Why, why aren't they understanding?

What's Your Communication Style And Why You Need To Know  

I was chatting to a client the other day who couldn't figure out why his wife was so pissed off with him.  They had agreed to take it in turns to have a lay in on the weekend.  She would get up with the kids on Saturday, leaving him to sleep and he would reciprocate on the Sunday.  Or at least, that’s what was meant to happen.  

On Saturday the wife got up at 7am, taking the children downstairs.  All was well, the husband slept in till 10.30am and woke up feeling refreshed, relaxed and grateful to his wife for enabling the luxury of a rare lay in.  

Sunday arrived.  

He didn't get up.  The children woke up calling for their parents.  He didn't move.  At 7.30am she got up and took the children downstairs again.  When he got up she was cold and frosty.  

When I asked him why he thought she might be frustrated and annoyed he said “She didn't have to get up”?

The wife had made the assumption that my client would understand what her expectations were but she hadn’t communicated them.  

Anger and disappointment are often the result of unmet expectations

Unmet expectations happen because we aren't communicating effectively. Marital woes aside, communication is critical.  In all our relationships.  Both personal and professional.  Otherwise, you’re expecting the other person to be a mindreader. 

It’s also important to consider HOW we communicate.  Speaking and listening are not as simple as we think.  When was the last time you listened to someone, I mean really listened to them.  Without thinking about what you were going to say next.  Or without your mind wandering to your shopping list or what you are going to have for tea tonight.  Listening is a skill and so is communication.  

When communicating with others, it’s essential to think about;

  • Which information the other person needs 

  • The best way to communicate that information so the other person knows what your expectations are. 

There are four communication styles (also known as social styles). Knowing which one is your preference and which is the preference of those you are communicating with gives you a better chance of achieving your objectives.  It also gives you a better chance of  creating and maintaining a positive communication, even if the conversation is a challenging one.

The Four Social Styles;

  • Analytical Style These people control their emotions. They tend to ask questions rather than give orders. They are focused on accuracy, and act deliberately to achieve that end.

  • Amiable Style These guys show their emotions openly.  They also prefer to ask questions rather than give orders. Relationships, feelings and personal security are important to Amiable Style people.

  • Expressive Style They show their emotions and speak assertively. They enjoy sharing their ideas and perspectives openly with others.

  • Driving Style People with a driving style control their emotions and speak assertively. They prefer to control a situation and are focused on big-picture results.

While each of these communication styles is distinctive each of us use all these social styles daily in communication, often flexing between them without even realising. 

When you know your own social style preference, in my case Amiable,  you can consciously flex to adapt appropriately for those you are in conversation with.  This is a skill which you can use to navigate even the most challenging conversation! 

How to spot your social style preference;

Do you ask questions to find out more or do you give your view first then ask for theirs?  

Do you share emotion frequently in communication or do you prefer to keep your emotions out of a conversation?  

If you ask first and share emotion frequently your social style is Amiable but if you ask and rarely show emotion in communication then your social style preference is Analytical. 

If you tell and share emotion frequently your social style is Expressive but if you tell and rarely show emotion your social style is Driving

So now you know, but how do you use it? 

When you have identified your own social style see if you can identify the social style of the people in your life.  Can you spot the 'ASKs' from the 'TELLs'? There isn't one style better than the other, they are just different.  Much like different languages, it's helpful to understand each one to improve communication and understanding.  Each style enables us to tailor the information we need to impart and the manner in which we express so we can match it to the person we are communicating with. 

Understanding social styles is also a huge advantage when communication breaks down. Knowing how to flex your social styles can redirect a conversation heading towards breakdown or argument back to being positive. 

Increasing your self awareness and your awareness of those around you means you can quickly spot the social style of the other person in a conversation, flex your style and adapt to recover a conversation and move back to it being positive.

Are you having communication problems? Do you find it difficult to articulate your ideas or your needs? Do you struggle to have difficult conversations.  Would you like to improve all your relationships by improving your self awareness and your communication skills? 

Get in touch. I'd love to help!

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