How To Communicate With Different Personality Types
If we want to move projects, buy-in is essential. And in order to get buy-in, we need to communicate our ideas, results, and data effectively because we can’t afford to let our message fall flat.
In fact, 86% of employees and executives say the main cause of workplace failure is a lack of communication and collaboration. So, it probably isn’t surprising that 80% of US employees say ineffective company communication causes workplace anxiety.
The good news is that we can all learn to communicate more effectively, which increases trust, connection, productivity (in some cases by 25%), and retention while respecting the different styles of communication that our colleagues prefer.
The 4 Different Personality Types
My clients love when I share these four personality types because they quickly see that by adjusting how they present information, they can communicate clearly and effectively with all their colleagues.
These personality types are based on the Motivational Value System (MVS) used in the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI 2.0). Our motivations help us filter information, choose behaviors, and determine our preferred communication style. By understanding the motivations that shape our behaviors, we can increase our relationships awareness, build empathy and communicate more effectively.
The People-Oriented Type
The number one motivation for this personality is supporting others. These folks are quick to defend the rights of others and love to see others reach their potential. They’re open and responsive to others' needs and often try to make things easier for everyone.
This personality type wants to connect personally. Spend some time just chit-chatting, asking about or sharing feelings, or expressing empathy.
When you’re presenting information, speak to the impact on people (how will it help or support, how will they feel, etc.). When communicating with this personality type, listen actively, check in with what you’re hearing, and ask questions.
The Performance-Oriented Type
The number one motivation for this personality is accomplishing tasks and achieving results. They love to accept challenges and are quick to take on responsibilities and positions of leadership. They’re competitive, persuasive, and prefer taking immediate action. They don’t shy away from risks and see them as necessary and even desirable. No risk, no reward, right?
When presenting your ideas to people with a Performance MVS, lead with the results. Be concise and to the point. Point out the advantage to that particular person, team, or organization. Respond to their questions succinctly. They’ll ask for more information if they need it.
The Process-Oriented Type
This personality loves to think through everything before they act. They want to establish and maintain meaningful order - effective policies and procedures, a repeatable process, and everything in its place. They’re cautious, thorough, objective, principled, practical, and fair. They’re serious and control their emotions.
It’s important to understand that this personality will need time to make a decision, so you need to plan accordingly. It’s best to send data ahead of time for them to process. Slow down and give them a deep dive on how you arrived where you are (show ALL your math). Concentrate on facts, not emotions. It doesn’t mean they’re not paying attention if they're reticent. It can just be a sign that they’re processing.
The Change-Oriented Type
This personality is a combination of the three personality styles above. They can approach the topic from any viewpoint. They’re flexible and adaptable and can be a chameleon. They love to look at all the pros and cons or play devil’s advocate. They’re open-minded and curious about what others think and feel.
They’re interested in people, performance and process, so speak to all of these aspects. They love to consider multiple viewpoints and ensure people have been read in and involved. Speak to inclusivity (for example, you involved a lot of people) and highlight your desire to make something better (to be more flexible, resilient, or improved).
Not Sure What Motivational Value System Someone Has?
Ask them what they did last weekend. You’ll likely hear it in the answer...
People-focused personalities will talk about relationships and connecting with people. Perhaps how they supported someone or what a deep or meaningful conversation they had. They may share how they have been in service to someone or something, but in a humble way.
Performance-focused personalities will highlight their accomplishments. The story will be about all they got done, a big score, or a win of some kind. For example, I completely cleaned out the garage, I ran my best 5K, or I scored an amazing steal at Nordstrom Rack. These folks are focused on results, not the experience, and usually, it’s in some way about competition (even against themselves) or winning.
Process-focused personalities will give you a very, very detailed response (so make sure you have time!). You’ll likely hear about the things someone did in order throughout the weekend. Or at least a part of it. How they did something will likely be a big part of the story or something they changed or improved. They’ll probably not share a lot about feelings but will concentrate on the facts and may even pause to ensure they relate the story correctly.
Change-focused personalities might tell you about something new or different they did. They may talk about having plans for one thing and then spontaneously doing something else. They may talk about being involved in something with a group or other people and will also tell you what they did and why - or why it was such a success.
Not all folks of this type are extroverts, so listen for language focused on people (or feelings) in conjunction with some kind of process or information and, of course, results. When you hear all of the above in one response (or even one sentence!), you're likely talking to someone with a Change MVS.
Some people are a combination of two types. For example, people and results. In this case, this person might be motivated by helping people achieve results or using people to achieve results. You would likely hear a combination of that focus when they were speaking. And you’d want to address both aspects when you communicate with them.
We all have different points of view, motivations, and behavior patterns that affect how we receive and process information and communicate with others. And most of us naturally default to the style of communication most aligned with our MVS, unless we have put great effort into presenting in a different way.
The goal is to understand what our preference is (and the preference of those around us) so we can communicate more effectively and customize how we talk to different people using the lens through which they view and understand the world and what’s important to them.
Understanding these four personalities also gives us a model we can use to speak to the whole room when we’re in a larger group setting. Knowing how to communicate with all four can shape the way we present information and ensure we have all our bases covered.
Now that you know a bit more about these different personality types, we hope you’ll apply what you’ve learned. You may want to begin at home and broaden your experience from there. We’d love to hear how it goes!
Whether you’re expanding capacity, navigating change, chaos, or cultural evolution, we work with different personality types at all levels so they can learn and grow together. Please reach out to us if you're interested in our team / group coaching services or team accelerator programs.