Everyone is different and unique in their own ways, but it’s also true that we do share an enormous amount in common. Just think about who you know, and who your friends are. Have you ever noticed how certain types of people seem to be drawn to you, or conversely, how you are drawn to certain people? One of the foundations of any kind of social relationship is having shared interests, as it creates a sense of understanding, an initial connection. Think of it as a starting off point.
But just as it’s possible to share interests and hobbies, we can also share traits and values. This is where your personality comes in, which affects everything from how you behave, to how you think, and how you feel.
While every individual is unique, we’ve also recognized that it’s possible to categorize people into different personality types based on psychographics. Each type has their own tendencies and value systems, and an understanding of these can shine a light on why someone does what they do, and also provide insight in how to best interact with them. It provides a general framework, a heuristic, if you will, which makes it possible to draw general conclusions.
Your personality is a strong influence on how you interact with others. Basically, your personality affects your communication style, which affects how other people perceive you. Whether you want to project a certain image, or it just happens naturally, a knowledge of your own style can be illuminating.
The four main styles are:
These styles are organized in a quadrant along 2 axes, dominance and sociability. Combined with emotional intelligence, an awareness of the different communication styles is an invaluable tool in all of your interpersonal interactions. In business alone, it affects everything from marketing, to leadership, HR, and management.
1. The Emotive type rates high in dominance, with high sociability. Emotives are known for being more extroverted, with more uninhibited displays of emotion. They also love people (as indicated by their high sociability), and are often the center of attention in a room. They often have a more informal approach to things, and usually prefer being on a first name basis compared to other styles. Their high dominance means they can sometimes seem like a force of nature, and they aren’t shy about expressing their opinion.
2. The Directive style rates high in dominance, and low in sociability. Directives often come across as serious and direct. They are also known for their determination. With their high dominance, they can be very frank and task-oriented, and like to maintain control. They are the down-to-business types, and don’t particularly care for small talk. But their low sociability means that they can have a hard time coming across as warm or caring, and they prefer talking to listening.
3. Reflective types are low in dominance, and low in sociability. Reflectives are generally more introverted, which means they are quiet and more restrained emotionally. They spend a lot of time in their heads, which can make them seem distant, and somewhat hard to really get to know. They prefer a greater level of formality in their social relationships, and prefer order and organization. They may also take a long time to make a decision.
4. Supportives are low in dominance, and high in sociability. Their high sociability means that this type is usually more cooperative, and combined with their low dominance, they are usually more empathetic than the other types. They are great listeners, and very patient. Their personality is much more warm and friendly, and they prefer to use these traits rather than power to gain agreement.
Now that we’ve gone through the four styles, which one do you think fits you best? Which style do you think your partner, boss, and coworkers have? Knowing your style cannot only help you leverage your strengths, but show you areas of possible improvement. Know the styles of your friends, family, and coworkers can give you a better insight into how they think, and can help you maximize the value of the interactions you have with them. It can also help to minimize any misunderstandings or miscommunication that may result from the clash of disparate styles.
Think of it this way. There may be someone, a mutual friend, or perhaps an office acquaintance, with whom you just can’t seem to get along with. Instead of just writing them off as being antagonistic and uncooperative, consider their communication style, and see how it compares to yours. It could make your life a whole lot easier, and more stress free. Wouldn’t that be great?