Learning Your Communication Style

23 April 2020

Effective communication is an exchange of understanding – but what if you have a different communication style to someone else? How will you best communicate your message so they understand?

In this blog, we will describe the four communication styles, outline the difference between deductive and inductive thinkers, and talk about how to adjust your communication style to suit the person you’re talking to.

This information will be particularly useful when you are getting to know your new colleagues and how to best work with them so that, together, you achieve positive outcomes for your organisation.

The following information is based on StudyPerth’s learnings from the Australian Institute of Management in Western Australia (AIM WA) Effective Communication training.

Amiable, Analytical, Driver, and Expressive styles

There are four main communication styles: amiable, analytical, driver, and expressive.

Analytical – a ‘details’ person

  • Common traits: independent workers, quiet, self-disciplined
  • What they value: facts, accuracy, clear deadlines, policies and processes
  • How they work: systematically often preferring analysis over emotion, slower decision-making

  Amiable – a ‘people’ person

  • Common traits: strong team players, cooperative, risk-averse
  • What they value: relationships, a sense of belonging
  • How they work: look for shared interests, achieve objectives through negotiation and mutual understanding

Driver – a person who wants to ‘get things done now’

  • Common traits: impatience, assertive, results-oriented, often leaders in team environments
  • What they value: efficiency, productivity, results, clear directions and outcomes
  • How they work: willing to accept risks, want to move quickly, prefer to have the final say

Expressive – a ‘social’ person

  • Common traits: creative, communicative, competitive, enthusiastic
  • What they value: recognition and approval, relationships, innovation
  • How they work: often make decisions based on emotion, sometimes hasty, don’t always see a plan through to the end

Note: the above characteristics are generalisations only, and people can express different traits across many of the styles. For example, an analytical person may express the traits listed above, but may also value innovation and want to develop a friendship with you.

How to work with different styles

The different styles mean that there are different ways to approach communication. While each style has their own values and traits, it is common that some styles clash more often – namely:

  • Expressive people often clash with analytical people.
  • Drivers often clash with amiable people.

All this means is that, in order to best communicate your message, you will need to adjust your communications to suit a person’s style. Here are some tips about how to work with the different styles:

How to work with Analytical people

  • Take your time
  • Communicate clearly and concisely
  • Don’t pressure them for answers
  • Respect their processes
  • Ask directly for their feedback
  • Give them space

How to work with Amiable people

  • Approach conflict carefully
  • Get to know them
  • Consider their perspectives
  • Draw out their opinions
  • Handle issues in private
  • Always be courteous

How to work with Driven people

  • Respect their time
  • Stick to the facts
  • Follow up on your promises
  • Show your competence
  • Earn their trust before expecting it
  • Let them have some control

How to work with Expressive people

  • Laugh with them
  • Listen to their opinions
  • Think ‘big picture’
  • Recognise their contributions
  • Lighten up
  • Form a friendship

Deductive thinkers vs inductive thinkers

Similar to the styles above, there are also differences in the way people think and the level of details required for them to make a decision or understand the message you’re trying to communicate. There are two types:

  • Deductive thinkers – these people want the points first, and the details second
  • Inductive thinkers – these people want the details first, and the point second

For example, when describing a new project to a deductive thinker, you would describe the overarching purpose of the project first, and follow it with detailed information about the processes that will be taken to achieve the main goal.

How to work with different thinkers

Being able to match what your listener needs is very important if you want them to understand you. You are unlikely to achieve much in your discussion if you are describing the project for the first time in lots of detail to a deductive thinker.

If you are unsure about whether a person is deductive or inductive, read their body language and facial expressions. If you notice they appear to be struggling to follow the conversation, ask them “does this make sense? Would you like some background information?” Their answer to this question will help you determine their thinking style.

Inductive speaking with a deductive person

  • Practice stating the point at the start of the conversation.
  • Try not to think out loud until you get the point in your thought process.
  • In preparation, write down the details then the point. Circle the point, and start the conversation with what you have circled.

Deductive speaking with an inductive person

  • Write down the point you are trying to make then the details. Start the conversation with the bullets of your notes.
  • Ensure you start with the background information first.

In our next effective communication blog, we will talk about the different types of listening and asking effective questions.

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In collaboration with governments, educational institutions and stakeholders, StudyPerth provides a leadership role in building the profile of international education in WA and overseas.