Exploring Communication Styles
In this episode, Brian, Linda, and I reflect on our communication patterns and preferences as leaders and give each other feedback to better understand how we are actually communicating. We also model an activity on the show that you can do at home, so enjoy this episode and then try it for yourself!
Exploring Communication Styles
According to Wikipedia, Communication is defined as the act of developing meaning among entities or groups through the use of sufficiently mutually understood signs, symbols, and semiotic conventions. Now we all know that communication is important, you’re always communicating something, but HOW do we help teams get to a place of effectively communicating with one another so that they can get out of their own way and further the mission of the organization?
We believe that everyone has established preferences and patterns when it comes to communication. When working with teams around this topic, one of the first things we do is help people understand these patterns and preferences so that they can use those to effectively communicate with others. If you can better understand how you are communicating to engage others, you will be more effective at engaging others. I need to know where I’m coming from to get to where you are.
Learn Your Communication Style
Try this activity at home to explore your own communication style. This is a great activity to do with friends, coworkers, or teammates, but make sure it’s done in an environment of trust and mutual respect and where you’ve set up the activity together. The goal of this activity is to gain a personal understanding of how we really communicate and how we actually prepare ourselves to engage others.
Ask yourself: what is your preparation style? What do you do? What do you think of and how is it that you prepare to be in a role of influence with other people? Next, ask yourself: how do you react? How do you respond once the communication process happens? Do you kind of navigate the course that you’ve already set? Do you completely throw that course out the window and follow along with what’s happened?
Reflect what you’ve learned about yourself with people who care about you and to whom you care about, then ask: how am I communicating?
Communication Style Reflections
Linda, Brian, and I share about our individual communication styles and the communication styles we’ve observed in each other. Here’s what we learned:
Linda’s Communication Style
Linda: I grew up listening to a lot of great speakers. I spent a lot of time with my parents at different keynotes at different services where I learned how people leveraged humor, how they talked, and I wanted to shape some of my communication style off of some of these great orders. I also knew that my parents knew how to connect with audiences and their communication style would come out that way.
As I saw them leading very differently, my mother is very organized and what I learned from her is that when she was getting ready to address a crowd, she would script everything out. From how she was going to open to how she was going to close everything in the middle. And I began to follow that lead. Even now, I will still sometimes script out everything out word for word when I talk. For me, the art is bringing the written word alive into a spoken word that really inspires. Now, if I would learn from my father’s style, I saw him writing notes as well, but he always wanted to connect with the crowd, make them laugh.
Brian & Nathan: Writing plays a key role in Linda’s communication style. For years, I have watched her write things out to where she’s extremely prepped. She is very scripted almost like she’s in front of crowds doing a keynote or speaking to a large group of people. And it is. That script provides her with a level of preparation where she can be very reactive to what’s going on because she’s confident in what she’s going to say. She’s more at ease. She’s much more fluid in her delivery. But the unique thing I really noticed about Linda’s communication style as a leader is that she will initiate some kind of response from the crowd. It’s like her father, where she initiates the response, and then she’s reacting to what comes or she’s responding back. But when Linda begins to write things down, she’s at a different level of engagement because now she’s taking notes on what she’s hearing, and I can watch her then weave that back into the conversation down the road. That’s where I feel that she’s really zeroing in on that one-to-one communication, even though she’s in front of a group, she’s going to make it sound like she’s talking right to you because she sees the group as one. Two more words for Linda’s communication style are preparation and presence. All of that preparation that no one sees is to prepare the room for Linda to be present.
Brian’s Communication Style
Brian: One of the things I know I do is spend a lot of time in preparation. I feel like I proactively prepare for whenever I’m going to be in front of people or talking with people and that includes a lot of thinking, reading, writing, listening to music, to kind of get my mind where it needs to be. I’ve always been mindful of that process, but then what I’ve learned is that once I show up somewhere, or once we’re engaging a group, I’m extremely dependent on watching and listening to the audience, giving and receiving feedback, giving that time to react. And then I often struggle on what I prepared or what I feel like I need to react to. I think over time I’ve become much more reactive in my communication style and not so heavy on the preparation, but there’s still that preparation. If I don’t have time to think into it, I just feel like I’m not ready
Nathan & Linda: What I’ve experienced of Brian on a more one-on-one basis or in a small group setting is kind of going back to that preparation thing. If you’re talking with Brian about something that he hasn’t had time to think about, he almost turns into a stone statue and you’re like, what is he thinking? What is he feeling? He has a tremendous capacity to think and to plan, especially if it’s a new idea. Almost like it blows his mind to the point where he turns into a statue.
Nathan’s Communication Style
Nathan: I need to have a plan, but also need to have some kind of flexibility. I also know that I’m a very collaborative communicator. I always try really hard to be intentional in the way that I’m communicating, at least on a broader professional level.
Brian & Linda: You have an extremely unique relational style by engaging people quickly and drawing them in so they feel really comfortable, and then you can just respond on whatever is happening after that. A controlling question that you often ask is what are we trying to say here? What am I trying to say? That question prompts all of your preparation and all of our preparation for all of our podcasts. It makes us better. It improves the way we say things and how we say things. It’s an inclusive statement. It can also mean, what are you trying to do here? A true gift of your communication style is in that inquiry and in how you ask questions. It helps people truly understand what are they trying to say, what are they trying to do, and how they’re trying to connect.
Exploring Your Communication Style
What have you learned about your communication style? What parts are working well? Are there parts you could refine and grow to communicate more clearly? Connect with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you and learn more about how you communicate.
About The Leadership Vision Podcast
The Leadership Vision Podcast is a weekly show sharing our expertise in the discovery, practice, and implementation of a strengths-based approach to people, teams, and culture. We believe that knowing your Strengths is only the beginning. Our highest potential exists in the ongoing exploration of our talents. Subscribe to the Leadership Vision Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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