There they were again. My pajamas laid in a crumpled ball in the middle of the bed. Why did my husband throw them there every day? It felt like he was trying to passive-aggressively communicate a direct point – “clean up after yourself and put your pajamas away.” I imagined him grumbling as he wadded them tightly and threw them with vengeance.
When I finally confronted him about it, in my “driver” communication style, I said, “You don’t have to be a jerk about not wanting my pajamas on the bathroom counter.” Then I imitated what I imagined him doing.
Fortunately, my husband (who understands my communication style) laughed in his “expressive” style way and kindly explained he didn’t mind them being on the counter, unless I put them on top of his wallet and phone so he can’t see them and forgets to take them to work. He also jokingly demonstrated the gentle and loving toss with which he placed my pajamas on the bed.
We ended up laughing at how we can communicate so differently, both verbally and non-verbally.
“Communicate with reason and civility” and “Adapt” are two of Leavitt Group’s governing principles and have important application to our communication styles. Learning our own style and adapting to the styles of others can improve our work environment and our personal relationships.
What is your communication style?
The Merrill-Reid/Wilson model defines four primary communication styles – driver, expressive, amiable, and analytical. (Side note: most people are a combination of multiple styles but generally have a dominate style.)
Here’s a quick run-down of the four styles along with strategies on how to work with each one (tracom.com).
Characteristics of those with a driver communication style include being direct, active, forceful, and determined. These individuals initiate social interaction and are focused on results. They direct their efforts and the efforts of others on the goals and objectives they’d like to accomplish.
Strategies for working with a driver-style person:
- Respect their time
- Stick to facts
- Follow up on promises
- Show your competence
- Earn their trust
- Let them have some control
Attributes of people with an expressive communication style can be described as personable, talkative, and occasionally opinionated. They are open with their feelings, both positive and negative, and might seem to react hastily. They value personal approval.
Strategies for working with an expressive-style person:
- Laugh with them
- Listen to their opinions
- Think big picture
- Recognize their contributions
- Lighten up
- Form a friendship
People with an amiable style appear less demanding and usually more agreeable. They value positive, harmonious relationships and personal security. They display their feelings openly and can be described as casual, informal, and easy going.
Strategies for working with an amiable-style person:
- Approach conflict carefully
- Get to know them
- Consider their perspectives
- Draw out their opinions
- Handle issues in private
- Always be courteous
Individuals with an analytical communication style are often seen as logical, quiet, and periodically reserved or cautious. They value being right and may seem distant from others, often not communicating unless they have a particular reason or need for it.
Strategies for working with an analytical-style person:
- Take your time
- Communicate clearly and concisely
- Don’t pressure for answers
- Respect their process
- Ask directly for their feedback
- Give them space
If you’re wondering how to identify your communication style and the style of others, have no fear! Here’s a link to a handy dandy test, with additional information about each style.
As they say, knowledge is power, so understanding and implementing better communication can strengthen every aspect of our lives. Long live pajama-less bathroom counters!