Creative Leadership

How Well Do You Understand How People Communicate?

I love to talk about big picture issues like engaging today’s culture. But we sometimes forget that just getting your message understood by your boss, or your employees or team is critical to making the big picture happen. Two types of communicators you need to understand are people who think by talking, and people who think by doing. I’m a doer. Maybe it’s my A.D.D., but I’m really not interested in most details.

A former team member at our media production and strategy company Cooke Media Group was a detail guy. That’s a big reason I brought him on the team. He had a white board in his office with circles, arrows, buzzwords, and other stuff – it was just filled. He wanted to look under the hood of projects and rummage around in there. I just want to see the dashboard: tell me how fast we’re going, and if we have enough gas, and I’m fine.

Which communication style is your boss? Your clients? Your team? The people you communicate with?

When my team brings me detailed reports, or ramble on and on, I mentally check out. When overly detailed people schedule an appointment with me, my assistant tells them “When his eyes glaze over, the meeting is done.” If you want to get to me, it’s bullet points, not details. My wife Kathleen’s friends get together and it often sounds to me like a non-stop chat fest. I get together with a group of my friends and sometimes 5,10, or 15 minutes go by and we don’t say a word.

It’s guy thing.

The point is? We are constantly frustrated because we don’t take the time to learn how people communicate.  It’s not about “better or worse.”  Both styles work, but are very different – and you’ll never accomplish much if you don’t learn and respond to the ways different people communicate.

Know who you’re talking to, and make sure the message you transmit is the message that’s received.  Then see how your life changes…

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