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Four Communication Styles

The psychologist Carl Jung developed a theory of human personality types, and divided them into four general categories, as shown below.

Most people are a combination of these, but one personality type is usually more dominant. In the workplace, as in daily life, we interact with people whose dominant personality type differs from our own. Take a minute to consider your written communication style. Is your style direct, informal, conversational, to the point? Or are you perhaps a bit more formal, less direct, perhaps a bit wordy?

The Doer

Description: action- and results-oriented, workaholic, competitive, decisive; firm hand-shake.

Common occupations: CEO, entrepreneur, manager, coach.

Communication style: gets right to the point; can sometimes be abrupt.

The Thinker

Description: conservative, analytical, detail-oriented; slow to make decisions.

Common occupations: accountant, lawyer, engineer.

Communication style: somewhat wordy; wants to explain the whole picture.

The Feeler

Description: people-person; friendly, warm, concerned with relationships.

Common occupations: salesperson, teacher, administrative assistant, nurse.

Communication style: persuasive, enthusiastic, creative.

The Creator

Description: scholarly, conceptual, abstract thinker.

Common occupations: scientist, researcher, artist.

Communication style: creative; takes longer to get to the point.

Three Learning Styles

We also learn in different ways—hearing, seeing, touching—and again, one style of learning is usually dominant. Can you identify your dominant learning style?

Auditory Learner Language Patterns

Verbs: hear, listen, sound, resonate, call, tell, speak

Expressions: earful; unheard of; tuned-in; manner of speaking; outspoken

Conversational clues: I hear you loud and clear. Sounds good to me. That rings a bell. How does that resonate with you? To tell the truth…

Visual Learner Language Patterns

Verbs: see, look, view, show, appear, reveal, envision, illustrate

Expressions: in my mind’s eye; pretty as a picture; sight for sore eyes; take a peek

Conversational clues: I’ll look into the matter. That’s clear to me. I see your point. It appears to me that… Keep an eye out for….

Kinesthetic Learner Language Patterns

Verbs: feel, touch, grasp, get hold of, catch on, make contact

Expressions: come to grips with; get a handle on; get in touch with; hands-on experience; got a feel for something; pain in the neck; pull strings

Conversational clues: I feel that… Let’s lay our cards on the table. I’ll handle the paperwork. He’s as sharp as a tack. Get a load of this.

Assessing Your Communication Style

Take a few minutes to consider your own style of communication by completing this self-assessment. You may find you already have some strengths, and will discover other areas where you could use an update.

   Yes No Don’t Know
1. Before beginning to write, I analyze my reader’s needs.

2. I tell my reader what it’s about in the first sentence.

3. I eliminate details my reader doesn’t need to know.

4. I try to keep my message to just one page.

5. I design my page visually with lots of white space.

6. I highlight key information for my reader’s eye.

7. I always close with an action line.

8. I edit and proofread my document before sending it.

Take a few minutes to evaluate yourself.

  1. Some skills I already have in writing are…



  2. Some things I find difficult in writing are…



  3. I would be a better writer if I could…



A Matter of Style

Don’t worry if you did not answer “yes” to every question on the previous page. As you proceed through this book, each item will be explained and illustrated with exercises that will help you make the most of your style and adjust it, where needed, for today’s busy workplace.

Keep in mind that you should always write for your reader. Identify your readers’ communication and learning styles and adapt to their language patterns to establish empathy and rapport. Is your reader a decision-maker, perhaps a timepressed executive who “hears things loud and clear” and wants only bottom-line recommendations and costs before approving a project? Or perhaps a technical specialist who will “take a good look at” the complete methodology and reasoned conclusions before making a decision?

Is your relationship with business associates informal and personal, or does the situation require a more formal approach? When appropriate, adjust your style to the principles of Shirtsleeve English to fit the tone of today’s fast-paced Information Age.

Consider the difference: “I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere congratulations on your recent appointment to the position of Vice President of the XYZ Corporation.” Or: “Congratulations, John! Vice President! You’ve earned it. Let me treat you to lunch.”

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