Decoding Communication Styles

Posted by HR Division of Propel HR on 5/23/18 3:18 PM
HR Division of Propel HR
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Posted on: May 23, 2018

With a fast-approaching deadline, your client hasn’t responded to multiple emails about a project. What’s the holdup? Everyone’s favorite, fun-loving managing director is wildly popular. He seems to know how to motive his staff, so why is the turnover rate in his division the highest in the company? Your sales team just scored a big win for the company. Already battling downtime issues, your plants are not prepared to meet the new client’s deadline requirements promised by the sales team. Sound familiar?

In most cases, workforce conflicts like these are the result of a simple miscommunication or disconnect and could be the underlying reason your company is not reaching its goals. While effective communications is not a new concept, learning how to identify and relate to different communication styles is more important than ever before. It’s a winning business strategy in preventing conflicts, keeping employees productive, making smart hires, and protecting your bottom line.

According to the Harvard Business Review, when global CEOs were surveyed about their biggest challenges, strategy execution topped the list ahead of concerns about top-line growth, innovation and geopolitical instability. In addition, studies have found that the main reason organizations struggle is because leadership focuses on the wrong issues. The most common? Believing that communicating a message will result in understanding that message.

The more you talk about your company’s strategy, the more everyone will fully understand it, right?

Not exactly. For example, just half of the C-suite executives surveyed said they had a good understanding of their company’s strategic priorities. But down the command chain, when messages reached managers, team leaders and frontline supervisors, only 16 percent had a solid grasp of their company’s priorities.

AdobeStock_42332470-345227 cropPart of the problem is failing to recognize that we all communicate differently, so using the same approach to reach all audiences is not effective. Often, management will concentrate on the quantity of messages delivered, the number of emails and meetings, rather than focusing on helping staff to understand the message.

The good news? There’s a solution.

Further Reading: Focus on Growth But Prepare For HR



In today’s workplace, communications is a 360-approach and training your staff, at all levels, can greatly transform outcomes. HR assessment tools, like D.A.R.E, SENTIO, Birkman, DISC, and Omnia, are just a few resources available to help companies decode the communications styles influencing work-place behavior.

Generally, people fall into one of four widely-accepted communication styles.

  • The Driver. The Driver is motivated to win. Goal-oriented and often the extrovert, the Driver likes control and is often a risk-taker. This direct, go-getter style makes the Driver ideal for strong leadership roles, but may not be as effective where patience and sensitivity skills are required.
  • The Analytical. Reserved and organized, the Analytical is the ultimate problem-solver. Often viewed as a perfectionist, the Analytical follows a very methodical, logical process supported by facts. Because they are extremely thorough, the Analytical takes a low-risk approach and deliberates on decisions, often reaching analysis paralysis.
  • The Relator. Loyal, hardworking and dependable, the Relator is a people-person and an ideal team player. The Relator is generally a peacemaker and avoids conflict. Because relationships come first, the Relator values trust, which can be established by a connection centered on intuition and feelings.
  • The Expressive. Creative and enthusiastic, the Expressive enjoys the spotlight and is completely comfortable in a social setting. Good listeners and supportive team players, the Expressive looks at the big picture and tends to focus more on developing long-lasting relationships and less on the tasks and details.


The value of understanding how to communicate with each different style is not only effective in relating to your employees, but also with clients, prospects and vendors – all relationships where business and revenue are at stake.

AdobeStock_108947649Here’s a common example. The head of your sales team has had a long-standing relationship with the marketing director of your largest client. Both are Drivers and share similar interests. The marketing director buys your company’s product, not only for its quality, but also for its reputation as an industry leader. The marketing director supports your company’s causes and enjoys the visibility of being associated with your company’s prestigious brand. Over the years, your sales director has invested much of his time with the marketing director at social events and on the golf course where deals and important decisions are often made. As a result, the relationship has flourished which has positively impacted your bottom line -- until the marketing director is promoted and relocated to another division.

The decision-rights have now changed. The new marketing director is data-driven and more focused on your product’s performance attributes and cost-saving benefits than your company’s stellar brand reputation.

Can the relationship be saved? Absolutely. By recognizing the behavior queues of this analytical style, your team was able to win-over the new marketing director by delivering an action plan detailing responsibilities, production deadlines and fee schedules. Effective communications saved the business.

Further Reading: The Importance of Human Resources in Business Decision-Making



While miscommunication, workforce conflicts, bad hires, and difficult relationships are often unavoidable, equipping your workforce with techniques to build effective relationships is an investment with long-lasting benefits.

Here are a few:  

  • Stronger HR hiring practices. Trained employees are better able to identify high-quality candidates that fit with the team
  • Protects your bottom line. Understanding how to relate to different communication styles lowers the risk of revenue loss as a result of miscommunications and workplace conflicts.
  • Adds value to your leadership team. Skilled managers are able to anticipate workforce behaviors and build stronger teams.
  • More productive work habits. A knowledgeable workforce leads to improved business outcomes.


Need help with identifying the different communication styles of your workforce? A corporate coach or HR professional can help your business make the most of your current workforce, as well as provide the guidance to attract new hires and strategically assemble your teams. Learn how to establish trust, negotiate without alienation, and successfully build strong relationships.

From selecting the right assessment tool for your company to management and employee development and training, our experienced professionals can help strengthen your workforce and propel your business forward.


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