How Does Your Workplace Communication Style Impact Your Team?

By Kate L. Harrison

Updated September 24, 2019

To say that good communication in the workplace affects the financial bottom line is a serious understatement. In a recent survey of 400 companies with 100,000+ employees, the average estimated loss per company from poor internal communications was $62.4 million. The communication challenges facing small businesses with smaller teams may not be as complex or costly as an international corporation, but they can be equally detrimental to the health and overall success of the company.

According to thought leader and NY Times best-selling author Mark Murphy, there are four kinds of core communication styles: Analytical, Intuitive, Functional, and Personal. While he states that no single style is better than any other, understanding your own style can help you do a better job of sharing and receiving important information with others. Here are Murphy’s four styles with some of their pros and cons, as well as ways you may be able to improve your communication in the workplace.

Analytical Communicators

Analytical Communicators are often categorized as chart-loving, data-driven people. They frequently focus on facts and projections, love citing figures and statistics, and tend to rely on data-driven decision-making. Conversely, they can get frustrated if they feel that someone on their team is making decisions without a good handle on the numbers.

What you can do to improve: If you are an Analytical Communicator, try to practice patience with colleagues who may not be tracking things as analytically as you are. You might also consider making space for some emotional time in meetings, which are unlikely to run as efficiently as you would like. When presenting to Intuitive Communicators in particular, it’s important to try to add visuals and start with a summary of how your findings impact the big picture. Put all your data slides in your appendix and be prepared not to display them unless asked.

Intuitive Communicators

Intuitive Communicators are big thinkers who tend to want the bottom line first, without a lot of detail. Having to listen to someone review their step-by-step process can feel unnecessary.

What you need to do to improve: Intuitive Communicators can have a hard time understanding the thought processes of data-obsessed Analytical Communicators, as well as with the needs of Functional Communicators, who want to walk through all their processes methodically. If you’re an Intuitive Communicator who manages those who are Analytical or Functional, ask them to start their meetings with a summary. This helps orient everyone and can help all involved parties get on the same page. Nonetheless, recognize that some employees may feel anxious if you don’t present the steps in the process, they need to validate their conclusions.

Functional Communicators

Functional Communicators are process people. They like to break large tasks into smaller tasks, and love timelines, whiteboards, and ‘Gantt’ charts.

What you need to do to improve: Remember that some people, especially Intuitive Communicators, can feel overwhelmed and bogged down by a methodical approach. They will want to jump ahead, which can be frustrating because you know how much they are missing. By giving them a summary of what they need to know up front, and then pointing out key details later, you’ll be better able to keep the attention of everyone in the room. In meetings, try to focus less on the details of what has happened already, and more on the impact of choices still to be made.

Personal Communicators

Personal Communicators are the glue that holds the office’s social and emotional life together. They place a high value on feelings and emotional connection, and use their strong interpersonal skills to understand what others are “really thinking.” They know that getting buy-in and collaboration requires trust, and trust is built on emotion rather than facts.

What you need to do to improve: Try to remember that not everyone wants to hug things out. Some coworkers can experience your desire to have a more emotional connection as a distraction. Keep focused on building connections with those who are willing, while giving others the space they need to succeed.

Bottom Line

Each communication style brings unique skills and challenges to an office environment. By understanding your style and the styles of those around you, you can remove many of the roadblocks clogging the communication channels that your small business must rely on to succeed.

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