Communication Styles Quiz And Research

Which Of These Different Communication Styles Do You Use?

Communication styles define the ways we give and receive information. But do you understand your communication style? And how people respond to you?

Research identifies four communication styles based on levels of emotion and linearity in how we give and get information: Analytical, Functional, Intuitive and Personal. But you need to know your own, and others', communication styles to become an effective communicator.

COMMUNICATION STYLES QUIZ

What's your communication style? Do you like communicating with lots of data or do you prefer to focus on feelings? Assertive communication or more passive communication? Do you like conversation that goes step-by-step or would you rather jump right to the end point? Take the Communication Styles Quiz now!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

It's time to really understand your preferred communication style and to learn how to flex outside of it to effectively reach audiences of all communication styles. We're going to dig deep into communication styles, but feel free to jump to any section that interests you:

Understanding The 4 Communication Styles

No one style of communication is inherently better than another. But picking the wrong type of communication for a particular conversation or audience, whether it's one person or a thousand, can negatively impact how your ideas and messages are received. Building communication flexibility allows you to choose a different style to customize your message to the preferred communication style(s) of your audience and ensures that your message is heard.

Now that you have your communication styles assessment results and you know your preferred style, let's dig deeper into each of the four communication styles: Analytical, Functional, Intuitive and Personal.

Here's a quick overview of the four communication styles: 

  • Intuitive communicators are unemotional and freeform. They want bottom-line communications that are short and to the point and that don't waste their time.
  • Analytical communicators are unemotional but linear. They want confident communications that convey expertise including hard facts and numbers.
  • Functional communicators are emotional and linear. They like to have control of the process, so give them process-oriented and linear communications that start at A, and then flow from B to C and all the way to Z.
  • Personal communicators are emotional and freeform. They want to establish an interpersonal relationship, so use emotional language in an informal, friendly and warm way that gets them involved in talking about factors including who else will be involved and how what you're asking them to do will impact their feelings.

Remember that no one communication style is inherently better than another. The key to effective communication is using the verbal communication style that best ensures your message will be heard.

One major philosophical difference that separates the four communication styles is the extent to which you communicate with emotions or with data. For example, would you say something like "I feel like we're off to a good start this quarter" (emotions), or would you say "this quarter, sales are up by 7.2%"(data).

Another major philosophical difference is the extent to which you communicate in a linear way (e.g. you like to start with A then B then C then D going all the way to Z) or in a freeform way (e.g. you like to skip over most of the details and jump right to Z).

Of course, there's a lot more to the four communication styles than just these two philosophical differences. But as a starting point, these are emblematic of the myriad ways that we like to communicate.Now let's take a deeper dive... 

The Analytical Communicator

As an Analytical communicator, you like communicating with hard data, real numbers, and you tend to be suspicious of people who aren't in command of the facts and data. You typically like very specific language and dislike vague language. For example, when someone tells you that "sales are positive" you're likely to think "What the heck does positive mean? Is it 5.2% or 8.9%? Give me a number!" People who naturally prefer an Analytical communication style often have little patience for communication that includes lots of feeling and emotional words. 

One big plus of having an Analytical communication style is that because you like communication to be fairly unemotional, you're often able to look at issues logically and dispassionately. This means others tend to see you as having high levels of data and informational expertise and they'll often consider you a deep thinker.

The potential downside of having an Analytical communication style is that you may strike certain people as unfeeling or that you possess an aggressive communication style. For example, when interacting with people like Personal communicators (who tend to like warm and chatty personal relationships), it's possible for Analytical communicators to get irritated and terse or even become an aggressive communicator (because they’re not getting data or hard numbers, etc.). This sometimes has negative political and relational consequences. 

The Intuitive Communicator

As an Intuitive communicator, you like the big picture, you avoid getting bogged down in details, and you cut right to the chase. You don't need to hear things in perfect linear order but prefer instead a broad overview that lets you easily skip right to the end point. For example, some people, like Functional communicators, will tell you things step-by-step (they start with A, then go to B, then C, then D, then E, etc.). But this can drive you nuts; you'd rather jump right to Z.

One big plus of having an Intuitive communication style is that your communication is quick and to the point. You don't get stalled by needing too many details, and you're comfortable with big ideas and out-of-the-box thinking. Because you're good with thinking big, you can also enjoy challenging convention.

The potential downside of having an Intuitive communication style is that you may not always have enough patience when you're in a situation that actually requires getting into nitty-gritty detail (and you may risk missing an important point). Typically, Intuitive communicators have the most difficulty dealing with Functional communicators (those are the 'process-driven' people, they're very methodical, walk through things step-by-step, and like nitty-gritty detail). Some people will view the Intuitive as having an assertive communication style, and depending on the corporate culture, that may be seen positively or negatively.  

The Functional Communicator

As a Functional communicator, you like process, detail, timelines and well-thought-out plans. You like communicating in a step-by-step fashion so nothing gets missed. By contrast, there are some people, like the Intuitive communicators, who like to skip all the detail and just jump right to the end. But this can drive you nuts; especially when you think about all the important bits of information the Intuitive person is potentially missing.

One big plus of having a Functional communication style is that your communication generally hits all the details and nothing gets missed. When you're on a team, people will often turn to you to be the implementer, because they have confidence in your love of process and detail. And because you're focused on things like process and detail, you're the person who is typically asked to play devil's advocate.

The potential downside of having a Functional communication style is that you may risk losing the attention of your audience, especially when you're talking to Intuitive communicators (those are the 'big picture' people who skip to the end and don't get bogged down in too much detail). 

The Personal Communicator

As a Personal communicator, you value emotional language and connection, and you use that as your mode of discovering what others are really thinking. You find value in assessing not just how people think, but how they feel. You tend to be a good listener and diplomat, you can smooth over conflicts, and you're typically concerned with the health of your numerous relationships. If there's any communicator who's likely to ask about someone's personal life, it's the Personal communicator.

One big plus of having a Personal communication style is that your communication allows you to build deep personal relationships with others. People will often turn to you as the 'glue' that holds groups together. And you're typically able to pick-up 'vibes' or indirect communication that others may miss because you're attuned to the emotional intelligence aspect of communication.

The potential downside of having a Personal communication style is that you may occasionally be derided as 'touchy-feely.' For example, when dealing with Analytical communicators (people who like data, hard numbers, logical discussions, and dislike that 'warm-and-fuzzy' stuff), it's possible for Personal communicators to become exasperated and emotionally upset. Someone with a more assertive style might deride the Personal communicator as having a submissive communication style or even a passive communication style. But that's incorrect; the Personal style is simply more attuned to emotions.  

Communication Styles Grouped By Function

It's a truism that different professions attract different types of personalities, whether on the frontlines or in leadership. And so too we should expect that different professions will appeal to different communication styles. As you can see in the chart below, drawing from the 500,000+ that have taken the communication styles quiz, there are significant different across major professional groups.

It's probably not surprising that IT, Finance and Operations have far higher rates of Analytical and Intuitive communicators while HR, Marketing and Sales have many more Personal communicators. The real question is how to leverage this insight to increase our communication skill.

For example, if you’re speaking with a group of finance leaders, you may want to prioritize an Analytical communication style. But if that audience consists of HR or Marketing leaders, then you might prioritize a Personal style.

Tailoring your message to suit your audience does not make you a manipulative communicator. In fact, it makes you deeply empathic and high in emotional intelligence. If you were a passive aggressive communicator, you wouldn't change your style to fit your audience. Instead, you'd use your preferred style, and then when the audience reacted poorly, you'd blame them for "not understanding you." But that's NOT what you're doing. You're making an effort to reframe your message to increase the likelihood that other people understand you. And that's a deeply caring and smart gesture. 

How To Identify Everyone's Communication Styles

The first key to understanding others' preferred style and whether they have a different communication style than you is active listening. You'll be listening to their language while also attending to their nonverbal communication, including their body language and facial expression.

Imagine you're having a conversation with a boss or colleague. Start by asking them, "what information could I share that would make this a great use of your time?" Each different type of communicator will answer that question differently. And you need that information to pinpoint each different style. 

An Intuitive communicator might say, "What's the bottom line?," or "Can you give me the short version of this?," or, if they're feeling a bit more patient, "Can we throw some ideas around?" The Intuitive person is an assertive communicator, but it's not done with ill intent. They have a more aggressive style simply because they're less patient and tolerant of long-winded communication.

An Analytical communicator will likely ask you questions about numbers or data like, "Where's your data from?," or "Are we sure that's correct?," or "How do we know?" Like the Intuitive communicator, they might strike some as an aggressive communicator; but it's merely a different communication style. It's not intentionally aggressive communication, it's just a quest for hard data rather than feelings.

A Functional communicator might ask, "What's the process?," "What happens first?," or "Who does what?"

A Personal communicator will use far more feeling words, and might ask, "Who will be involved? " or "How do they/you feel?" As noted previously, these are not the questions of a passive communicator, rather they're the interests of someone more focused on emotional intelligence than data.

If for some reason you weren't able to start your conversation by asking "what can I share with you?," you can simply watch the other person's body language. If you start to see eye rolls, boredom, crossing arms, finger tapping etc., those are good signs that of the 4 communication styles, you chose the wrong one. So in that case, choose the opposite style, alter your language, and get your conversation back on track.

Having great communication skill requires interacting and speaking all 4 communication styles. And every leadership team and corporate culture will have a different dominant style. So you’ll want to assess your audience, whether one person or a group, to determine which of the 4 styles of communication you’re dealing with. Depending on which of the different communication styles you’re dealing with, your conversation or presentation will require very different approaches.

It should also be noted that it’s common for leadership communication styles to significantly influence the styles of frontline employees. After all, leaders will often set the tone and culture for their workplace, and that includes the ways in which people communicate.

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