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Communication Styles

The communication process is different for different people because they have different styles of interaction. Communication importance is not shared by everyone. Some people value their ability to communicate effectively more than others. To best understand workplace communication styles, consider those who value communication low, medium and high.

  • Low communication importance is the result of believing one operates independently and does not rely on effective interaction with others in order to carryout duties well.
  • Medium communication importance is found among people who know they must interact well with others, but do not see their skill at interaction as a core competence.
  • High communication importance results from an awareness of the value that is generated through interaction, and the belief that one’s personal skill in this area can make or break effective performance. Among those who have very high communication importance, there is recognition that highly skilled communication is a direct enabler of excellence in performance.

Organizational communication, by necessity, works with people in all three areas. That is simply the result of variety among communication styles as it appears in any population.

People who lead change tend to fall in the last group, valuing communication highly. Even if the capacity does not come naturally, change leaders recognize the necessity of developing their communication skill to achieve transformational change.

To maximize impact, you have to know how to communicate effectively with people in all three categories. Here are some tips:

  1. When interacting with people who hold communication in low esteem, focus primarily on the benefits they stand to gain. Do not expect reciprocation, at least not verbally. They are apt to see themselves as disconnected, independent, detached from the rest of the system. This is not a flawed view, though it presents challenges. It is simply their perception. Do not treat them as if they are broken. Instead, help them to recognize the value that comes from participation in the change program as it relates to their condition.
  2. Most people fall in the medium value range. Their communication skills come as a result of their need to collaborate and build consensus with their colleagues around critical issues. Their skillset gets the job done. You can expect full engagement with them, but they are not likely to be able to play hard and fast at innovation.
    They are capable of generating new ideas and can be a valuable source of input. But, their capacity to interact is limited when compared to those who have high value for communication. Providing them with structured interaction can yield high-performance results. In essence, you are giving them the tools they need to get to the next level of contribution.
  3. Those who have high regard for communication will come to you ready to play and play hard. They are like musicians who are classically trained and enjoy jazz. They have their basics in solid working order and know how to improvise on a theme, and work with others to achieve synergy. Take advantage of their expertise and invite them to participate in strategy design as well as tactical innovation.

For a more thorough treatment of how to generate engagement and buy-in, read my book, Getting Change Right. It’s all about the people side of change, including the best ways to communicate. It is filled with templates, instructions, and guides for creating the kind of engagement that leads to widespread buy-in and support.