Communication is key. Whether we communicate in writing – in letters or e-mails – or verbally, over the telephone or in person, what business owners and clients say and how we say it is important to understanding one another. Getting it completely wrong can have consequences ranging from simple misunderstandings to lost business.
While we all know how to talk, and business training teaches us what to say, what do we really learn about interpreting someone else’s communication style and what it says about their preferences in dealing with us?
In a recent Lunch & Learn, Jayne Huhtanen, a business coach with Focal Point Coaching of Toronto [http://ca.linkedin.com/in/jaynehuhtanen], addressed whether our communication style might be holding us back. Not speaking the same ‘language’ as our existing or potential customers, Jayne says, “can significantly limit your success”. To start with ourselves and recognise our own style, Jayne demonstrated the DISC profile created in the 1920s by psychologist William Marston.
The profile identifies four main communication styles: Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Conscientious. The first step is to recognise your style or that of the person you are communicating with. Then it helps to know what does and does not work when dealing with someone of that style.
- Dominant individuals are: decisive, competitive, direct, often demanding and impatient. When dealing with a D-style it is best to be brief and to the point, focused, and logical. Keep the conversation results oriented and on topic. Do not dominate the dialogue, get emotional or touch the person.
- Influential individuals are: sociable and talkative, impulsive, spontaneous, and emotional. When dealing with an I-style it is best to focus on the positive, show enthusiasm and smile a lot. Be warm and friendly, let him or her talk, and ask their opinion. Do not squash their enthusiasm, be negative, or focus on too much detail.
- Steady individuals are: calm and laid-back, amiable, patient, modest, and often indecisive. When dealing with an S-style it is best to build trust, and slow down to draw out his or her opinions. Do provide reassurance and enough time to make a decision. Do not press for an immediate answer, make sudden changes, or fail to deliver on promises you make.
- Conscientious individuals are: precise, logical, analytical, quiet, and disciplined. When dealing with a C-style it is best to present facts and data, use proven ideas, and stay on task. Do be patient, provide detailed information, and give enough time to think. Do not touch the person, be too chatty and talk about personal issues, or keep important information to yourself.
Recognising these different communication styles quickly is, of course, a challenge for anyone who is not a psychologist or otherwise trained. Nevertheless, when dealing regularly with your existing clients it will probably become quite evident which style pervades.
With some observation and a little practise you should be able to recognise which style your clients – and you! – fall under. It may help to understand that someone’s curt mannerisms are borne not out of malice but a habit they have less control over. Makes me think of the TV character Sheldon in ‘Big Bang Theory’!
Martina Rowley is the founder and operator of Beach Business Hub – THE co-working space east of the Don Valley. She combined her passion and experience in the environmental sector with her community engagement side to create a local work environment where space and resources are shared. She fosters and facilitates collaboration, networking, and learning for and with small business owners and new start-ups. Contact her at:http://www.beachbusinesshub.ca, on Facebook and on Twitter