Understanding communication styles helps workplace relationships

June 14, 2018 - 9 minute read

At the basis of a positive employment experience, is positive cooperation with your colleagues. Think about it: when employees enjoy the people they work with, they enjoy their own work more, their work is completed more efficiently, and everyone feels more involved with the organisation.

Jovanka Hoeboer from Breaking Habits discussed in our recent interview with her how various communication styles between colleagues are normal, and commonly causes friction in the workplace. Having insight into your own communication style, as well as the different styles of your team members, can provide practical tips for everyday situations when you collaborate with your colleagues.

To understand the different types of people in your team and what attitudes you can expect from them, we can refer to the DISC model to gain insights on different communication styles. We can also refer to the nine team roles of Belbin, to help us understand and identify the common personality types that can be found in a team environment. The DISC model identifies the most common communication styles we see in individuals.

DISC Model

In 1928 William Moulton Marston wrote a book that describes the behaviours an motives of 'normal' people. In his publication titled 'Emotions of normal people' he describes, amongst other things, the DISC model. This theory states that each person has a preference for a communication style, dependant on their personality. Where one person needs clarity and focuses on results, the other person views the actual path to the result as more important. The styles that distinguish the DISC model are Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance.

DISC C-graphs_EN-01

Understanding the different roles can provide an understanding of how you can get the most from different types of people in an internal social network.

  • The decisive person wants to see deadlines and clarity about who takes responsibility for which task
  • The interactive person sees the internal social network primarily as a place to share fun and special work experiences, and to be stimulated with actions and challenges
  • The stable person will shine if they are asked to share knowledge
  • The confirming type likes to find checklists about various work processes

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The nine team roles of Belbin

Dr. Meredith Belbin developed the theory that a successful team consists of nine different types of personas. These types are located in four categories: doing, thinking, wanting and feeling

Belbin Nine C-graphs_EN-03

To do

  1. The Co-ordinator - Once matters have been agreed upon and determined, this is the right person to ensure that the project will be implemented smoothly. This person is organisational strong, practical, collegial, and only finds peace once something is ready.

To ensure that a project is run in the right direction, The Co-ordinator likes to share the action plan on the internal social network in order to communicate clearly, to share what objectives there are and to deligate who is responsible for delivering them.

2. The Resource Investigator - Someone who loves crowds, action and progress. This busy bee is always on the road, can be found everywhere and anywhere, and likes to be the centre of attention.

If there is a proposal on the table, the source researcher is your ideal person to reinforce the idea of internal social media, and to motivate everyone for the usefulness of this proposal.

To think

3. The Plant - Is a real thinker who is creative. You can expect original ideas from this introverted person, but you also have to be careful because they can overlook details.

An internal social network is a pleasant fairway for The Plant because they can share their thoughts and creative insights quietly and easily.

4. The Monitor - Just like The Plant, they are true thinkers who especially likes to look critically at whats happening. They have businesslike, detached attitudes, and will deliberate and weigh up all of the arguments before drawing a conclusion or giving advice.

If a poll is turned off to determine what the name will be for the new internal social network, The Monitor will not hide its reasoning, or put its opinions on the internal social network.

To want

5. The Implementer - An organised person who possess the right interview techniques to achieve efficient and reflective results. They have a good eye for other people's talents and are often asked to be leaders of a group.

On the internal social network, The Implementer  likes to take the initiative to organise events. 

6. The Shaper - An ambitious person who is full of initiative and energy, is focused and can convince well. In this person you will find a passionate and extraverted leader. 

On the internal social network, you can rely on The Shaper as the person who thinks up ideas, translates them into concrete plans and assembles the right people to work on the task.

To feel

7. The Complete Finisher - Someone who will guarantee the highest quality of work, who is very focused on details, is collegial and involved. This person works carefully, and can plan well.

The Complete Finisher assigns colleagues to the internal social network work without being afraid if language errors, incorrect formulations and lack of clarity. With The Complete Finisher on the internal social network, you can be confident that the quality meets the highest standards.

8. The Team Worker - The most social person in Belbin's team roles is The Team Worker. This person is fond of socialising, and possesses the ability to connect a group of individuals together. They have strong conversational skills and prefers to resolve disagreement as quickly as possible. The Team Worker is a real diplomat.

If there is a team outing - which has been organised by The Team Worker - they will share the latest details via the internal social network, and they will share pictures of the event with everyone afterwards.

The ninth team role

9. The Specialist - This team role is also called the ninth team role, because generally this person doesn't like to work as apart of a team. They have unrestricted knowledge about a limited discipline, they prefer not to work with others and will look for an answer until they have found it.

On the internal social network you can immediately file problems with The Specialist: they will ensure that it's resolved.

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Communication styles

The communication styles describe how an individual prefers to be interacted with. 

Communication Types C-graphs_EN-02

The four styles are determined by the following preferences; does someone in a meeting usually assume a guiding role, or do they tend to follow others? And is someone more focused on factual and business communication, or more personally with room for emotion? These axes lead to four communication styles where someone expresses his verbal and non-verbal behaviour: friendly, expressive, thoughtful and directive. The way in which you come across and which impression you make, can of course differ per situation.

Expressive communication style

People who express themselves easily, and have creative ideas. Individuals with this communication style can easily convince or influence other people. 

On the internal social network you can be assured that this person likes to mix in creative processes and brainstorms. If you ask for input, chances are that this person will deliver!

Direct communication style 

Someone who prefers directive communication is decisive, and likes to take matters into their own hands.

Through the internal social network, this person will regularly post to remind people of the tasks that need to be done, and ask them about their status,.

Thoughtful communication style

Individuals with thoughtful communication style are more considerate and reserved. An analytical approach typifies this type of communication style.

If you have a question for someone with the thoughtful communication style, it is a good idea to use the internal social network. That way, you give someone time to think about a well thought-out solution.

Friendly communication style 

A person with a friendly communication style pays a lot of attention to building good relationships with others, and likes to pay attention to the feelings and needs of others.

Someone who works at home or reports ill can count on interest from the person with the friendly communication style - you can expect sincere interest from this person on how you are doing when you're not in the office.

Tips to help your team move forward

By consciously working with preferences in communication, you can learn to better understand the best approach for the people you work with. You can benefit from having better insight into what motivates colleagues and how you can optimally involve them and connect them with your team, branch and organisation.

Test online

The DISC test and the team roles of Belbin can be done for free at 123test. In addition to the traditional communication styles/cooperation styles and team roles, there are also online resources that can help you understand your personality. 16 personalities is a website where you can use a free test to examine which personality type you are, and then set some personal learning goals.

Do you know what a highly-engaged employee looks like? Download our infographic to find out!

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