CHAPTER 2:  COMMUNICATION STYLES

 

P1, S2, T4

 

 

Introduction

 

            Effective communication is the primary vehicle by which salespeople first establish relationships with their potential customers and, through the power of this relationship, create an environment within which the customer is receptive to hearing the saleSpersonís presentation.  In other words, if relationships are at least amicable, then the salesperson has a much greater chance that his or her message will be listened to by the customer.

 

            An understanding of the communication styles of both the salesperson and the customer is mandatory in order to manage the relationship building mentioned above.  While it would be hypocritical and, perhaps, obvious if the salesperson copied the communication style of his or her customer while dealing with them, moderating oneís style to better fit the customer is simply good strategy.

 

Communication-Style Bias

 

            This is a state of mind that almost every one of us experiences from time-to-time.  It develops when we have contact with another person whose communication style is different from our own.  Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to talk with some  people and so easy to talk with others?  If your style is very different from the other personís, it may be difficult for the two of you to develop rapport (a relationship).  It may not be able to radically change your preferred and dominant communication style, but it is possible to modify your style to better fit with the other person especially if you have an interest in creating an atmosphere of mutual acceptance.  The key is to first recognize the four communication-style dimensions.

 

Communication-Style Dimensions

 

            Based on two continuums (see Figure 1):

 

 

                                                                                                  High

 

SUPPORTIVE STYLE

 

 

Low

Social

 

           EMOTIVE STYLE

 

 

                                                                                                  High

Dominance

 

REFLECTIVE STYLE

                                                                                                   Low

 

                                                                                         Dominance

 

                                             DIRECTOR STYLE

Social

 

FIGURE 1

 

 The two continuum scales are: (a) Social Scale and (b) Dominance Scale.  If you take a test on these indicators, you could rank yourself on each of the scales.  If you were high on the social and high on the dominance scale, you would find yourself located as an Emotive Style. Remember that each of us has a dominant style that usually exhibits itself when we are under stress. Yet, each of us has the ability to move around, somewhat, within the four dimensions of communication-styles. 

 

Four Communication-Styles

 

            Supportive Style. High social and low dominance. 

 

1.         Gives the appearance of being quiet and reserved.  Can easily display their feelings, but not in the assertive manner common to the Emotive.

 

2.         Listens attentively to other people.  In selling, listening is very important and this talent comes naturally to the Supportive.

 

3.         Tends to avoid the use of power.  The Director may rely on power to get things done, while the supportive is more likely to rely on friendly persuasion.

 

4.         Makes decisions in a thoughtful and deliberate manner.  The Supportive usually take longer to make a decision.

 

Example:  Counselors

 

            Emotive Style.  High social and high dominance.

 

1.            Appears quite active.  The Emotive gives the appearance of being busy.  They are often restless appearing.  The Emotive is likely to expres feelings with vigorous movements of the hands and a rapid speech pattern.

 

2.         Takes the social initiative in most cases.  The Emotive is usually the one to shake hands first as well as initiate and maintain the conversation.

 

3.         Likes to encourage familiarity.  Moves to a ďfirst nameĒ quickly (sometimes too fast).  They even try to communicate a preference for a relaxed, informal social setting often by the casual way they sit in a chair.

 

4.            Expresses emotional opinions.  They donít hide their feelings.  They often express opinions dramatically and impulsively.

 

Example:  Talkshow host,

 

            Director Style.  Low social and high dominance.

 

1.            Appears to be quite busy.  The Director does not like to waste time and wants to get right to the point.

 

2.         May give the impression of not listening.  He usually feels more comfortable in talking than listening.

3.            Displays a serious attitude.  Usually communicates a lack of warmth and is apt to be quite businesslike and impersonal.

 

4.         Voices strong opinions.  He usually wants to influence the other personís point-of-view.

 

Example:  Head coach of football team

 

            Reflective Style.  High social and low dominance.

 

1.            Controls emotional expression.  The Reflective tends to curb emotional expression and is less likely to display warmth openly.

 

2.            Displays a preference for orderliness.  Enjoys a highly structured enviroment and generally feels frustration when confronted with unexpected events.

 

3.         Tends to express measured opinions.  Usually does not express dramatic opinions.  Disciplined, businesslike actions describe the Reflective.

 

4.         Seems difficult to get to know.  Tends to be somewhat formal in social relationships and therefore is viewed as aloof by many people.

 

Example:  Scientist

 

A Word of Caution

 

            It is tempting to put a label on someone and then assume the label tells you everything that you need to know about that person.  If you want to build an effective relationship with someone (say a potential customer), then you must acquire additional information about that person.  It requires real effort to look beyond the label and to experience the whole person as a dynamic process. 

 

Remember that the above styles are broad and usually indicate the preferred style used by a person.  That person has the capability and often moves around his or her preferred style depending on the circumstances and roles they may be in at any given time. 

 

Summary

 

            First understanding that people have different communication-styles goes along way in helping with interpersonal relationships.  Generally, one should recognize and respect the style of the other person.  Then one should modify their own style (reduce a preferred style in its intensity).  People like to deal with others that they perceive as similar to themselves.  It is hypocritical and impossible (unless you are a consummate actor/actress) to completely adopt the other personís style, yet mirroring it is an effective strategy if you want to help develop a relationship.