It’s odd that two people speaking the same language find so many opportunities to misunderstand each other. Think of a few people who you just can’t seem to have a meaningful conversation with or come to a consensus with; they zig when you zag. You maybe speaking the same language, but you are doing it in very different ways. Author Philip Yancey wrote, “Misunderstanding must be nakedly exposed before true understanding can flourish.” We rarely have the luxury of exposing ourselves at work, especially nakedly. Wilson Learning has a more efficient, legal method: it has identified four different “social styles” that each of us falls under: Driver, Expressive, Amiable, and Analytical. Knowing and understanding your preferred style, as well as the styles of your coworkers, can help everyone communicate more effectively
To determine your social style, you can take a survey that you answer as an individual. What makes this process even more interesting and unique is having three to five coworkers or peers answer the questions about you as well. Therefore you not only have your perception of your communication style but others’ perspectives as well. This extended administration of the survey adds greater depth and objectivity to provide a more truthful determination of your social style.
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The tool places you in a quadrant (Expressive, Driver, Amiable, Analytical), and then a quadrant within that quadrant. So, for example, my social style is a Driver Expressive. Let’s say I’m giving a pitch, and by astonishing luck, each of the four people in the room corresponds to a different social style (which, for our purposes is greatly generalized!).
- The Driver is someone who is very results- oriented. I need to speak to her in terms of results, of what this product or service or idea is going to achieve.
- The Expressive person needs to see a beautiful PowerPoint to bring the pitch to life because he is very visual and needs to see this in action.
- The Analytical person doesn’t care about the PowerPoint, no matter how pretty. She cares about the analytics. On what grounds are you making these claims? What do you have to back up your assertions?
- The Amiable person is human-oriented. Have you considered everyone’s opinion? Is this going to work for everyone? Is it inclusive?
For this pitch, I’d talk about results, have a great visual representation, lay out the facts, and play up the human factor. For bonus points, I’d tailor my comments to each individual when appropriate. I want to get each of these people on board, and the best way to get them there is to appeal to their unique social styles.
According to Wilson, you are likely to share a style with 25 percent of the people you meet. That’s one in four. Really, though, it’s the other three people who are probably going to wind up on your team! We have to learn to adapt to the other 75 percent. When you have insight into how you communicate, and how others prefer to be communicated with, it provides tremendous benefits in productivity, morale, retention, and engagement. Understanding social styles is the key to unlocking the power of effective communication.