How effective are you with your communication?

How effective are you with your communication?

Flexibility in communication style is an important tool at Learn2Lead. It contributes to greater efficiency, better communication and smoother collaboration. But what does that really mean? And why do you need it?

What is flexibility in communication style?

Being flexible in one’s use of different communication styles is the ability to use the specific behavior that a situation calls for. By adapting your communication and behavior to the other person and the situation, you can achieve your goals faster in a way that maintains the respectful relationship.

Have you ever been in a meeting where arguments are thrown back and forth, but no one wants to accept each other’s proposals? Where every sentence begins with “Yes, but…”? And where everyone is primarily focused on their own point of view instead of listening? This is a typical example of ineffective communication.

When you only use one communication style such as to argue, it will be difficult to achieve your goal. In order to get others on board and achieve your goals in an effective and positive way, it is also necessary to be open to the other person’s perspective. This means that you must use a different communicative style, for example active listening. In other words, you flexibly switch between different communication styles.

Is flexible communication really necessary?

If you’re thinking, “Style flexibility sounds nice, but I don’t really need it,” you’re partially right. You can go a long way with just one style. Especially when a certain style prevails in your surroundings and it fits well with your preferences.

For example, in an advisory role you have to explain your arguments well, in a social profession you have to listen to the other person, and as a leader you have to inspire. The context requires certain behavior patterns.

However, you have a greater positive impact when you can use different styles. The problem with sticking to just one style is that it becomes ineffective when the situation becomes more complex or when the other person doesn’t immediately agree with you. As in the previously mentioned example with the meeting. If people don’t listen to what you say, repeating yourself the same way won’t help.

What different styles are there?

When you search for “communication”, you will probably come across a multitude of theories, models and courses. We all use communication every day, so there are many ways to gain a better understanding of it.

At Learn2Lead, we use the Influence model® for this purpose. In the 1970s, Harvard professors David Berlew and Roger Harrison described four communication styles. They identified these based on thousands of observations of human behavior. They concluded that to be truly effective, you need to be able to switch between these four communication styles:

  1. “Persuading”: Your proposals are backed up by arguments.
  2. “Asserting”: You set boundaries and clearly express what you expect from others.
  3. “Bridging”: You listen to the other person and emphasize understanding their perspective and feelings.
  4. “Attracting”: By inspiring and exciting, you connect people and create enthusiasm and goodwill towards your goal.

Each style has its motif. With the different motives, you can achieve different goals, such as understanding someone better or clearly explaining what you actually want from them. In this way, you can achieve more together in the long term.

Flexibility between communication styles can be learned

As mentioned earlier, different situations require different behavior. Pt. you probably use one particular style much more than the others. Fortunately, you can learn all the other communication styles! And most likely you already have them available; They have simply not been used for a shorter or longer time.

Just think about:

Children are generally very flexible in their use of different communication styles. They can enthusiastically tell stories, but also make it clear in an instant if there is something they don’t want. However, due to the fact that certain behavior patterns are inhibited or cultivated more, as adults we fall into the one style that best suits the environment in which we find ourselves.

Communicating in your preferred way may seem like the easy solution. However, behaviour, including communication styles, is also an active choice. You become more influential when you can consciously choose the style that helps you achieve your goal. In many cases, it may still be your preferred style. But you are not effective, because of the style itself; you are effective because that style fits well with the goal you want to achieve. In a different context, you may well need a new strategy to achieve your goal.

Learn to use the different communication styles

We firmly believe that flexibility in your behavior and communication makes you more effective. We can teach you what, how, where and when to use each style. Would you like to know more? Take our influence test to assess which style you use most at the moment and where you can become more flexible and effective. Take the test here.

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