What is your natural communication style?
A lot of the work we do with clients is picking apart communication, breaking it down into something tangible and building systems for people to use it to greater effect. Our fastest growing clients are those that commit completely to this; whether it’s in the context of how their sales team talk to potential customers, or how the management team chooses to interact with staff.
Put simply, people communicate & process information in one of three ways at any given time;
Everyone will use all three of these styles in different situations. Some have a preference, a type they tend to use more often than not, and others blend the three pretty seamlessly. Spotting which style someone is using and tailoring what you say to match that style is the art of effective communication.
We can use a simple analogy of choosing what to eat in a restaurant as a way to explain Think, Feel & Know. Through exaggerating the styles we make them easier to recognise and relate to.
Miss Think is the type of person that walks into a restaurant, sits down and reads every item on the menu. Miss Think carefully analyses each and every option, weighing up the pros and cons of each dish before slowly coming to a decision about what they are going to eat. Miss Think processes information slowly and wants to think through everything before coming to a conclusion.
Mr Feel is the type of person that walks into a restaurant and looks around. They want to see what other people are eating. He looks at the menu and makes a choice. Then a waiter walks by with someone else’s food and they change their mind. Mr Feel is expressive, emotion driven and feels his way through a decision.
Mrs Know is the type of person who probably already knows what they want to eat before walking into a restaurant. She is decisive and quick to choose, soon wanting to move on and get stuck into dinner conversation. Mrs Know leads with her gut instinct and just knows what she wants.
Chances are you probably all know someone who sounds like one of the three personas above. Likewise, you probably recognise similar situations in business (like buying property, signing off the annual accounts and decision making about a new brand logo) where you act like one of the three characters above.
So what does this mean?
We need to style our communication to reflect the people we are talking, one on one this is not too hard but within a group becomes more of a challenge. In the boardroom we often see groups getting frustrated with each other because they process differently; whilst a knower has made a decision the thinker is still weighing up all the options.
A thinker naturally processes information and wants to see the data; they will weigh up options before making decisions which typically takes longer to do. They are analytical and often perform well in technical and financial roles where attention to detail is critical.
A feeler is more emotionally led and visualises what is happening around them, they are led by their gut and will use strong body language. We see feelers excel in all fields, particularly more creative roles such as marketing and those that require more empathy such as HR.
The knowers are not interested in the detail they want straight facts. This can appear to make them brash and dominant; in reality they have processed the data they require and make a quick decision based on their views and beliefs.
When working with groups of clients the first step is to create an understanding in the room that it is ok to operate differently. We all have a preferred style and there is no right or wrong. Once we understand that we are able to improve our communication and work better as a team.
Communicating with groups
A challenge that arises is how to present information to groups of thinkers, feelers and knowers at the same time. If we take a new product launch as an example. The thinker wants the details and a clearly mapped process; they are into the numbers. The feeler is excited by visual cues and will be best communicated with through imagery and increased energy. The knower will be bored after 5 minutes having decided on a viewpoint early on.
To communicate successfully we can change the structure of our presentations to appeal to everyone:
– A snappy introduction and summary early on to convey the key points;
– Use of imagery and visuals to communicate the subject matter;
– Reduce the number of facts and figures;
– Provide handouts that go into the details the thinkers want to see;
– Keep everyone’s attention by actively engaging the room;
– Manage the energy and respond to the audience.
How to improve communication within the business
Make time to highlight and understand how each other communicate, this can be as simple as asking each other in a group. Remember, there is no right or wrong here, we want to increase our ability to work as a business and through understanding these principles we can achieve that.
When we understand how we process information we can improve our decision making and avoid getting frustrated with each other. Before the thinkers were being pressurised by the knowers to make a decision; the knowers were frustrated and wanted to speed things up. When we appreciate the strengths we each have, we can give each other time and space to work things through.
We begin making far better decisions through creating a thought environment that enables us to understand each other and how we communicate.
The secret to successful communications and creatin unity in a team isn’t just understanding what styles are needed when and with whom, but creating a system that does that for you. For those of you wondering, this is what we do.
Are you interested in using learning more about improving communication within your business?