In the Communication Styles Matrix, there are four basic styles of communicators: the Director, Expresser, Thinker, and Harmonizer. Typically, people are a combination of at least two communication styles—one “primary” style and one “backup” style. People who are primarily direct communicators tend to be those who are less emotionally expressive and highly assertive; they tell you what they think needs to be communicated and are more likely to tell someone what to do than ask for something to be done.
This is a strong communication skill set to have. However, because of their direct nature and communication techniques, direct communicators may feel uncomfortable around others, or may seem impersonal. Direct communicators may also end up butting heads with other styles of communicators.
Cost of Poor Internal Communication
Improving communication in the workplace is a must for organizations and businesses of any size. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cites data showing that “400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.”
As a direct communicator, what are some of the ways to improve your communication techniques or general business communication?
Work on Developing Your Communication “Soft Skills”
Interpersonal skills are crucial for professionals at any level for many reasons. These skills help you to better contribute to your organization’s productivity, create a positive work environment, and help to develop and foster working relationships with colleagues, employees, and clients.
There are eight essential interpersonal skills that every employee should learn to develop:
- Exercising self-awareness
- Being cognizant of nonverbal communication
- Being respectful of others
- Showing empathy and understanding
- Being a clear (but not abrupt) communicator
- Engaging in active listening
- Behaving appropriately
- Being receptive to feedback
Focus on Building Relationships with Colleagues, Employees
The increased efficiency that results from the ever-increasing use of technology in business communication comes at a cost to organizations. Big Think expert, journalist, and management expert Adam Bryant gives email as an example of one of the worst ways to communicate.
In his Big Think video “Lost in Translation: The Problem with Email,” Bryant says:
“The basic problem is that you can't read tone or body language in emails so things get lost in translation... You can get into these disagreements over email that can chew up an entire afternoon, whereas if you just walk down the hall to talk to somebody in person you could probably solve whatever problem there is in two minutes and actually build a relationship.”
These issues are particularly challenging for direct communicators whose use of language neglects the interpersonal approach of other communication styles. Instead, direct communicators should seek out more personal communication opportunities whenever possible in the form of face-to-face meetings and video chats.
Learn to Disagree Without Being Disagreeable
Big Think expert Kathleen Kelley Reardon, Professor Emerita of Management at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Law says that while conflict is inevitable in most relationships, it is crucial for professionals to know how to engage in it without causing damage.
Reardon devised a method for avoiding this communication pitfall, which is identified by the acronym PURRR:
- Pause. Take a moment before formulating judgment based on someone’s statement or actions.
- Understand. Ensure that you fully understand someone’s statement by seeking clarification rather than making an assumption.
- Reflect. Consider whether someone’s intention is to insult before jumping to conclusions or becoming hostile.
- Reinterpret. Reinterpret what someone says in a way that allows for a considered response in lieu of a knee-jerk response.
- Redirect. Redirect a conversation that gets off track onto a path that best serves your own or mutual goals.
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