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Understanding Communication Styles

Business Today

Communication. It is one of those concepts that sounds simple. But it’s not always easy to execute. Whether it is hurt feelings, a conflict that just won’t resolve, or just a nagging feeling we haven’t closed the loop of communication, we can all relate to those feelings. 

We all have a communication style we are most comfortable with. I first learned about this concept in college many years ago. It was through Gary Smalley’s assessment tool. Our results told us whether we were a Lion, Otter, Beaver, or Golden Retriever. These styles are built on the model of communication style measured by DISC (dominant, influencer, steady relator, and conscientious). 

My friend, Suzy, was upset that her top style was Golden Retriever. She wanted to be seen as a Lion! Well, the good news is we can all adapt our communication styles. To adjust to others, we need to understand our style and know what to look for and listen for in others to adapt to their style. The common thread among successful people is they are the most adept at adjusting to others and communicating effectively with them. How do we do this? I share an example below of starting the process. In the next three months, we will work through three other ways to adapt.

Some people truly value taking in life and savoring every moment. Their family, close friends, and the team at work are important to them. Gathering consensus is imperative before decisions are made. They don’t want to be rushed or decide on a quick timeline. They are the ones at the restaurant who don’t want to order first because they are still trying to decide what they want. And they don’t want to be pressed or put on the spot. If we identify that we’re talking with someone who has this quiet, steady communication style (also known as a Steady Relator) there are three things we want to be sure to do to make them feel comfortable with us:

1. Slow down and take your time communicating. Don’t come across as restless or frustrated with their pace.

2. Be supportive of them. Provide verbal assurance and let them make their own decision.

3. Plan ahead and give them enough time to decide. Don’t spring a decision at the last minute.

Why should we do this? We never get a response from someone who becomes withdrawn, resists action, and can be stubborn. Getting outside ourselves to adjust to others can take practice and patience but it works the outcome- a much clearer communication and better outcomes for all.

Kristine Sizemore-Kristine Sizemore 

[email protected]


Sizemore lives in Hoover, Ala. and is a Consultant, Coach, Trainer and Speaker focused on the subconscious psychology of Human Interaction and Motivation. Her firm specializes in Sales, Management and Leadership Development for Proactive Business Growth.

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