There are always going to be challenges when working with others. After all,
everyone is different, with different priorities, views, values, temperaments, and so on.
But there is also no escaping these challenges. From group projects back in
high school to reports and presentations in adult life, we are constantly forced to correspond, collaborate, and compromise with our co-workers.
The correspond part can get particularly tricky. Between emails, text
messages, phone calls, and zoom calls, the variety in communication that is so prevalent today produces a greater risk for your point getting lost in translation.
In order to ensure you get your desired outcome – whether it be information
needed, instructions clarified, or responsibilities delegated – it’s important to recognize and appropriately respond to whatever communication style you’re faced with. Below are four common communication styles and tips on how to handle them.
1. “Show Me the Data.”
People with this communication style are typically your attorneys and
engineers. They spend their days pouring over details and evaluating data. They are very cautious in their
decision-making because in their world, every detail makes a difference.
You can recognize these coworkers by the questions they ask, like:
“Where is the meeting?”
“Who’s going to be there?”
“Is there an agenda?”
They want – and need – every known detail before they can focus on anything
So, what’s the best way to work with people like this? You can save yourself a
lot of frustration and wasted time by giving them what they want upfront. Don’t wait for them to ask the questions.
Start the conversation by laying out everything you know, and tell them that is all the information you have. Then you
are free to move on to whatever it is you need from them.
2. “Get to the Point.”
These are the people who hate small talk. They don’t want to discuss the
weather or how their day is going in order to ease into business-related conversation. No, they want to get right to
This can be off-putting to some. But once you recognize that it isn’t
personal, it’s easier to relax and fall into a productive working relationship with them.
Rather than push back against their directness, you can disarm their
sometimes-demanding temperament by getting to the point. An example would be:
“Hey Joe, the reason why I’m calling is…”
“Hey Jane, when do you expect to have the proposal done?”
NO small talk. All business. It’s really quite simple – just get to the point.
3. The People Who are Always Happy.
These people are very easy to talk to. So easy in fact, you often find
yourself completely off track from the point of the interaction. A quick call to follow up on a report turns into
thirty minutes chatting about family.
While these conversations can be enjoyable, they can also feel like a waste of
valuable time. But if you are not in a position of authority within the conversation – if you are talking with a boss,
client, or customer – then it’s not in your best interest to make them feel rushed or like you aren’t interested in
what they have to say.
With these personalities, it is best to engage with them. Ask a question, then
sit back and listen. You can nudge them every now and then to try to keep them on track, but know that anything more
forceful than a nudge could jeopardize the relationship.
4. The People Pleasers.
These are the people who don’t seem to have “no” in their vocabulary. Sure,
it’s easy to get what you want out of them, except if what you want is honest feedback or someone to challenge your
If you want – or need – these people to help you or the business grow by
challenging the mainstream, debating different directions, or playing devil’s advocate, they need to know you care
about them. They need to believe that disagreeing with you or upsetting you will not undermine your relationship on a
This may require you to constantly reassure them that you won’t think less of
them if they disagree with you. It may require you to go out of your way to show them you care about them as a person
outside of work. It will be different for everyone, but if you want these people to show their true colors, you have
to show them it’s safe to do so.
Josh Krafchick, AKA “CHACHI”