*4 Ways of Communicating for Improved Productivity

Monday, December 7th, 2009


Your VP of Sales is from Pluto.

Do you remember the early nineties bestseller by John Gray, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus?  That book introduced the idea that men and women have different communication styles, and that their relationships could benefit from an understanding of those styles and the ways they differ.

Guess what?  It turns out that (gender aside) each individual is a makeup of four different behavioral styles, and most of us function–and communicate–the majority of the time through one or two dominant styles among the four.  

So just as men and women started to examine their communication styles back in the nineties, it makes sense for today’s business practitioners to identify their own and their colleagues’. By looking at the way people most prefer to behave, both under favorable and adverse (read, stress) conditions, we can tailor our messages to them to be more effective. There are many ways to say the same thing.   Imagine you’d like one of your employees to speed up the timeline on a project.  You might say:

A.     Pat, I really need your help on this project.  There’s a lot of pressure to get it in on schedule, so anything you can do to keep things moving will really be appreciated by the whole team.  Let’s show the Director how good our Department really is.

B.     Pat, there’s a lot of pressure to get this project in on time.  I’m leaving it up to you–Use whatever strategies you think will work best to motivate the team.

C.     Pat, we’re under a lot of pressure to get this project done ASAP.  I know I can count on you to make sure we don’t overlook any of the important details in the rush of getting it in on time.

D.    Pat, it will be tricky to get all our team members to cooperate and get this project in on time.  We’re under a lot of pressure, but I know I can count on you to encourage everyone to work together.

As you read through the 4 examples, you may have found yourself nodding to one or more of them in acknowledgment of the appropriateness of that approach for you.  Unfortunately just because one (or more) of the styles might be your most preferred, does not mean that it is the most preferred for the person to whom you are communicating. 

So the next time you hit a roadblock when communicating to someone in your group, someone who reports to you, or even to your significant other, think about the way that person usually communicates with you; It might give you a clue to that person’s preferred style, and help you communicate better. 

And if you find this is an area you need assistance with in your department, there’s a great tool available.  In the late 1960’s, behavioral scientist Dr. Stuart Atkins identified four "Life Orientations", as he calls the four main behavioral styles, Atkins joined with Dr. Elias Porter to develop LIFO®, a product that allows individuals to understand their own most (and least) preferred styles as well as to assess the styles of others.

LIFO® assessment and training can help you become a better communicator, help your whole group interact more productively, and help them work together more efficiently.  Contact the author (http://erimo.com/contact-us) for more information on LIFO®, and how it can improve productivity in your business.


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