You have a great idea or project but you need to get support from your boss or the engineering department. Many people think the way to do this is by honing their effective communication skills. Problem is they focus on the mechanics of giving a presentation or writing a good memo. While that is good knowledge to have, it’s like icing on the cake. If you don’t know how you’re perceived and how your peers, boss and co-workers prefer to communicate, no amount of sugar-coating is going to make you an effective influencer.
It’s all about relationship, self-awareness and living in someone else’s shoes.
If a client values results and decisiveness and you’re pitching them a product or service, you will want to show how you can help them solve a problem or achieve results. You don’t want to get mired in the details or “try to bond” talking about their family. If someone is process-oriented and working behind the scenes, you don’t want to be overly aggressive and push rapid change. They need comfort and security and above all, to avoid confrontation. Make them feel secure.
This might sound harsh but it’s how we operate. Call this EQ( emotional intelligence) but the smarter you are about knowing the different buckets of communication styles, the more you will be able to influence people very different from yourself. The best way to do that is to understand how you filter information and how other people do the same.
Probably the standard-bearer of effective communication skills is DiSC® which puts these behavioral traits into four buckets:
- Dominance: Direct, driver & decisive — D’s are strong-minded, aggressive, strong-willed people who enjoy challenges, taking action, and immediate results. They communicate directly and want results.
- Influence: Social, optimistic & outgoing — These are “people people” who prefer participating on teams, sharing ideas, entertaining and energizing others. They like to gain consensus.
- Steadiness: Stable, sympathetic & cooperative — They are helpful team players. They prefer being behind the scenes, working in consistent and predictable ways. They don’t like rapid change, and they don’t like conflict. They are often good listeners and good with processes.
- Conscientiousness: Concerned, cautious & correct — They usually plan ahead, constantly check for accuracy, and use systematic approaches. They can seem pessimistic but love lots of facts and details.
Maximum Advantage is an organizational development company that emphasizes using psychology to help people hone their effective communication skills. They call the different DiSC communication styles by different names which seems easier to understand:
- Dominance is a Controller,
- Influence is a Promoter,
- Steadiness is a Supporter and
- Conscientiousness is an Analyzer
Here’s how the very distinct four different types want to communicate. Which are you? Which is your boss or your teammate? (Caution, we can have a mixture of these but one trait will tend to dominate, especially when we’re under pressure):
Controller: wants direct communication . They want you to get straight to the point with solutions or results and don’t want a lot of details.
Supporter: doesn’t want confrontation. They don’t want to make big decisions fast so don’t push them. Earn their trust in small steps. Talk security and safety.
Promoter: loves to engage with people. Give yourself plenty of time to talk about their family and friends as well as yours.
Analyzer: loves facts and figures and they are very organized. Be prepared for skepticism so have plenty of facts and figures.