The 5 communication styles
We generally have a prevailing communication style. In normal day to day situations this communication style works for you, you feel comfortable with your interactions, and people are used to you and the way you communicate with them. No one style is right or wrong and each style provides a benefit to both you and the person you are communicating with. We can summarise the five communication styles as follows:
Go for it!
When you are convinced you are right, do you “Go For it”? Your confidence overpowers the other parties in a discussion or conflict, and you drive home your opinion as to the “right” or “best” approach. As a strategy, this competitive attitude is very effective when a decision or action needs to be taken urgently. It is how a doctor takes control of an emergency situation, or commands are issued in the army. It works because all parties recognise the power relationships within the group and know that action is imperative. However, it is a temporary answer to resolving a discussion or conflict. If you find you are often involved in the discussion, or that discussion often leads to conflict, it could be time to look at how you approach discussions. Are you really listening to what the other person is trying to say?
Is there anyone who has not taken the option to avoid a conflict situation in the workplace? I know I have done this. I also know people who do this all the time: “Run Away” from a problem that needs to be addressed. But when is it good to run away, and when should you stand your ground? Avoidance can create conflict or make a heated situation worse. But on the other hand avoidance can be of benefit to you if you are not part of the problem or part of the solution. Ask yourself what are you running away from? If the answer is that you are uncomfortable with your feelings around the conflict, take a moment to find out why. Are you fearful of the reaction if you dare to say something? Are you fearful of showing your own emotions in this conflict situation? Is your confidence low and you don’t think you will be heard if you do speak out? If these questions apply to you, then its time find out how to raise your confidence levels. On the other hand, if you feel the conflict is nothing to do with you, then good as it is not always your responsibility to “fix” every conflict that arises in your home or workplace.
The overconfident communicator can only be successful if there is someone who cooperates fully with them. Being cooperative is a very valuable skill, work tasks run smoothly and relationships are harmonious. When there is a threat of conflict, cooperation maintains good relationships, even if tempers become frayed.
Why the reality happens
However always saying “Yes Boss” won’t keep everyone happy all the time. Giving in to the demands of others leads to an unequal relationship. That confident go-getter will walk all over you and the only one who suffers is you. If you do not have the confidence to express your opinion, ask for what you want and negotiate practical solutions to problems affecting you, your feelings of frustration and resentment will generate your own internal conflict.
You have got more confidence than someone who is a yes man, and you are more cooperative than the go-getter, so trading is well within your comfort zone. You are reasonable, listen to the other person, and make concessions in order to reach an agreement. As a strategy, it works best when there is little time, and there are immediate benefits for both sides. But although it seems that trading is a solution to a conflict, do you sometimes have a sneaky resentment when you think about what you had to give up in order to reach an agreement? Where does this feeling come from? From the belief that the result is finite, you are negotiating for a “slice of cake” and you feel your opposite number wins a bigger slice than you do. It means you need to defend your position.
Win / win!
With “Let’s trade” we talked about lingering resentment when you concede too much within a negotiating situation. This dissatisfaction will be removed in a win/win situation. If two people remove the idea that there is a limit to the benefits of negotiation, and work on solving the issues rather than beating the other person, then they will make great progress. Start by creating a feeling of trust and cooperation and work towards finding satisfactory solutions for both parties while keeping goals and values intact. Now you know how to recognise these five communication styles it’s time to see where you sit on the graph and what you can do to help yourself before you get into a situation which leaves you dissatisfied with your part in the discussion.