A few weeks ago I attended an Emotional Intelligence seminar. One of the most interesting segments of the day was on Communication Styles.
I have always struggled with the right way to say what I want to communicate. My “style” is that of a “Driver” and that means that I am often direct, decisive and dominant. And it doesn’t always work for me, because over the years I have discovered that some folks can’t handle my direct style. They feel attacked when I speak bluntly.
I don’t mean to “attack” them. I just want to plainly say what I think about a certain situation (and why shouldn’t I be able to just say it?). Well, it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear. There is a book based on this premise called “Words that Work.”
Anyhow, the E.I. facilitator spent a fair amount of time focusing on two types of communicators: Task-oriented and People-oriented.
If you know me, you’ll know I am definitely the former. Under “Task-oriented” the two communication styles identified are that of the “Analyzer” and the “Driver.” With a fun title like “PowerPlant,” I’m sure you know which style I identify with.
Characteristics of a “Driver” are not something I am all that proud of. (I guess we all have a special place in the Universe.) Drivers tend to be fast-paced, have strong viewpoints and are ambitious. We like control, are goal-oriented and independent. The facilitator described us as “the most terrifying person to deal with when stressed out.”
I’m sure many of my co-workers would completely agree with this statement—especially those who have been around awhile. My temper and strong will often “took over” my better judgment in the early days. I have tried to tailor my approach to the person I am dealing with over the past few years.
Which brings me to the other “Task-oriented” styles explored:
“The Analyzer”: As you can imagine, they like data. We have a new employee who’s fun title is “SpreadSheetz” because of how much data she mines. These folks are perfectionists. They are careful, compliant and often introverted. And when they get angry, they become passive and shut down.
There are two breeds of “People-oriented” communicators: “Relater” & “Expresser.”
“The Relater”: likes positive attention (who doesn’t?). Being accepted and in a predictable environment are also important to them. Their primary concern is for other people’s feelings. And they make good networkers.
“The Expresser”: is the Socializer. They get excited easily, are very magnetic and enthusiastic. (I think we have quite a few people in our company like this.) They are known multi-taskers and have a great command of language. They get bored easily so they often change things up. They like status, acknowledgment and being appreciated…although an extreme variation of the “Expresser” could be referred to as a “drama queen.”
Being a “Driver” isn’t all bad—I get a lot done! Yes, checking things off my daily list gives me a sense of accomplishment. But I know I need to laugh more. And enjoy socializing. Good Emotional Intelligence means you see yourself pretty evenly throughout all four communication styles.
Clearly, I have some more work do to!