Have you ever wondered why some employees seem to “get” you, but you feel disconnected from others? The coworkers who you connect with best probably share your communication style or have similar personalities. While it’s natural to gravitate towards people who understand you, as a leader you need to be able to effectively communicate with different personalities in the workplace.
In this article, we will share some tips for improving your relationships with your employees by tweaking your approach to communication. We will discuss how to recognize and communicate with different personalities to reduce misunderstandings and enhance productivity.
Why Personalities Matter At Work
Your organization depends on your ability to effectively manage people with different personalities and communication styles. While diversity strengthens your workplace, it can also make it more difficult to get everyone on the same page. Leaders need to take a proactive role in creating respectful, cooperative workplaces.
Taking the time to understand your employees’ differences is an important investment in your company’s culture. When you communicate in a way that works for your listeners, you enhance your working relationships and make your organization stronger. Research has found that having good rapport with management leads to higher employee engagement and increased productivity.
More effective communication reduces confusion and stress. Your team will get more done when you are able to understand each other the first time. By learning how to communicate with different personalities, you can build trust, improve employee retention and create a better work environment for everyone.
Respect Your Differences
When an employee thinks or behaves differently from you, it can be frustrating. You may be tempted to label that person as “difficult” or “uncooperative.” However, you should give your coworkers the benefit of a doubt when you have a miscommunication. Avoid applying negative labels to people who have different personalities or communication styles than you. While we all see things from our own perspectives, there is always another side to each interaction, which is key to remember when you communicate with different personalities.
Don’t assume that the listener understands your intent, and be cautious when you try to interpret theirs. Often, the message that the speaker thought they were sending and the message that the listener received are different. The only way to be sure about someone’s point of view or motivations is to ask them.
Encourage your employees to give you feedback, and ask questions when you disagree with someone or don’t understand their perspective. Everyone you work with brings different opinions, experiences and skills to the workplace. When properly managed, these differences are assets for your organization, not liabilities.
Understand The Major Communication Styles
If you search Google for different personality types, you will find many different, and sometimes interrelated, frameworks. Some organizational psychologists swear by the Big Five, while others prefer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or the combined approach of 16 Personalities. Each of these frameworks attempts to quantify and explain how individuals perceive the world around them and make decisions.
Someone’s personality impacts how they communicate with different personalities and the way they respond to communications from others. To explain these differences, psychologists have developed frameworks that describe different approaches to communication. The four basic communication styles categorize a person as passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive or assertive based on the way they typically interact with others.
While many of us can easily recognize the four major communication styles, their usefulness in a business context is limited. The framework contains inherent value judgments; a quick glance reveals that the ideal communication style is assertive. More significantly, these descriptors only reflect someone’s outward behavior. They don’t provide any clues to help you improve your communication with that person.
To more accurately gauge how to communicate with different personalities, consider how you would characterize each of your employees according to the DiSC framework. The DiSC tool evaluates how an individual responds in various situations to determine their communication style. It scores four primary variables – dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness – and then characterizes the individual’s primary interaction style based on which factor influences them the most.
Get To Know Your Employees
While there are many different personality frameworks, they largely focus on similar attributes. Consider having your team members complete a self-assessment and share their results at your next company-wide meeting. Even if someone hasn’t filled out a questionnaire, you can often observe basic traits such as introversion or extroversion from their behavior. Remember to keep your own personality and communication style in mind when evaluating others.
By identifying your employees’ personalities using the DiSC framework, you can tailor the way you communicate with different personalities in the workplace. If someone is action-oriented and focused on the big picture, they have a “dominant” communication style. Be direct and concise with these employees, and expect the same in return.
However, when you’re communicating with an “influencer,” you will want to take a more friendly approach. These are your most social and collaborative employees. Try to connect with these people in a more casual way, and put the details in writing to help them remember key deliverables.
“Steady” personalities are also focused on others but have a stronger desire for cooperation. In a group, the “steady” employees will be ones who value consistency and want everyone to get along. Be mindful that you will probably have to draw their opinions out. To ensure they feel heard, practice active listening by summarizing what they’ve told you in your own words.
Like “dominant” types, your “conscientious” employees are highly logical. These are the individuals who thrive on facts, figures and systems. Keep their need for details and organization in mind when communicating. When working with a “conscientious” person, give them as much information as possible and outline clear expectations.
Promote A Common Vision
Defining and communicating the core values for your organization can help unite your team behind a common purpose. While everyone brings their own unique background and personality to work, you all share some mutual goals such as producing an excellent product or providing a high quality service. Focus on your organization’s mission rather than small disagreements and personal differences.
You can’t change your employees’ personalities, but you can shift the way you engage with them. By working with their communication styles and not against them, you can create an environment where your team feels respected and heard. Leverage your employees’ differences as strengths, and watch your company flourish.
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