Technology and the evolving needs of companies have changed workplace roles across generations. Similarly, the ways we communicate with colleagues have also undergone shifts.
Decades ago, people mostly relied on handwritten messages. Then, they began creating documents on typewriters, and the computers.
More recently, many employees are resorting to just texting things to each other at work, or at least using email.
Face-to-face communication still has a place too, especially if maximum clarity is essential. Talking to someone in person also has benefits to it that online communication isn’t able to mimic, such as body language and emotion.
Everyone has a preferred office communication style whether they realize it or not, and yours can reveal many things about your personality. However, relying on a certain communication style all the time also has its downsides. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come with yours, and understand how to minimize them.
Let’s look at some of the most common communication styles used in workplaces. We’ll also explore what they reveal about you.
Storytellers use descriptive language to capture attention
As you might guess by the name, people who use the storytelling communication style commonly use descriptive language and vivid examples to get their points across or explain concepts and trends. They may also rely on memorable anecdotes to attempt to make the things they say easier to understand.
Research shows that storytelling stimulates emotions, facilitates teamwork and nurtures motivation, so this method can work very well when trying to get people to support an idea or goal.
People who like to communicate through storytelling are comfortable being in the spotlight and addressing groups, but they also know how to hold the attention of just one person. Although storytelling has obvious merits, those who practice it might not get to their main ideas as quickly as some listeners might prefer.
Younger generations love text messages
Do you primarily reach out to people at work via text message? If so, your age might have something to do with your preferred communication style. Statistics indicate that millennials frequently mention texting as the method they like best for conversing with people.
Also, a study found 83 percent of millennials open texts within 90 seconds of receiving them. People from this generation appreciate the speed and convenience of text messaging. They also usually have their phones within reach because they’re so used to technology.
However, text messages can create a divide between younger generations and older ones at an office. People in the latter group are not always accustomed to texting because they’ve used other methods for comparatively long periods of time. Therefore, it’s important for people who regularly communicate using text messaging to realize their recipients may not always have their phones handy or consider themselves tech-savvy.
Leaders often display the directive communication style
If you or someone you know prefers taking action rather than just thinking about doing so, that’s a characteristic of the directive communication style in action. People who are currently in leadership roles, or aspire to be, often prefer this communication style.
People who like this communication style typically demonstrate by example that they like being in charge and do not mind taking risks. This way of interacting works well when individuals hearing the messages are in subordinate roles or do not feel confident in their abilities. However, it can backfire if abused, or used to speak to competent people who are self-assured.
Because people who like using this communication style are comfortable with setting goals, they are very result-oriented. However, they commonly expect people to agree with them and may not be open to lengthy discussions featuring alternative ideas.
Videos help make concepts clearer and more interesting
Communicating with videos is a newer communication method that’s excellent for helping people show concepts that are difficult to describe with words alone. For example, if you have to walk someone through several steps of a complicated process, videos can reduce confusion.
Furthermore, videos work well for increasing engagement. Research indicates most people prefer to watch a video about something than reading text about it.
Individuals who like using this communication strategy are comfortable being on screen or setting up shots for maximum effectiveness. As such, they tend to have an awareness of how seemingly minute details such as lighting and angles could improve or detract from the result.
The assertive communication style is used by problem solvers
People who prefer the assertive communication style state their needs and desires. Additionally, they often respect the feelings and beliefs of others.
Instead of ignoring problems or hoping someone else will handle them, assertive communicators usually tackle issues as they arise. They’re also potentially more likely than some to let people weigh in on how to resolve them. That’s because they work best in environments of mutual respect and value listening to others without interruptions.
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Passive-aggressive communicators are not always as they appear
Being around a passive-aggressive communicator can lead to surprising outcomes. That’s because these people often have different feelings than what they show on the outside. As a result, they can often disrupt the workplace.
When individuals feel weak and powerless, they may display this communication style. However, those feelings can stay bottled up and make those harboring the feelings resentful. Passive-aggressive people avoid confronting issues.
Conversely, passive-aggressive communicators hate drama and conflict and tend to steer clear of it. Those attributes can make them unlikely to perpetuate problems in the workplace stemming from communication breakdowns or other difficulties.
Analytical communicators are data-driven people
Analytical communicators depend on numbers and other types of hard data to give opinions or feedback. In fact, they may be suspicious of people who cannot back up their claims with evidence.
These people are great time managers by nature. They also take a practical approach when looking at situations. By leaving extreme emotions out of the equation, they’re frequently able to remain objective and encourage others to do the same.
If you thought some characteristics of a particular communication style sounded just like you but others didn’t, that’s okay. Researchers believe people typically display more than one kind of style at once, just like individuals usually communicate through multiple digital channels or employ several methods simultaneously.
Based on what you know now, strive to remain aware of how these styles and strategies can affect you and your coworkers in both positive and negative ways. If it appears the way of communication isn’t getting the desired results, don’t be afraid to make adjustments depending on the situation and the audience.