How Flexible is Your Communication?

Something that continues to amaze me is the myriad different ways that people ‘tick’. I am constantly surprised by the things that people say and do, the things that are important to them, the things that upset them and the things that bring them joy.

We are all different, fortunately. I can’t imagine that I would enjoy a world without the variety that people bring. It’s a blessing – and a curse. The challenge we face is to develop the high-level flexible communication skills that enable us to work effectively with those who ‘tick’ in significantly different ways from us.

In this blog I’d like to look at flexible communication in more detail.

Difference is the Only Thing that We All Have in Common

There are a number of ways to look at how people ‘tick’. The study of personality types took a leap forward when Carl Jung published the results of his studies in the 1920s. Most of today’s models and tools have their roots in Jung’s work. Some people are more extroverted by nature, getting their energy from others, whilst others are more introverted, quietly processing information within. Not right or wrong, just different.

Some people are more analytical by nature, focusing on facts and truth, whilst others are more in tune with their gut feel and ‘sixth sense’. Not right or wrong, just different.

I’m old enough to remember when music systems had Graphic Equalisers, giving the illusion, at least, of altering the sound by making small adjustments. We need to make those small adjustments for every communication that we have with people, whether written or verbal and whoever we are communicating with – family, team members, colleagues and even the boss.


Take Your Shoes Off

The ability to empathise with others is invariably on any list of essential communication skills, with empathy defined as the ability to step into others’ shoes. American pollster Frank Luntz sums it when he writes “The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener’s shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling.”  Stepping into someone’s shoes is so much easier if you have taken your own shoes off first.

Taking your own shoes off so that you fully understand how you ‘tick’ and what works for you is a vital first step in enabling you to step into the shoes of others. The clearer and more accurate your view of yourself, the easier it is to make the best adjustments. So what are your personal preferences? Remember, there is no right or wrong, just different. Start by placing yourself on the following scales:

Introversion   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Extroversion

Thinking                                                        Feeling

Short term                                                    Long term

Plans & schedules                                       Keeping things open

Open                                                             Reserved

Developing a level of personal awareness is your starting point. Without this understanding, you won’t be able to take the next step, which is to then fine tune your communication to meet the needs of those who ‘tick’ differently. For example, you might be quite extroverted – you’re talkative, outwardly focused and action oriented. If you try to communicate with an introvert – someone who is quiet, observant and reflective – in your own chatty, energetic way, you’ll struggle to get your message across to someone who needs time to think about what you’re saying to them.

To do this, you need to consider the key skills of flexible communication – keep reading to find out what these are and how to apply them.

I rub workshops on flexible communication for some of my clients. The sessions are always very interactive and totally bespoke to the needs of your company and your people. To find out how I can help you and your teams to bring more effective communications to your business, call me on 01483 303 593 or click here to email me.

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