Different communication styles – the best communicators know this, so should you (Part 2)

 Jun 10, 2015

In my last blog post of this two part series, I explained the 4 primary communication styles taken from New Horizons' Advanced Interpersonal Communication course. As promised, here's part two, and it's all about secondary communication styles.

When under stress, most people display a secondary communication style that is determined by their primary communication style. Although they vary widely in other attributes, the main characteristic of the secondary styles is inflexibility. There are four secondary communication styles:

  1. Aggressor
  2. Consenter
  3. Avoider
  4. Controller

Acting aggressively is the collaborator’s secondary communication style. Although collaborators are normally people-oriented, they often express their frustrations by verbally attacking others. Belligerence, a loud voice, and emphatic language and gestures characterise aggressive communication. Fortunately, outbursts are rare and usually subside fairly quickly. Once collaborators have vented their frustrations, they are ready to put the incident behind them.

The contributor’s secondary communication style is to consent. Contributors are normally peacemakers, and that characteristic is taken to the extreme when under duress. Contributors become inflexible and unwilling to discuss any problems or situations that might be responsible for their stress. Although outwardly cooperative, contributors show subtle forms of disagreement and frustration in their body language and behaviour, but they are also slow to forgive and forget.

Avoidance is the inquisitor’s secondary communication style. Normally quiet and reserved, inquisitor’s cope with stress by avoiding all emotional expression and contact with others. If emotional withdrawal is ineffective, inquisitors might physically remove themselves from situations.

Controlling is the director’s secondary communication style. Directors are naturally determined, so they become very controlling when under duress. Exercising control over the people around them allows directors to feel that they have control over situations. Whatever emotion a director might normally show is lost when controlling, and they become completely focused on obtaining a specific goal. The already rapid pace of a director’s decision-making process becomes even more rapid when they are under stress, which frustrates people who have other communication styles.

By understanding different communication styles, you can expedite interactions between people because you will not need to repeat, define, and analyse each sentence or phrase. Such understanding affects a company’s bottom line. Miscommunication costs companies by causing errors and misunderstandings costs companies by slowing the production of goods and services.

To conclude, know your primary communication style and try to demonstrate it for as long as you’re alive let alone at work. Also, know your secondary communication style and find ways to get out of it ASAP before you cause too much damage to your co-workers, your team, your clients, your friends, your community, your family, your country, and yourself.

Until next time, stay centered, stay sharp, and stay mindful of others.

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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