Communication Skills

It’s important to understand that your style of communication is not your personality; it’s simply the way you deliver and process messages. It’s your language.


There are 4 communication styles that we use when we communicate with one another:

  • Faster-Paced with a Task Priority
  • Faster-Paced with a People Priority
  • Slower-Paced with a People Priority
  • Slower-Paced with a Task Priority

comm styles

Usually, only two out of ten people are fluent in all four communication styles. Most of us tend to take a little bit from each, and create our own unique style. Let’s take a look at each of these communication styles and think of each as a communication language.

Faster-Paced With a Task Priority

People who prefer this “language” are task-oriented. They process messages rapidly in task-related language, but don’t always catch all of the details.

They focus in on the bottom right corner of any spreadsheet or contract—where the totals and sums are located. They truly are bottom-line communicators.

These are the questions in the heads of fast-paced communicators:

  • What do you want?
  • What do you need?
  • Why are we doing this?
  • How are we doing this?
  • What are the end results?

When engaged in a conversation, they may shoot off rapid-fire queries such as the ones above in an effort to get to the facts.

As a result, they’re perceived as being too abrupt. When you’re talking to them, they process only two to three words per sentence. All they hear is the purpose, process, and payoff of your message.

Fast Task

How to connect: These communicators respond best when you talk about challenges, support their ideas, get to the point, show results and are assertive.

Faster-Paced With a People Priority

This language is very spontaneous. The speaker begins each interaction with a social greeting and chitchat, and then transitions to the topic that needs to be discussed.

This type of communication involves asking for ideas and best processes positive statements like targets, goals, and solutions. This language doesn’t like to hear about what’s not working.

Communicators who fall under this category are frequently jumping to conclusions. They will swear that they told you something that never came out of their mouths.

Those who do not process this language tend to view this style of communicator as fluffy or of little substance.

They leave the conversation thinking:

  • Did they really understand what I was saying?
  • Will they follow through? Is this for real?
  • Where does all this chit chat come from?

This particular language is the most misunderstood because it does not process negatives.

Fast People

How to connect: This type responds to favorable recognition. Spend time with them, make them a priority and involve them in creative projects such as problem solving. Communicate what you want, not what you don’t like.

Slower-Paced With a People Priority

If you can’t quite figure out what type of processor a team member is, then the answer is they probably speak this language. Users of this language are often viewed as very difficult to read because they don’t express themselves well.

They tend to listen too much. Although they are excellent listeners, any strength that is overused runs the risk of becoming a weakness.

Because these people are quiet and reserved, other team members talk over them, and they just let it happen. They rarely ask questions, preferring that someone else be in control of the conversation.

Related:  When Leadership Strengths become Weaknesses - Part 2

For the most part, the slower-paced people processor keeps quiet and lets others—who don’t deal well with silence—tell them what to do, thus perpetuating the softer image that they already project.

Team members who don’t process in this manner often feel that this communicator is amiable, shy and passive – someone who really doesn’t have much to offer. They question this communicator’s participation level, which is a common misconception.

Slower People

How to connect: Because communicators of this language best process stability statements, you can engage them with reassurances such as, “Everything is okay,” “Let’s just start with the first piece” or “Let’s break this into steps.”

Ask questions about their personal lives or work situation, and let them talk. You can also deal with their strong need for cooperation and harmony by giving them new information first.

Slower-Paced With a Task Priority

People who fall under this category like to communicate by e-mail because it gives them time to process messages and study them in advance. They don’t process very easily face to face. They prefer to pore over details, facts, figures and data instead.

If people like this are in sales, they will frequently e-mail the decision makers in advance and can even close a sale without having to meet with the prospective client face to face.

If this isn’t your language, you may view people like this as distant, and feel as though you’re being interrogated every time you interact with them. Because they’re very serious about their interactions, people usually use a social exchange to try to lighten them up. But this is the worst thing you can do. Trying to reach them on a personal level guarantees they may not hear you.

Slow Task

How to connect: The best way to communicate is to give them the credit and let them be the expert. Know your stuff, and only go face to face when there’s a misunderstanding. It’s important to be prepared; whatever you say needs to be accurate.

Don’t ever communicate something to these individuals that you don’t intend to do or that you’re not sure is correct. If you do, you’re guaranteed an instant disconnect.

Are you beginning to see what a major breakthrough this process can be when it comes to the lack of communication in your organization? When you start focusing on others’ communication styles, you will achieve a higher level of communication right away—especially at home!

A President of one of our client companies told us, “It’s really working with my kids. I’m connecting with them better than ever because I present my message with the right pace and priority!”

How Do You Use Your Communication Skills to Connect?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and founder of the About Leaders community and drMaryKay.com. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained thousands of leaders. Her Ultimate Leader Online course helps managers become more confident, decisive leaders. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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