Communication style conflicts can have a powerful effect on the activities within a corporation. When we communicate, we are either building or breaking down relationships with individuals who are part of our working teams.
In the business environment, management problems are more frequently interpersonal problems than anything else. If we can become more sensitive to the qualities that make up different styles of communication, we can work from our strengths rather than our weakneify our styles to be more effective with others — in other words, we can learn to “speak their language.”
Here are three key steps to increase your listeners receptively to your message.
- Figure out the style and needs of the person you want to reach.
- Consider timing and mood in terms of the other person’s navigating style.
- Anticipate style conflict. When planning your delivery, think of the two or three most likely objections and prepare alternative ideas in keeping with the other person’s style.
- Make certain that any materials such as memos or charts are consistent with the other person’s style.
Presenting your ideas
- Let the other person discuss the topic before you present your ideas. You may discover clues you’ve missed.
- Present your ideas clearly and briefly. Be sure to use the mode with which your listener is most comfortable.
- Answer questions using the kind of words that suit the other person’s navigating style.
Coming to an agreement
- Ask for the other person’s reaction. Watch for the clues to his or her style and the way the response is given.
- If the reaction is negative, try to explore the other person’s point of view more fully. Don’t automatically assume you understand his or her thinking process; use open-ended questions.
- Restate your listener’s views in your own words to be sure you understand the listener’s points to let him or her know how you understand those views.
- Summarize the difference in your viewpoints. Try to explore options and alternatives together.
- If the reaction is positive, discuss the next step so you both know what is going to happen.
- Don’t oversell. When you’ve gained agreement, stop. Then leave and go on to another topic. Too much discussion can generate second thoughts with the person you’re trying to influence.
Storms are common in the business environment. Conflicts in navigational style occur regularly as difficult issues arise that require resolution with other managers, subordinates and customers. While we can’t remove the issues, we can change the outcomes. We can change the way people relate to each other.
When we view interpersonal differences in terms of our different styles of communicating, we increase our chances of working together toward more productive ends. ●
Jay Nisberg is an internationally known management consultant recognized for his work in strategic planning and growth management with professional services firms and privately owned businesses. He is the author of the “Random House Handbook of Business Terms” as well as the “Random House Dictionary of Business Terms.” Nisberg is the longest active member of Accounting Today’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the Accounting Profession. He is the co-author of “Stratagem: Simple, Effective Strategic Planning for Your Business and Your Life,” published by Smart Business Network. Contact him at [email protected]