30 April 2013

What’s Your Preferred Communication Style?

Organizations talk frequently about the importance of their employees working together.  The reality is that working together doesn’t always work well — working with others isn’t easy and teamwork isn’t natural for some people.  But being able to build strong, effective, working relationships with team members is often the determining factor for both an individual, and a team’s, long-term success.

Your ability as a team member to do your job and succeed is dependent upon others doing their jobs. Working effectively in a team environment requires you to communicate well and often. It demands that you be flexible and adaptable and recognize the importance (and the contributions) of other people on your team. 

From my work with teams, I know that communications is key to a group’s success.  Teams need to have some communication norms: how will team members keep each other informed; how will they disagree without things getting personal; how will they reach agreement?

Earlier this year I was interviewed about how we ‘prefer’ to communicate in Associations Now Magazine.  I talked about the different communication styles we bring to our work.  Most of us are able to use some part of the different communication styles — meaning we may have a clear preference in terms of how we want to communicate with others and also be communicated with — but we can ‘flex and blend’ the way we communicate to help our team be more effective.  For example, if Sarah’s primary style is very direct, but she has several team members who are more systematic in their communications — meaning they want more detail and look for ’cause and effect’ — then it makes sense for Sarah to flex her direct style, include more detail, and ask her teammates what other information would be helpful to them to move things forward.  In other words, Sarah’s preferred style may mean she doesn’t need to communicate anything more, but she realizes those she is communicating with need more.

Do you know your preferred communication style?  Perhaps you and your team members can share with one another how you prefer to communicate so you can accommodate one another in service to your team’s goals.

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