Dr. Mark Frohman

Dr. Mark Frohman

Styles govern your communication with others

By Dr. Mark Frohman
Business Columnist

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Different people communicate differently. Undoubtedly, you already know that. However, you might not know different styles of communicating are pretty much hard-wired into people, meaning they seldom reflect conscious choice. Yet style differences create misunderstandings and prevent successful communication.

The four main communication styles are:

  • Interpersonal, or the relator.
  • Affective, or the socializer.
  • Cognitive, or the thinker.
  • Behavioral, or the director.

The relator is relationship-oriented and readily expresses his or her thoughts and feelings. However, relators are generally slower paced and security conscious, so they prefer less intrusive interactions.

The socializer prefers to interact with others rather than work alone. Socializers have a fast-paced, aggressive communication style and generally work well with others.

The thinker has a closed, personal style and is analytical in his or her approach. Thinkers take a while to feel comfortable with others, and tend to take longer to reveal information about themselves.

The director has an aggressive, competitive nature and is very independent. Directors are results-oriented and focus less on the people impact.

Avoiding derailed communication means being good at recognizing and interacting with each style.

To connect with a relator:

  • Speak in a moderate pace with a softer voice and moderate tone.
  • Seek and listen to his or her opinions and ideas.
  • Try not to counter his or her ideas with logical arguments.
  • Allow time for him or her to make a decision to reduce pressure.
  • Aim for mutual agreement on work goals and completion dates.

To connect with a socializer:

  • Make direct eye contact.
  • Speak in an energetic and fast-paced manner.
  • Support your ideas with the opinions of people he or she respects.
  • Allow some socializing time in meetings.
  • Talk about experiences, people, opinions and facts.

To connect with a thinker:

  • Be more formal in your speech and manner.
  • Don’t speak in a loud or fast-paced voice.
  • Present the pros and cons of an idea along with options.
  • Follow up in writing.
  • Present information in an organized comprehensive manner.

To connect with a director:

  • Get to the point quickly in a clear manner.
  • Be specific and don’t over-explain or repeat yourself.
  • Make direct eye contact.
  • Minimize small talk.
  • Be organized and well prepared.

These style differences are real, wired in and subconscious. Complaining about someone else’s style or hoping it changes rarely helps. Instead try to recognize and adapt to others’ communication styles.

Start with you. What style of communicator are you? Better yet, ask someone you trust to discuss it with you.

Dr. Mark Frohman is the owner of Frohman Consulting Corp. and a counselor with SCORE, a nonprofit business-consulting group.