Categories: Virtual Experience Series
By: Nikki Evans
Technical Team and CTO Leadership Coach
Last week, I presented at the PMI Virtual Experience Series event held on 9 June 2022. This was a great event with featured speakers, exhibits and networking activities and amazing participants. My presentation, “Is This Thing On? How to Communicate So People Will Hear You,” focused on communication. Communication is such an important topic because Harvard Business estimates that up to 87% of business issues are related to miscommunication. Another study found that communication issues caused by errors of omission, misunderstanding, confusion, or non-communication cost organizations an average of $26,000/employee/year. That’s an expensive problem, so we need a way to break it down and look at it that can improve our chances of being understood.
We discussed different styles and how to identify and adapt to different communication preferences. I provided a simple framework to think about the pace of communication people prefer (Fast Paced or More Careful) as well as the focus that people use (Results or Relationships) when communicating. I provided a description of these styles and how to listen for and adjust to a style that is different from your own to improve the chances that your message is understood.
During my presentation, I received a lot of great questions that we didn’t get a chance to cover, and my responses are below.
Question 1: Can your communication style can change or evolve over time?
That is a great question. The way YOU prefer to be communicated with, or the way you like to get information, will remain stable over time. The way you communicate with others may change frequently as you intuitively figure out what others need from you and flex and adjust your style. You may be in an environment with norms and standards for communicating which require you to flex what is natural for you, so you adapt to fit the norms. Your preference for how you like to receive information likely won’t change and flex as much over time, although you may adjust some to get your needs met.
Question 2: Can you be a mix between two styles?
Yes, you can have a strong preference for two different styles. That will mean that how you prefer to get information could shift between your preferences depending on the situation or type of information you are getting. For example, you could be both Informational and Stability. If that is the case, you like to be able to do a detailed analysis of information and prefer to have facts available to you and you also like instructions and a sense of safety in your communications and want to maintain non-confrontational relationships with others. There may be times when relationship is more important to you and other times when getting a result is more important and you will flex between the styles accordingly. If you have an equal preference for all four styles, or similar preference for all four, you are an adapter and will flex between all the styles easily. In that case, it may be a little difficult to know what you need exactly in a communication. When in doubt for an adapter, assume Information or Stability.
Question 3: How do you progress when you have all these in one team? Is it important to have a mix of styles on a team?
Having all styles on one team can be great. You can definitely get different perspectives and be more equipped to handle questions from outside your team, because your team will have all the styles represented. To make sure everyone’s needs are met when you are working with all the styles, think about ordering your communication to start with summary and high-level key points for your faster paced people and then dig into the details for your more careful styles. You may need to come up with some team agreements about how different types of communication will be done. If you share with people that you are trying to meet their communication needs and you share the framework with them, people can generally tell you what they prefer and need. You can also always check for understanding by asking people what they took from your communication. It can certainly be an advantage to have many styles on a team but can also be the source of miscommunication if someone is always lacking the detail they need or getting overloaded with details that they don’t need. I find that asking people what is best for them and letting them know you are sincerely working to help them get what they need is always welcome.
I was thrilled to offer you a chance to complete your own communication style discovery. I noticed several of you started to take your discovery and have not yet completed it. If you got interrupted and want to go back to finish your discovery – go to www.dnabehavior.biz and re-enter the email and password you created when you started the discovery to continue and you will be able to finish the discovery.
I had a great time presenting, I was blown away by your participation and feedback, thank you so much for a wonderful experience. The full presentation will be on demand through 31 January 2023, and the presentation includes tips on communicating with each style and adjustments you can make to your own style to match another. Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2022 for more details.