Being able to communicate effectively is essential in every career. As recruiters will tell you, it’s a skill coveted by employers. However, the ability to communicate well goes beyond being able to express yourself. It’s more than giving a compelling presentation or writing a solid report. It’s part of the talent for developing interpersonal relationships.
Communication plays a part whether you’re trying to generate sales, participate successfully on a team, or simply get along with your office-mates. It’s particularly important when it comes to cultivating relationships with significant people like your boss. The repercussions of poor communication can range from continual team conflicts to poor performance reviews.
One of the reasons we run into problems is because we like to communicate differently. As you may already know our communication style depends a lot on our personality preferences which is explored using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Not surprisingly there’s a big difference between Extroverts and Introverts. Generally, Introverts prefer to communicate via email so they have time to digest the information they’ve received and gather their thoughts before responding to others. On the other hand, Extroverts who often “think out loud” would rather pick up the phone.
Somewhat surprisingly, communication styles are not that different between generations according to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder. The company surveyed two groups of managers and workers – one group aged 25 to 34 the other group aged 55 and over. The majority of respondents from both groups said they preferred face-to-face communication, while a relatively small percentage said they preferred the phone. Although ranking a distant second to in-person conversations, respondents ranked digital communication, email or text, the next-best option. Unfortunately, the survey did not distinguish between a preference for text as opposed to email.
Of course, when it comes to communication there are gender differences as well. Men tend to focus more on what’s being said. Women frequently pay attention to more subtle messages like body language which is something to think about when you’re sitting in all those meetings. Be sure to listen to what’s being said and how people are saying it.
The bottom line is that when it comes to communicating effectively you need to think about the other person’s preferred style. If your favorite client always emails questions you might want to email your response even if you’d rather pick up the phone. If your boss generally sends texts you may want to adopt that as well. On the other hand, if your boss leaves you a voice mail you may not want to reply with a text.
One of the keys to successful communication is to use the other person’s preferred style. What if you’re not sure? It’s simple. Just ask.