Communication Orientation (Part Two)
Last week’s post began an exposition of how good communication builds morale, trust and energy with those around you. For the sake of review, let’s go over the fine points of addressing different communication styles:
Know that even though we may all be speaking English, there are differences in communication styles that can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes. Having a strategy to adapt our communication style to others’ style can provide a positive approach to avoid and defuse conflict.
In the 1970s a new paradigm for creating rapport via adaptation of communication style was created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. It was called Neuro-Linguistic Programming or NLP. This model has been revised and refined over time by some, including myself. I don’t call it NLP anymore because it sounds too much like brain surgery or psychological warfare. My term is “Primary Modalities of Language,” or PML.
There are three primary modalities by which we impart and receive communication…
Visual: via images, pictures, mental visions
Auditory: via sounds, voices
Kinesthetic: via physical sensations
And with each modality comes a specific vocabulary…
“I see,” “It looks like,” “It appears to be…”
“I hear you,” “It sounds like,” “It rings a bell…”
“I feel that”, “It touches on,” “It taps into…”
Let me be clear that we all have and use the three primary modalities. A mostly visual person will likely be in kinesthetic mode if they are grieving the loss of a loved one. The kinesthetic could be more in a visual mode while caught up in the excitement of seeing a spectacular meteor shower in the sky, accelerating their speech tempo. So in the case of intensely dramatic moments, you can tailor your communication responses to others accordingly. Granted, it takes much practice to become skillful at PML; but the rewards of closer connection with another makes the journey well worth it.
Like any discipline, honing communication skills can benefit from additional tools in your box. Another helpful model is a breakdown of the Four Major Personality Types:
The Dominator – assertive, decisive, task-oriented, goal-centered. Biggest fear: losing control. Dealing with them: Never attempt to usurp control from a Dominator! Present choices to them so they (at least think) the decisions are made by them.
The Analytic – more passive, less decisive, process-oriented, precise. Biggest fear: being inaccurate. Dealing with them: Be very logical, spell out goals, objectives, and deadlines on paper if necessary to motivate, convey urgency.
The Expressive – active mind, creative, process-oriented, flexible. Biggest fear: being ignored. Dealing with them: Give praise, acknowledge ideas and seek input from them for new ways to solve problems.
The Relator – more passive, less decisive, people/team-oriented, sensitive. Biggest fear: feeling rejected. Dealing with them: Express care and concern, convey their importance to the team, then re-focus them on the task at hand.
As with PML, you can see how being adaptable to the Four Personality Types requires different strategies to build rapport and achieve results. Listen actively and intently, and you will grasp these distinctions in personalities with greater clarity on your road to mastering communication.
More on the road to communication mastery next week!