How to Adapt Your Communication Style to Every Type of Colleague

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Clifford Chi
Clifford Chi



Growing up, you most likely didn't talk to your parents the same way you talked to your friends. If you casually slipped in some of your teen lingo during a conversation, it wouldn’t register with them and they wouldn’t be able to understand what you were trying to express. They probably would’ve grounded you, too.


In the working world, a variation of the teen-parent communication dynamic still exists. All your colleagues have different personalities, and different personalities require different communication styles.

Fortunately, according to Mark Murphy, a best-selling author and expert on organizational leadership and employee engagement, most personality differences can be categorized into four fundamental personality types: analytical, intuitive, functional, and personal. 

And if you learn how to communicate the way each personality type prefers, your colleagues will be able to understand your ideas better and collaborate with you more effectively.→ Click here to download leadership lessons from HubSpot founder, Dharmesh  Shah [Free Guide].

To learn how to effectively communicate with each one, check out the insights below.

How to Adapt Your Communication Style to Every Type of Colleague

Analytical Types

People with analytical personalities tend to think in terms of facts, data, and numbers. Any claim with no hard evidence upholding it always seems suspect to them.

To prove their own points, analytical types primarily rely on data and rarely try to appeal to people’s emotions. They also tend to be extremely logical, so they’re often able to detach their emotions from most decisions and make, what they see as, the most objective, rational choice.

Analytical types usually have a high level of competence, but they can also seem aloof and clash with colleagues who have warmer personalities or rely more on emotional resonance to green light their projects.

To effectively communicate with analytical professionals, don’t lead with small talk, just start with the logic behind your conversation. When pitching an idea to them, grab their attention with the facts, and support all your arguments with compelling data.

The most effective persuasion tactic for winning over analytical types is the scientific method. If you can run an experiment or regression that proves your team has a pressing problem, they'll be more willing to support you. 

Personal Types

Personal types value connection and relationships with their colleagues more than anything else. They’re skilled at reading people’s emotions and would rather learn about how their colleagues feel at work rather than how they’re maximizing their performance.

As generally friendly, outgoing, and upbeat people, they like to listen to their colleagues, mediate conflict, and maintain the health of all their relationships.

Personal types also tend to command a lot of influence on their team -- they can develop deep, personal relationships and collaborate with almost everyone. But, sometimes, they can seem overly sensitive, caring, and optimistic -- especially to analytical types.

Naturally, they don’t always get along with people who solely focus on a project’s rationale and results without considering the human factors at play.

To effectively communicate with personal types, build some rapport with them, especially at the beginning of your interaction. The more inviting and personable you are, the more comfortable they’ll be.

During your interaction, you should also let the conversation naturally flow -- personal types love expressing their ideas and emotions, regardless of the topic.

Emotions tend to drive personal types’ decision making too. So if you want to pitch an idea to them, illuminate your project’s purpose or tell them a story about how your project will solve a pressing problem.

Intuitive Types

Intuitive professionals focus on the big picture over everything else. They tend to think concentrating on a project’s granular details will slow them down and make it more difficult to reach their larger goals.

They’re also generally results-driven and prefer to cut to the chase. So presenting broad overviews and overarching visions will appeal to them a lot better than addressing each detail of a project. The latter will quickly exhaust their patience and frustrate them.

Since intuitive types are usually obsessed with pursuing big ideas, they love tackling challenges. But intuitive types can also be impatient, so they don’t like working on projects that progress at a slow rate or require a lot of attention to detail.

Unsurprisingly, working with people who prefer to focus on the process and meticulously work on projects step-by-step is their worst nightmare.

To effectively communicate with intuitive types, don’t beat around the bush with small talk or constantly veer off into tangential topics. Cut right to chase and stay laser-focused on the subject of discussion.

You should also be able to immediately answer their questions about your ideas -- intuitive types will most likely be blunt, curious, and decisive during your interaction. To effectively answer their follow-up questions and increase the odds that they’ll approve your project, try to anticipate and prepare for them the day before your meeting.

And if you do successfully pitch a project to them, don’t promise them overly ambitious results just to please them. Intuitive professionals are incredibly results-driven. Anything short of their expectations will disappoint them and make them lose trust in you.

Functional Types

Functional types are usually all about the process. They thoroughly plan projects with precise details, so there’s no chance of anything going wrong. Their colleagues also rely on them to implement most projects because they’re confident they won’t miss a single detail.

Since functional types are so detail-oriented, though, they can lose their colleagues’ attention when they explain their plan or vision. They can also clash with people who gloss over a project’s details to focus on its overarching strategy and results.

To effectively communicate with functional types, you need to prove that you’re organized -- or else they won’t want to work with you. Actively listen to functional types describe all the project’s details and understand how each moving part works together to produce an outcome. This is what will earn their respect.

When pitching an idea to them, provide as many details as possible, give them a clear goal, and don’t rush their decision-making. They prioritize accuracy over speed and will gladly triple-check things.

Be a Chameleon

Whether its data, emotions, the nitty-gritty details, or an overarching strategy, knowing what appeals to your colleagues -- and what doesn’t -- will help you effectively communicate with your team and command more influence at work.

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