Got Style?

by Grace Judson

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What’s your style?

What’s your executive’s style?

What about your coworkers?

I’m not talking about fashion. I’m talking about communication.

We all have preferences in how we want to communicate and how we want others to communicate with us. For instance, if you’re casual and people-oriented, you probably enjoy hearing about your colleagues’ weekend adventures, and you like telling stories about your family and your pet’s antics. Or, you might be detail-oriented and factual, in which case those stories probably drive you slightly crazy.

Meanwhile, some people are high-level visionaries who are quickly overwhelmed or bored by too much detail—while the detail-oriented people can’t stand not knowing the finer points of a project, problem, or goal. Some people want to talk face-to-face, or at least on the phone or via Skype or Zoom. Others are allergic to the phone and much prefer email or text messages. And so on.

Why is this important? Well, when you know your own style, as well as that of the people around you, you’ll be far more prepared to actually connect with people and have them hear what you have to say. You already know this to be true, even if you haven’t actually thought it through. If your style is “just the facts,” preferably in email, then you know how hard it can be to focus on someone’s chatty, informal, and/or high-level conversation on the phone. Have you ever told someone, “Please, just email me the details!”?

On the other hand, if you love to tell stories of what happened to you over the weekend, you know how frustrating and even hurtful it can be when someone is clearly uninterested and asks you, “Please just cut to the chase, already!”

This week, take some time to consider your own preferences, and to observe the people you interact with most often. See what you can learn about what styles they respond to – or resist. And then see what happens when you consciously adapt your communication to fit their preference.


Grace Judson is an expert on communication, conflict transformation, and negotiation. She works with individuals, teams, and leaders to help them have the clean, clear, honest conversations that improve relationships and build careers. She can be reached on her website, www.gracejudson.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter and receive weekly tips on communication, conflict, and connection, including notification of the upcoming Communication Lab module “Managing your Inner Critic: how to stop the rotten-tomato fight in your head.”

And if you’re interested in learning more about communication styles (and you have your CAP certification), check out the Organizational Management Specialty Certificate, which includes a module on Compelling Communication.

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