The three Rs of supplier communication

Nicole Soames
posted by Nicole Soames
12 November 2014

Nicole Soames, CEO at Diadem ConsultingWe’ve all had relationships with suppliers when working together is like pulling teeth. One of the key ways to ensure you build a strong partnership with your suppliers is by understanding the powerful role communication styles play in building trust and respect.

So how can you make sure your communication style works for you? Let me take you through the three ‘R’s of communication.

1. Recognise different communication styles

Before you can respond to other people’s communication styles, you need to identify your own. DISC profiling can help you get a clearer understanding of your personality profile. The diagram below shows how DISC works. Everyone falls somewhere along the axes of outgoing to reserved and task orientated to people focused. DISC helps you work out where you fall on these lines and gives you a greater understanding of your personality type.

DISC profile

To help you fully understand how this translates into different communication styles, I always ask my clients to imagine they are in a lift with a group of people. D types will rush in, frantically hitting the close the doors button. I types won’t be able to resist making conversation with the other people. An S person will patiently holding the door open, saying there’s plenty of room for more. And Cs will be calculating the weight of everyone in the lift to make sure it doesn’t exceed the maximum capacity!

By recognising your own style (and usually you will be a blend), you’ll become more aware about how you will make decisions and how this impacts on your suppliers.

2. Respect other people’s styles of communication

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is number five of Steve Covey’s The seven habits of highly effective people. This is often easier said than done. In a meeting more often than not we’re so keen to get our own point across that we don’t take the time to understand the other person’s motivation and point of view. Having established your own communication style, it’s essential to recognise and respect those of your suppliers. Take the time to identify your key suppliers communication styles. You will be able to influence them far more convincingly if you respect the way they communicate.

3. Respond to different communication styles

One of the main benefits of understanding your own communication style is recognising how this affects your relationship with your suppliers. For example two D types could get on famously as they have a similar outlook or they could clash horribly as both can be direct or quite egotistical. This will clearly have a bearing on how your partnership will develop over the long term. Whereas if your supplier is an I type and values being popular and liked – they may never say no to your face which could affect future negotiations. The focus is therefore on trying flex your style to maintain fluid and open conversations.

Nicole Soames is CEO of commercial training and coaching company diadem

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