A favourite communication approach may not always work

How your preferences may affect what you choose to communicate.

What clouds communication
Conic Hill, Loch Lomond

Do you have a favourite way of communicating. Do you know when you need to vary your approach? How many others share your preferred mode? What makes you switch off or get bored?

Pay close attention to the next four sentences.

This is designed to make your life easier, more comfortable and to protect you and others.  It is based on over 100 years’ of detailed research, worldwide data and many observations and analyses.  The people who led this work were interested in increasing understanding between different people and enabling them to achieve their potential.  Numerous models and theories continue to be developed from the initial framework and research and that creates many new possibilities for the future.

One of these four sentences is very likely to appeal more to you than the other three.  40% may lean towards the first which focuses on people, 34% the second which addresses facts, a further 14% the third which focuses on values and principles and, 10% the last which focuses on theories and models.  This could suggest an underlying Type preference.  That could also suggest a great gift or strength as long as it’s not overdone. I’m personally drawn towards the last one focusing on theories, models and new possibilities.  It’s not that I reject the other three, it’s just this last one is more interesting and intriguing than the others. 

The practical implication of this for me is that I need to take care that I do not accidentally overlook the needs of those who have different interests and leanings when I’m communicating and especially with individuals or groups about whom I know little.  In my case this is 90% of other people. Although I may find theories and models gripping and fascinating this is not the case for 90% of people. I can choose to ignore that or accept that I must mix and match to get my message across to as many people as possible.  I must not get carried away by my natural and inbuilt inclinations.  On a good day, when I’m on my feet presenting or in a one-to-one conversation I monitor the results of what I’m saying closely.  When I suspect I’m losing someone I’ll consciously shift my style to a format that may be more comfortable and meaningful for her or him.  Keeping facts, impacts on people, and values in mind is a simple way for me to flex my communications.

The fly in the ointment here is the context.  Regardless of one’s communication preferences, the here-and-now-context potentially may lead you to focus and seek out a style that ordinarily would be less appealing.  Just reflect on what the majority of people are seeking during this current pandemic.  This neatly illustrates that although I’ve sourced some material on Psychological Type, we all can and indeed need to adapt to our current circumstances.

Perhaps it’s as simple as “variety is the spice of life” and “nature loves diversity”.  I’m sure we’ve all seen the consequences of a person becoming unwittingly stuck on just one communication channel.  So my message is: know your own inclinations and learn to bring variety to your communications so you successfully engage with more people more often.

Author: David Shaw

Personality Type Practitioner. Former lecturer and HR consultant.

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