Say what? How to effectively tailor workplace communication

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tailor workplace communication

By Kelly Gregorio, Advantage Capital Funds

We have been practicing it since infancy, and yet at times, mastering the art of communication can seem almost impossible. Communicating with others can be challenging, and in a work environment, finding the most effective way to converse can seem like an ever-changing code you just can’t crack.

The first thing to realize is that there is not one end-all-be-all way to successfully get your point across. In fact, the secret lies in recognizing the colorful array of communicators out there and tailoring your tactics to fluently speak each one’s language.

The Nerdy Communicator
Not to knock the nerd approach, but there is little denying that calculated and careful communication requires consideration, examination and time. Slower than most, the nerdy communicator relies heavily on fact and may even hover over details with the intensity of a microscope.

The plus side: Because of their pace and precision, the nerdy communicator usually gains enough insight to point out the most plausible and threatening consequences of a decision.

Warning: The nerdy communicator will not respond well to a loud, fast-talking counterpart. Instead, afford them some time and space to think things through and set an appointment (even if it is only an hour later) to discuss things further.

Also, because the nerdy communicator values facts above all else, he can sometimes come off as insensitive to the emotional factors that can bend decisions. Understand this and respect his style, but don’t let it disqualify a gut feeling that is just as willing to guide you.

The Vintage Communicator
Like a fine wine, the vintage communicator can have a tendency to keep things bottled up. Polite and reserved, the vintage communicator tends to share her thoughts and opinions only when pressured enough to pop a cork. Additionally, despite the varied blend of emotions, insights and flavors that led her to her opinion, she usually skips the detailed explanations and instead pours out a single-serving point.

Warning: Talking to the vintage communicator can at times be off-putting; edging her on to elaborate can make you feel like an annoying nuisance. Work on getting her to participate by asking questions that require more of an explanation than a simple yes or no. Instead of asking, “Do you like that new feature?” ask, “What do you think is the best and worst thing about that new feature?” instead.

Whenever you do have a successful interaction, be sure to thank her for her divulgement (“Your explanation really helped me see things differently, so thanks for taking the time to point those details out.”) as a way to communicate your need and appreciation for a two-way talk.

The Transparent Communicator
In relation to the others, the transparent communicator has some refreshing qualities. You always know where you stand with him. With zero room or interest to hide agendas, the transparent communicator tells it like it is and is driven by reaching a swift and sound decision, implementing it and then moving on.

Warning: Chances are slim to none that the transparent communicator will approach you by sheepishly looking down at the ground while kicking up some dirt and chuckling out an “aw shucks.” Quite the opposite: Expect the transparent communicator to look you in the eye and request your immediate feedback and thoughts.

Do not allow yourself to become flustered or feel rushed by this direct approach. Intimidation is not a friend of mutual communication. Allow yourself time to put your best thinking forward. Just be sure to set a deadline, confirming when you will get back to him and the conversation with your collected thoughts.

Communication truths
While everyone communicates differently, there are some general rules that would be good practice to adopt and apply across the board. Here are five universal communication truths:

  • The quickest way to resolve a conflict or reach a mutually agreed upon decision is to understand where the other person is coming from and find a way to appeal to her needs. Achieve this by listening a little bit more than you talk.
  • Cultural differences, nature and nurture provide us with our own ideal communication DNA. Be flexible with the communication tactics and preferences of others.
  • People can easily grant their emotions the power to drive their thoughts and motivations. Take command of the conversation by finding a common goal that you and your communicator can both align yourselves with and then work toward ways to reach it.
  • People want to feel heard and satisfied. Give feedback, reiterate their concerns and strive to give people what they want (or at least meet them halfway).
  • It never hurts to have a friend. Engage in nonwork-related conversation every once in a while to maintain a friendly rapport, allowing you to approach further conversations with ease.

Kelly Gregorio writes about business trends and tips while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a merchant cash advance provider. 

How well do you communicate with others in the workplace?

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