“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
However, depending on the situation, you may alternate between one, two, or even three styles. It’s like walking. You naturally walk at a certain pace. But then you shift gears to match the pace of someone next to you.
It’s the same with communicating. People prefer to use one style. Our “primary style” is the one we’re most comfortable with. But we also have a backup style.
Typically, this second style is dictated by our situation — the demands of our particular job if at work, the demands of domestic life if at home. We refer to the backup style as our “secondary style.”
Most people vacillate frequently between their primary and secondary styles.
As a result, our overall or specific style becomes a combination of these two styles. It’s like mixing lemon into tea: The concoction has a flavor all its own.
What’s your style? Take the free Straight Talk survey to find out. You’ll see where you are on the Matrix. The Matrix is a very helpful tool because it lets you see the relationship between all sixteen styles at a glance.
You can see how the styles at the top of the Matrix are the most assertive, while those at the bottom are the least so. How those on the left side are most analytical, while those on the right are the most intuitive.
This is not to say that the only thing that distinguishes Directors from Expressers is that one filters for facts and the other for feelings. The behaviors of each style are more complex than that. But certain behaviors are “markers” for each style, and these markers can help us identify a person’s style.
A marker is simply a specific behavior we look for in another person – and ourselves.
Each marker is a clue to help you determine a person’s style. Understanding these markers is the first step to interpreting the styles of people around you.
As you begin to familiarize yourself with each style, certain themes begin to emerge about What Constitutes a Competent Communicator:
Once you start to appreciate the full spectrum of styles, you can also begin fitting your colleagues and friends into the Matrix. You can start to appreciate the dynamic shifts between communication styles.
One time I was teaching a seminar of twelve MBA students. In my introduction, I told them that “we each have a style, and each style has its strengths and weaknesses.” I went on to say that “being conscious of those strengths and weaknesses will be useful to you as managers.”
One of the students raised his hand and said he didn’t see the value of this information. “You’re saying that we need to be conscious of our behavior. But what if we simply can’t do that? I don’t want to be aware all the time of what I’m saying or doing.”
“It’s true that there are different levels of self-awareness,” I said. “But right now you’re asking a question about your level of awareness. Do you see that you have to be somewhat self-aware to ask that?”
“Yes,” he admitted. “But I still don’t see how the information can be particularly useful.”
“It’s no different from math class,” I said. “You learn from your mistakes there. This can help you identify your mistakes – so you can train yourself to behave differently the next time.”
“I still don’t get it,” he said. “You’re asking me to change my behavior.”
I asked him his style.
“Initiator,” he said.
“What do you remember about Initiators?”
“They leap to conclusions before they’ve gathered all the data,” he said. “They need to be more open to understanding other points of view.”
Then he paused.
“Oh I think I get it now.”
|Lesson 22: Straight Talk® to Balance “AQ” and “EQ”
|Lesson 24: It All Starts With Communication Styles