Test Drive A New Communication Style

6 June 2014

Guest Blogger: Becky Paroz

Supercar from istockCommunication is a two way street, where messages are exchanged.  Commas, full stops and exclamation marks are the give way signs.

Traffic lights are the indicators of effective communication.  If you get all greens, you are usually understood.  If you get red frequently, perhaps you have not adjusted your style to the conditions around you.

Your communication style is like the type of car you drive.  Is your style fast; in a hurry to get to the next set of lights (messages)?  Is it unhurried; happy to take in the view along the journey?

“Just like you are expected to follow the speed signs on the highway, you will be given signs by your audience on whether they are keeping up, losing you in the distance, or are racing ahead of you.”

The first step in effective communication is to identify your standard vehicle.  Once you have identified it, then you can start to see how others view your communication.

Do you struggle to get your message across with employees?  You might be a cruise-y driver, and they are on the autobahn – which would explain why they don’t let you finish your sentences.

Are you a fast driver who gets asked to repeat themselves?  You might be surrounded by scenery lovers!

Once you have identified your type of communication style, and those around you, you might already have an idea why your communication has not been as effective as it could be.

When you are communicating with others, the idea is to deliver the message in their type of vehicle, not yours. It is the height of arrogance to deliver a message in your own language (vehicle) and expect others to adjust to your style and speed, just like it is rude to be a road hog or a tailgater. If you want effective communication, you need to deliver the message in a style that will be accepted by the receiver.

Just like you are expected to follow the speed signs on the highway, you will be given signs by your audience on whether they are keeping up, losing you in the distance, or are racing ahead of you.

One on one communication can be easier when you realize that the delivery of the message is about the other person understanding in their language, not yours.  Once you get to group communication, it can be a lot more difficult to manage.  This is where having a range of styles available to you is beneficial.

Like the difference between driving in snow and on a sunny day, your repertoire of communication should have a range of skills that you can adjust to suit the conditions of your audience.

Pick the right audience with a vehicle a little different to yours to start off with.  Don’t be afraid to practise.  While it might seem fantastic to you now, once you were nervous and uncertain about getting behind the wheel of a car.  Communicating in different styles is the same as learning to navigate those gears and get the indicators right for the first time.

Like when you realised that a car gives you untold freedoms to explore new and exciting places, broadening your communication horizons offers its own rewards.

Becky Paroz is the Director of Queen B Project Systems P/L, an accomplished engineer-turned-author and mentor for young professionals, particularly in project management roles. Contact Becky viaqueenbps@tpg.com.au and visit https://www.amazon.com/author/bekstar.

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