Lots of misunderstanding happens because the ones involved in a discussion did not get what the other meant, or didn't mean.
Understanding all about communication styles and personality types can help teammates avoid misunderstandings, especially while working remotely, and make them better communicators.
Leaders must know what type of communicators they have on their teams and how to manage and deal with each of them, in order to foster a healthy working environment that encourages productivity and collaboration.
What type of communicator are you, what personality type best describes yours, how a leader can manage the 5 communication styles in workplace, tips to be an assertive speaker, and more to be unraveled in this article.
What are communication styles?
By communication styles we mean the various ways we use to express our thoughts, feelings, and opinions, be these verbal or non-verbal ways.
Verbal communication styles are speech and tone of voice. Non-verbal communication styles refer to body language and facial expressions.
Leaders and managers should know all about the different communication styles to be able to handle different communicators in their teams — a skill that's considered a basic for leadership.
Importance of communication styles in leadership
A team leader needs to understand how the individuals in the team prefer to communicate. This will help him/her improve their communication habits and foster a healthy work environment that benefits everyone.
Not that I mean it's harder, but leaders of remote teams struggle a bit more when it comes to remote communications among the team that he/she must understand how the each member in the team prefers to communicate.
Importance of communication styles for remote teams
In a physical workplace, communication happens naturally; we run into each other all the time and chit-chat in the lunchroom. This is not the case with remote teams, where communications need to be intentional; or else, they won't happen.
Then, in order for your team to engage remotely with each other, build trust, and get to know one another, they need to understand each others’ communication styles and preferences.
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What are the 5 types of communication styles?
Verbal and written communication styles are divided into 5 main types:
- Passive communication
- Aggressive communication
- Submissive communication
- Manipulative communication
- Assertive communication
People in the workplace normally use all five communication styles at one time or another; yet, one style is said to be the most effective communication style to be used. Let's dive deep into the 5 styles to reach a solid conclusion about the preferred style of communication at the workplace.
1. Passive communication style
A passive communicator is someone who usually agrees to whatever others want or say. You might think it's nice; it isn't. Passive communicators keep their opinions to themselves most of the time, even when they have something to say.
How to spot a passive communicator?
During a conversation, a passive communicator will avoid eye contact, shrug if asked about their opinion, and try to look indifferent about the topic being discussed.
How effective is passive communication?
Passive communication is not considered to be very effective in the workplace. Ideas are best developed when all input is shared out loud. If a couple of people spoke up and the rest simply agree, it would put a low ceiling to the creativity of the discussion.
In addition, this attitude, over time, leads to an aggressive style in communication.
How can a leader manage passive communicators?
In the workplace, and especially during group communications and team meetings, managers and leaders should be able to detect passive communicators and encourage them by name to actively participate in the conversation.
Good leaders reassure their team members that their voice is heard to avoid them feeling frustrated and, eventually, resorting to aggressive communication to stand up for themselves.
2. Aggressive communication style
Aggressive communication can be seen as the opposite of the passive style. An aggressive communicator won't think twice before openly expressing their opinions, oftentimes without even considering the rights of others.
How to spot an aggressive communicator?
In a group discussion, aggressive communicators will express themselves in a loud, hostile voice. They tend to be controlling and dominant over their teammates, always interrupting others. All they care about is winning, even if it is on the other person’s expense.
How effective is aggressive communication?
Apparently, not so much.
The aggressive communication style limits conversations in the workplace. An honest and fair conversation is supposed to be about talking and listening from every individual involved.
Since aggressive communicators believe that their needs are more important and that they have more rights than other people, it stirs negative feelings in the workplace and reflects injustice among teammates.
How can a leader manage aggressive communicators?
A good leader spots aggressive communicators within the team and understands their demanding attitude. As a manager, you should stop them if they're being disrespectful to their peers or trying to dominate the discussion to their favor. Say something like "Well, let's wait till [Name] finishes."
Notice if they're invading their colleagues' spaces and step in if needed. Always communicate that "We are all equal and all our needs weigh the same."
3. Submissive communication style
The submissive style is a way of communication that demonstrates lack of respect for one’s own needs and rights. Submissive communicators would avoid conflicts that arise from speaking up or expressing their own needs or opinions. They usually tend to please others and yield to preferences of their teammates.
How to spot a submissive communicator?
During a conversation, a submissive communicator would behave as if other peoples’ needs are more important. They say things that show that they believe that others have more rights to contribute and have more intelligent opinions. They would apologize more often than others, avoid confrontation, and opt out from conversations. They wouldn't take decisions or own responsibility of big actions.
How effective is submissive communication?
The submissive style of communication is not the best for a healthy workplace. It is ineffective because it treats some as insignificant, which is not fair. A submissive communicator refuses to try and learn new things, which means they won't grow on a personal side or improve on the professional one.
How can a leader manage submissive communicators?
Encourage the submissive communicators in your team to contribute with their unique ideas. Always repeat in front of the team that everyone's input is important and that all ideas are brilliant ideas.
4. Manipulative communication style
The manipulative style depends on a communication skill that always tries to gain a personal advantage in any given situation.
How to spot a manipulative communicator?
You'll notice that a manipulative communicator always tries to influence others to their own advantage. They use deception and cunning to influence the outcomes of a discussion or a meeting, for instance. In addition, they won’t often say what they really mean or how they really feel.
How effective is manipulative communication?
The manipulative style is not a healthy communication way for the workplace, because it prevents cross-functional collaboration and effective teamwork. Manipulative communicators are not trusted by their team and trying to understand their true motive is exhausting.
How can a leader manage manipulative communicators?
As a leader, you should be aware of the manipulative communicators in your team and make it known for them that you're aware of their intentions. Always try to do the best for the whole team, regardless of individual opinions or needs that might be hidden.
5. Assertive communication style
Assertive communication means to state one's thoughts, feelings, and needs in a direct and honest way, respecting everyone else and considering other peoples’ opinions and feelings.
How to spot an assertive communicator?
Assertive communicators express their opinions in a respectful way. They are good listeners and take responsibility to solve problems. An assertive communicator would stand up for their beliefs without violating the rights of others. They have a calm voice and a non-threatening eye contact.
How can a leader deal with assertive communicators?
Encourage assertive communicators in your team to share their ideas. If you're looking to promote a team member into a leadership position, they would fit perfectly. You can even seek their help dealing with other, less effective, communication styles.
How effective is assertive communication?
The assertive communication style is believed to be the most effective way of communication in the workplace. It fosters a respectful, safe, and amiable environment for everyone to produce and create.
Because it is a transparent way of communication, the assertive style allows employees to build stronger relationships at work and continuously grow and improve.
Unfortunately, psychologists believe that the assertive style is the least used style of communication. So, how could you develop this amiable skill?
How to be an assertive communicator?
Psychologists have been studying communication styles and communicators for a long time, and they have come up with recommendations for people who want to practice the most effective way of communication, the assertive.
- Be a good listener and exercise emotional intelligence.
- Be open to feedback on your strengths and criticism about areas for improvement.
- Respect other people's points of view and encourage them to share their ideas.
- Achieve your goals without hurting others.
- Make your own choices and take responsibility for them.
- Express your opinion in a calm, non-threatening tone of voice.
- Have confidence in yourself to communicate directly without playing games or employ manipulation.
- Do not interrupt your teammates, especially those who don't talk much.
- Do not allow others to push you beyond your limits just because they need something from you.
Do people ALWAYS achieve results by being assertive?
According to DS Psychology Group, one won't always get what they want by being assertive, but they will be able to achieve a compromise. They say, "You may not get what you want, but at least you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you handled the situation in the best way possible. There will be also no negative feelings between you and the other people in the discussion."
While these 5 communication styles are more towards what's effective and what's not for people to use in the workplace, people themselves have different personality types that control how they prefer to communicate with others.
DISC personality types in the workplace
To dig even deeper and understand communication styles better, it's best to explore the four personality types: dominant, influencer, steady, and conscientious.
Passive, aggressive, manipulative, submissive, and assertive are all about a person’s outbound communication. On the other hand, the four personality types show what works best for this person when it comes to inbound communication.
It’s important to understand a person's broader personal style so that you can communicate effectively with them. Knowing the behavioral traits of your team helps you to communicate in a way that strengthens the relationship between you.
The dominant personal style is that of managers and people who are focused on results rather than implementation of details.
When communicating with a dominant-type person, make your point quickly, stay on topic, and expect them to be decisive.
With dominants, avoid failing on your promises or taking their obvious traits personally (like being blunt or impatient).
The influencer personal style is that of friendly, collaborative people. Influencers love interpersonal relationships and have short-term focus span.
When communicating with an influencer-type person, show your sense of humor, make sure to give them written details of a task, and expect them to be optimistic about ideas and people (far too optimistic at times).
The steady personal style is that of loyal, stable people. Steadies are cooperative and can adapt well in different situations.
When communicating with a steady-type person, listen attentively, acknowledge their contributions, and expect them to ask for more details.
With steadies, avoid rushing them into making a decision and don't expect they'll make assumptions based on intuitions.
The conscientious personal style is that of competent, precise people. Conscientious people tend to analyze things and build new skills.
When communicating with a conscientious-type person, be organized, provide as many details as you can, use words like "I know" and "I think," and give them space to work individually.
With conscientious people, avoid direct criticism and over-use of emotional words.
This Atlassian article elaborates more on these 4 communication styles and how to navigate them in the workplace — definitely worth reading.
To sum up, psychology plays an important role in building productive teams and fostering healthy working environments that people love being in. Furthermore, it's always a good idea to understand yourself first, which then enables you to understand others' behavior and deal with it in an effective way.
In this article, we have explored the 5 communication styles and how to manage them in the workplace. We have also glanced at the 4 personality types and their preferred ways of communication. How to spot different types of communicators and tips to be an assertive communicator have also been discussed.
It's time now you share this with your team and start understanding the way you communicate a little bit in depth.