Someone was complaining to me recently about a stakeholder, and I was reminded of the phrase ‘the means of the communication is the response that you get’. In other words, if someone doesn’t understand what we’re saying, it’s often how we’re communicating it rather than the message itself.
When we communicate with others, we often do so in a way that works best for us. But the person we want to communicate something to may have different preferences. The key is understanding the differences that exist and adapting the way we communicate accordingly.
Here are just a few suggestions on the various preferences we have:
- Do they respond best to visual, aural or body signals? If visual, we will get a better response if we provide a picture or diagram than a 10-page report. We should pay attention to the words used, too. If aural, words such as ‘clarity’, ‘harmony’ and ‘tell’ will resonate with the person. If visual, words such as ‘vision’, ‘insight’ and ‘perspective’ will provide more clarity. If they are a kinaesthetic communicator, words such as ‘feel’, ‘balance’ and ‘hold’ will enable them to grasp what we’re saying.
- How are they motivated? It’s not going be very effective if we tell someone who’s motivated by achievement that what they are doing will help them bond with the team. They want to hear words like ‘success’, ‘results’ and ‘goals’. Affiliation-motivated people want to hear words like ‘harmony’, ‘support’ and ‘rapport’. Those motivated by power want to hear words like ‘control’, ‘impact’ and ‘influence’. This, of course, only works if they’re motivated towards these things. They might really be motivated away from failure, being alone or weakness.
Our preferences come across in all our communications, even in this blog. I wonder what preferences you think I have? And how could I have changed what I wrote to express the message more clearly to you?