Curly or straight – what’s your communication style?

3 April 2015

Are you straight-forward and direct?

Do you express views and opinions in a frank manner?

Do you confront issues openly?

When you speak, do you leave little room for misunderstanding?

Or perhaps you are tactful and respectful, expressing views and opinions diplomatically.

Do you avoid conflict if at all possible and expect your listener to “read between the lines”?

Whether we’re a direct or indirect communicator is often determined by our predominant culture. Understanding how culture influences communication, and adjusting our own innate style to accommodate the different behaviours of our colleagues, can make a world of difference to team cohesion and performance.

James Alderton, from Bamboo Bridge, believes that having the attitude and skills to anticipate, correctly interpret and adjust to the culturally defined behaviour of others is a strong indicator of intercultural intelligence.

He also sees intercultural intelligence as a key attribute of successful leadership in the 21st century, alongside the more traditional IQ, Emotional Intelligence, and Experience factors.

Here are a few of James’s tips for improving intercultural intelligence:

If you’re a Direct Communicator:
– Be careful when raising difficult topics
– Don’t jump straight to the point
– Be mindful of how you say things as well as what you say
– Pay attention to what is not said and watch for non-verbal clues

If you’re an Indirect Communicator:
– Try to “say what you mean” and get straight to the point
– Expect conflict to be dealt with more openly than you’re used to
– Communicate in words and avoid non-verbal communication

James says understanding cultural influences on how people form relationships, particularly at work, can also boost intercultural intelligence.

“Identifying who are the ‘situational’ and who are the ‘universal’ relationship formers can really help a team leader bridge cultural communication gaps,” James said.

Like to learn more about intercultural intelligence? Ask to be included on the guest list for the next business briefing breakfast hosted by Presence Communications, Bamboo Bridge and OD Consulting. Send your request to

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