Understanding your personal communication style – why it is important
Understanding your personal communication style will help you communicate more effectively, be heard and listened to.
Whenever I ask leaders in organisations what they find most difficult about leading an organisation and leading people, it often comes down to “communication”. This is why I would like to share my thoughts on the importance of being aware of one’s communication style.
Communication is a very broad concept. It covers clarity of objectives, clarity of strategy, transparency, engaging and influencing people, convincing others, negotiating, voicing opinions etc. In short it’s about sending and receiving information in whatever possible way.
One of the big challenges for leaders is to communicate a message in such a way that it is received in the same way that it was intended.
What can leaders do to enhance their communication skills ?
The first step is to understand our personal communication style.
This doesn’t necessarily mean it is our natural style. It might be an adapted communication style, a style that has been acquired over years as a result of various experiences. What I really mean by understanding one’s personal communication style, is to understand the communication style which you apply without thinking about it, at work for example.
And the reason why I say ‘at work’ is because your communication style might be different in your private life.
What’s the point of understanding your communication style ?
First you need to understand yourself, be self-aware, before you can consciously put in effort to change your communication style to fit the listener’s style and needs. When conveying a message you need to deliver it in the way the receiver will understand and appreciate, so you need to be able to adapt yourself to the receiver to make sure your message lands.
What’s in it for you ?
The huge benefit of being heard and listened to, therefore ensuring you make an impact.
To give a very extreme example : Imagine explaining to a toddler why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west in an immensely technical way. Will your message be understood ?
Imagine explaining to your staff what next year’s objectives are in the same way you would talk to a toddler ? They would have fun for sure, but they might also wonder whether you had anything special to eat or drink.
It’s really simple but not easy. All you need to do is adjust the way you communicate to fit people’s interests and working styles in order to be heard and understood.
How is a personal communication style shaped ?
- What we find normal is how we learnt to communicate in our early years, in the family and the culture we grew up in. If talking loudly was the norm, we are likely to find it normal to speak loudly as an adult. Perhaps there was no space for emotional expressions or too much space. Successes may have been celebrated or simply taken for granted. Maybe the communication was implicit and you needed to read between the lines. In some communication (family) cultures there is -too much- room for conflict or it is avoided at all times.
- Our style is also influenced by our education, the school we went to, the friends we played with….
- When we start working in a first job we are influenced by the communication culture of our first employer or in case we are self-employed by the culture of the business we work in.
- In short our communication style is very much influenced by external factors and becomes internalised as our personal communication style.
What we consider obvious in communication is not necessarily what others perceive as normal.
And that is exactly why communication is so complex. We all have different styles and when we talk it is necessary to adjust our styles to each other.
“Leading other people is to win the hearts and minds of people to achieve a common goal” is the definition of leadership at the Leadership Trust. Communication plays a big part in this process.
In order to do this it is important we understand ourselves better in order to be flexible in our communication style.
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Interested in learning about your communication style ? On 13th December there is a full day course “Communicate with Impact” (in Dutch) + an individual coaching.
If you like to have more information about bespoke experiential workshops – in-company and in other languages – on understanding communication styles, you can find more info and contact me here.
Individual work on your communication style is possible through coaching.