Adapt Your Communication Style to Achieve Better Results


This photo is an oldie but goodie. A very blatant reminder of the differences in people was thrown in my face during my youngest son’s first year of life as I watched the two very distinct spirits of my boys emerge.  We don’t just see this with our children – we see it with our pets, siblings, friends, etc.

We are all so uniquely different, and thankfully so.

So what does this mean when it comes to how we should communicate with each other? It is very important to (1) learn the style of those you interact with, and then (2) adapt your communication style to best suit their needs. To be a truly effective communicator and achieve desired results, you need to tailor how you send and receive messages.

I’m sure you don’t communicate the same way with your meticulous best friend as you do with your careless little brother, or with your overbearing mother-in-law as you do with your socialite neighbor. I certainly learned very quickly that I cannot communicate the same with Jacob (the spit fire screaming in the picture) as I had always communicated with Ben (the “ham” on the right) and expect the same results.

So, why would we follow different rules when it comes to communicating with each other in the workplace?

How much effort do you put into your communications with colleagues at work? And no, I’m not just talking about the quantity of emails, phone calls, and meetings; but rather the quality of those communications – the strategic effort you put forth to make sure the style in which you send and receive messages appropriately matches that which is most conducive for your audience.

What do I mean by “communication style”?

I’m sure many of you have taken an assessment at some point in your career that has labeled you a Bear, Turtle, or maybe Owl. We all have a distinct style about us that affects our approach to tasks and relationships.

Let’s take me for example. I am a strong “S” in my DiSC workplace profile, which stand for Steadiness. This is very much in contrast with a “D” profile, which stands for Dominance. See the chart below contrasting the two.

“S” Profile

“D” Profile
















Getting immediate results

Taking action

Challenging self and others

I certainly collaborate with many D’s at work, and I very much value their unique strengths. In order to ensure my communications with D’s are effective, I tailor my approach to both sending and receiving messages during our exchanges.

When sending messages to D’s, I

  • get to the point – quickly!
  • tell them exactly what I’m thinking – they appreciate it.

When receiving messages from D’s, I

  • prepare myself to receive candid remarks, and remind myself not to take it to heart.
  • take note of the very specific actions or results they are hoping to achieve and offer timely support.

Your turn!

The above scenario is just one example of different personalities in the workplace and how they can most effectively communicate with each other. Now, it’s your turn.

  • Step 1: What style are you?

Take some time for self-discovery. There are several free assessments online that can be found by typing “communication styles inventory” into your search tool. You can also go the more formal route by using an assessment tool such as DiSC. This is a great route to choose if rolling this process out to a larger team. I would be happy to point you in the direction of practitioners who are certified to administer assessments such as this if you are interested.

  • Step 2: What style are those you interact with?

Jot down the names of 5-10 people who you communicate with on a regular basis. Take into consideration teammates, managers, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders.

Next to each one, identify what you perceive their communication style to be. If you’re not sure, just ask them. They’ll probably appreciate the gesture!

  • Step 3: What ways should you be adapting your communications with each of them?

Write down specific ways in which you can alter both how you send and receive messages during your exchanges with each one based on their styles.

  • Step 4: Practice, practice, practice! Effective communication takes work.

I would love to hear what strategies you come up with, so please share below!

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