate with the world.
This Pathways project is one that allows you to genuinely listen to where others are coming from, so that you can readily tune into their frequency. With this knowledge, you have the resources to successfully meet anyone at their level.
Christine A. Robinson, DTM is a member of Pitch Perfect Toastmasters, in San Rafael, California, and a charter member of Leaders Worldwide, in San Francisco, California. She coaches and mentors speakers, and is the author of the newly released book Confidently Speaking: The Speaker’s Guide to Standing Ovations. Learn more at www.confidentlyspeaking.net.