Be A Champion Communicator
by Becoming a Chameleon
Recently, I worked with a client who was having a problem
with some of the women in her organization. The organization
had just undergone major changes, which resulted in different
reporting relationships for many of the women. The problem
was that the women were having trouble effectively communicating
with their new bosses.
Before the changes, the women were able to work with their
supervisors very successfully. They and their supervisors
shared similar communication styles, so they complemented
each other quite well. However, when the women were reassigned,
their communication styles differed dramatically from those
of their new supervisors. Instead of being able to get along
with their new bosses, they experienced a lot of conflict
every time they spoke to them.
What happened? Why were these women who were so successful
in dealing with one type of person having so much trouble
dealing with a different type of person? It is because the
communication styles no longer matched and when styles don't
match, problems are almost certain to develop. (One point
worth mentioning - while we are talking about women in this
situation, this problem occurs equally as often with men if
they mismatch the people with whom they are communicating).
Many of us make a critical mistake when we interact with others.
We believe that everyone perceives the world the same way
we do. This assumption can lead to strained relationships,
conflict, or worse. People are different and while we may
find a large number of people who are like us, we will find
an even greater number of people who are not like us.
People make unconscious decisions about whether or not they
feel comfortable with us. If our styles of communicating are
like theirs, we can usually develop rapport with them easily.
However, if our styles are very different from theirs, they
feel an unconsciousness sense of tension whenever we are around.
Tension between people usually does not lead to successful
To be champion communicators, we need to change our approach
to match the specific style of each individual we wish to
influence. This is a powerful way to get people to feel comfortable
with us; when people are comfortable with us, they are more
willing to be open to what we have to say. There are four
major communication styles. While everyone has some of each
style incorporated into his or her own unique personality,
each of us has a predominant style.
Amiables - Are very cooperative, they get along with
others, they are self-controlled, systematic, stable, patient,
perseverant, accommodating, and logical. They are motivated
by feeling secure, being part of a team, and feeling appreciated.
They dislike conflict, taking risks and change.
Analyticals - Are rational, detail oriented, organized,
unemotional, process-oriented, logical, and cautious. They
are motivated by being right, doing things themselves, and
being noticed for their accuracy. They dislike aggressiveness,
conflict, or being forced to make quick decisions.
Drivers - Are aggressive, impatient, and results oriented.
They are motivated by being in control, being number one,
having personal choices, fast actions, and change. They dislike
details, long drawn out conversations, and not being in charge.
Expressives - Are friendly, talkative, emotional, optimistic,
people oriented, and enthusiastic. They are motivated by being
liked, having fun, being noticed, and receiving approval.
They dislike conflict, details, and focusing only on the business
When you recognize someone's predominant style (especially
if it differs from your own), use that style when communicating
with him or her. Going back to our example with the women
who were reassigned, most of them used an amiable approach,
which is somewhat slow paced. However, most of their new supervisors
were drivers who wanted information quickly and succinctly.
After learning about different communication styles, the women
used a quicker, more results oriented approach with their
bosses and they were able to work together successfully.
A champion is someone who can be successful no matter what
the circumstances. By adopting a chameleon communication strategy,
you can change your style to match the person you are with
and then you can be a champion too.
Della Menechella is a speaker, author, and trainer
who helps organizations achieve greater success by improving
the performance of their people. She is a contributing author
to Thriving in the Midst of Change and the author of the videotape
The Twelve Commandments of Goal Setting. She can be reached
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