The 4 Basic Communication Styles

that I learned at GEM Conference

Posted by Alexander Todorov on Sun 09 October 2016

4 communication styles

The first GEM Conference in Bulgaria took place on Monday and Tuesday. I missed most of the sessions due to other meetings and tasks but managed to attend a workshop on the topic How to harness the power of influence and communication in entrepreneurship by Plamen Popov and Yassar Markos.

3 Fundamentals for Communication

According to Plamen and Yassar there are 3 key fundamentals for any kind of communication:

  • Willingness to pay the price for this communication to happen;
  • Flexibility because we need to try different approaches until we reach the desired person in a way they can understand what we're saying;
  • Integrity because we always need to be consistent in what we deliver to others so that we always match their expectations.

4 Communication Styles

Then there are 4 basic communication styles based on how formal or informal the communication is and how passive or aggressive it is.

  • Director aka dominant style - they exhibit formal and aggressive communication. Key words for them are results, effectiveness, no small talk, to the point. They dislike wasting their time because they always have something better and more interesting to do. This is why people in this group are the worst listeners. They love conflicts and seek ideas and results.

  • Expresser aka promoting style are dominant/aggressive but informal. They are loud, always speak about themselves, they want public attention and to be unique. They forget details but instead are able to grasp the big picture quite easily. They have lots of energy and passion and love to start new projects and don't complete them.

  • Harmonizer aka supportive style - they exhibit informal and passive communication. They love connections and relationships, they use soft language and look after people and team mates. They don't like conflicts and competitive games. People from this style get impressed when you share personal stories and details with them.

  • Thinker aka analytical style people are formal but non-aggressive. They like to know all the facts and always ask lots of questions because they need to understand the big picture. They need time to understand before they can make a decision. In their lives everything has a particular place. They are prone to postponing tasks until they reach perfection (which they never will).

A person typically has one dominant style and a mix of one or two others. I myself am mostly Director and Expresser aka dominant and promoting with a pinch of Thinker. I mostly lack the Harmonizer traits. However it is more important to know what style the person you are talking to is, not what your personal style is.

When judging the style of others take into account where you stand. A person who is strongly formal and aggressive will view a less formal and mild person as the Expresser or Harmonizer style. However to a 3rd party both of these two persons may appear to be dominated by the Director style.

How to Make a Good Presentation

When presenting to a single person or a small group obviously you have to tailor your presentation according to their communication styles. However when presenting before a large and diverse crowd you need to account for all of them in the following order:

  • Capture the Expresser or promoting style by giving them a promise for something cool and interesting. Because they easily forget details and become distracted you can lose them first.

  • Then capture the Director or dominant style by asserting your authority. State your expertise in the field to establish trust. Also sell them the idea for efficiency because this is the value they need to extract from you.

  • Third comes the Harmonizer or supportive style. They seek open people to connect with. Personal stories and struggles are the best way to engage them.

  • Last comes the Thinker or analytical style. They need to know all the information so you have to give them links and materials for further reading. It is also a good idea to give them the ability to ask you questions later (via email, chat, etc) because they will analyze your ideas and come up with more questions on their own.

I have already started to organize my presentations based on the above 4 key points so hopefully you will see me delivering better talks in the future.

tags: events

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