By matching speakers’ preferred communication styles, you can build both rapport and alliances with a range of people. Here are four communication styles and how you can relate to them:
Paraphrasers focus on literal meaning. If you make a cynical joke or test their gullibility, they’ll probably misunderstand you. They accept what they hear at face value and seek to absorb it in a clean, orderly way. They’ll respond to you with phrases, such as “Let me make sure I understand you. . .” or, “Just to review. . . .”
Manage paraphrasers by thinking in logical sequence. Avoid vague or ambiguous comments. Don’t try hinting at what you want—come right out and say it.
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Thematizers favor concepts over hard facts. They’re guided by general themes such as overtaking a mighty competitor or employing outside-the-box thinking to spur innovations. You can spot a thematizer by her eagerness to discuss lofty ideas rather than nitty-gritty details.
Win over these communicators by reinforcing the value of their favorite theme. Then talk in terms of drafting a “road map” or “recipe” to achieve the larger goal they’ve embraced.
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Storytellers use anecdotes and parables to draw life lessons. Abraham Lincoln was a master storyteller; like many wise, diplomatic leaders, he relied on parables to defuse conflict and convince bickering parties to work together.
To bond with a storyteller, sit still and listen. Don’t feel obliged to respond with your own anecdote to top what you’ve just heard. And don’t interrupt the speaker— wait until he concludes and summarizes the “moral of the story.”
Problem-solvers love quizzes and trivia contests. They enjoy brain-teasers and spend their lunch hour completing crossword puzzles. They pose difficult questions (Why does that work that way? What’s causing that reaction?) and then dig for answers.
Appeal to them by framing assignments as challenges. Emphasize the need to seek solutions, fix what’s broken or solve a riddle.
Use a simple self-test to assess your personal communication style. Breakthrough Communication