Good communication is a powerful asset in building your team and breathes life into the work you do together. On the other hand, poor communication can tear apart a team, damage relationships, and destroy the work you’re trying to accomplish. Each of us is wired differently to give and receive information in various ways. These differences in communicating are part of what makes each of us unique.
Most people are not surprised to learn that each team member is wired to communicate differently. What surprises them is how differences in communicating bring strength to the team. As team members find out how others are wired to receive information, they can make small adjustments in how they communicate. In customizing their communication with each other, they breathe life into the team rather than destroy it.
A helpful tool in assessing your communication preferences and of others on your team is the Leading From Your Strengths profile. The LFYS profile report reveals the ways the user best receives information and what can prevent him from receiving information. Statements listed in the communication section are neither inherently good nor inherently bad, but rather simply indicate communication style. By looking at these statements, team members can better understand what to do and what not to do when communicating with others on the team.
Keys to Customizing Your Communication
Two pieces of information are helpful in order to customize your communication with another person. First, you need to know the person’s most well-defined natural strength. The LFYS profile report indicates which area the person has a clear dominant strength. Once you are aware of the other person’s most clearly-defined area of strength, you can customize your communication to fit that bent.
Rodney Cox, founder of Ministry Insights and creator of the LFYS profile, offers the following tips of how to communicate best with people who exhibit strengths that are different than yours. Each suggestion also includes some things to avoid that lead to miscommunication.
For a person who demonstrates Aggressive traits when it comes to problem solving.
This person can be ambitious, forceful, decisive, strong-willed, independent and goal-oriented. When communicating with him, be clear, specific, brief and to the point. Stick to business. Be prepared with support material in a well-organized “package.” Note that you’ll create tension or dissatisfaction with this person if you talk about things that are not relevant to the issue. Don’t leave loopholes or cloudy issues. Avoid appearing disorganized.
For a person who demonstrates Optimistic strengths when it comes to processing information.
This person can be magnetic, enthusiastic, friendly, demonstrative, and political. When communicating with him, provide a warm and friendly environment. Don’t deal with a lot of details – put them in writing instead. Ask “feeling” questions to draw out this person’s opinions or comments. Note that you’ll create tension or dissatisfaction with this person by being curt, cold or tight-lipped or by attempting to control the conversation. Try to avoid a focus on facts and figures, alternatives, or abstractions.
For a person who demonstrates Predictable traits when it comes to managing change.
This person can be patient, predictable, reliable, steady, relaxed and modest. When communicating with him, begin with a personal comment to break the ice. Present your case softly and non threateningly. Ask “how?” questions to draw out his opinions. Note that you’ll create tension or dissatisfaction with this person by rushing headlong into business. He doesn’t respond well to domineering or demanding interchanges. Avoid forcing him to respond quickly to your objectives.
For a person who demonstrates Structured traits when it comes to facing risk.
This person can be is dependent, neat, conservative, perfectionistic, careful and compliant. When communicating with him, prepare your case in advance. Stick to business. Be accurate and realistic. Note that you’ll create tension or dissatisfaction with this person by being giddy, casual, informal, or loud. He won’t respond well if you push too hard or are unrealistic with deadlines. This person doesn’t respond when conversations are disorganized or messy.
Even if you do not have access to the LFYS profile, here are some simple questions you can ask yourself about the best way others like to receive and share information.
- Consider your relationship with a team member. What is one way this person likes to receive information? What is one way this person likes to share information?
- What is one step I can take to give and receive information more effectively with this person?
- What are the best ways for others to communicate with you? Be ready to share when given the opportunity.
Your ways of communicating are not right or wrong, but merely unique to you. Rather than recriminate yourself, now you can cultivate ways of communicating which are best for you. Further, when people around you communicate using other methods, you can appreciate their approach and use it with them, rather than judging it.
Good communication is a key to an effective team. It is based on understanding and sharing your preferences as well as identifying the preferences of others and adjusting your communication accordingly. For further information on building effective teams, visit www.effectiveministryteams.com.