When it comes to communicating with your people, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. You can’t just communicate your message with everybody in your same old typical way—your trademark way you’re famous for (or infamous) for. You can’t expect your message to be received just because it’s important to you.
Well, you can, but it won’t work. No one will want to work with you or collaborate with you or be influenced by you. They’ll avoid your company. They’ll find reasons not to attend meetings you set up.
And they won’t answer your emails. They’ll ghost you on a regular basis—as you’ve noticed.
Got your attention? A little background is helpful here.
Everyone wants to be communicated with in certain ways
What I’m talking about here is called Relationship Versatility. Every person has certain needs, expectations, and preferences when it comes to communication in the workplace. More than 40 years of research with more than 2 million people worldwide has shown that everyone more or less fits into one of four Social Styles. In our Building Relationships Versatility training, we refer to them as Analyticals, Expressives, Amiables, and Drivers. The differences between them are evidenced by the ways they are perceived when they assert themselves to influence others and how they’re perceived when they express their feelings.
For example, Analyticals don’t appreciate it—they shut down, in fact—when others are directive and overly personal (as opposed to “strictly business”). Meanwhile, Amiables place a high priority on “getting along,” and they’ll speak slowly and softly, with open and eager facial expressions.
In our training, we teach you and your team to identify others’ styles and then make slight adjustments in your own behaviors in order to make people receptive to your message. For example, if you’re communicating with someone you’ve identified as a Driver, they’re not interested in small talk and want to get to the goal as soon as possible.
Versatility is the skill of making slight adjustments in your own behaviors in order to make other people open to your message. You learn to read those cues through personal interactions over a period of time.
But how does this all shake out in emails?
Do your homework about the person you want to email. Adapt your email to their style
First off, the following assumes you’ve done the hard work of identifying a particular person’s style. You do this by paying attention to their behaviors—body language, tone of voice—and not what you think they’re thinking. It takes practice. Focus on what you can see. You’re probably not going to determine a person’s style from just one interaction. It takes practice to look for the subtle cues. For example, the way one person leans in when they talk or how another person speaks at a fast clip.
Get ready. It will call on you to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. It’s a given that your own style will be a mismatch for most people you’ll encounter in your workday.
Understanding others’ styles—how they want to be communicated with—and modifying your communication behaviors to account for their needs and preferences is the essence of Relationship Versatility.
In the training, you will learn how to “read” other people’s styles and adapt your normal behaviors to improve the chances of building a productive working relationship—and making a difference in the organization.
Don’t rely on your title to get people to open your email
With this “prep work” done, you can tailor your email to their Social Style. Minor—yet strategic—modifications can go a long way. To wit:
When you’re emailing Analyticals . . .
Analyticals are deliberate, thorough, and inclined to follow the guidelines. They tend to weigh all alternatives extra carefully. Their world moves slowly, precisely, and predictably. So:
- Stick to just facts and data. Your opinion isn’t relevant. They’ll make up their minds based on what the particulars say.
- Provide attachments for more detail. Analyticals love details.
- And, of course, check for spelling and grammar. One misspelling and you’ve lost all credibility.
When you’re emailing Expressives . . .
Expressives are energetic and enthusiastic—quick to speak and somewhat reluctant to give up the floor when they are engaged in a conversation. Intuition plays a major role in decision-making by Expressives. They tend to go with their gut. So:
- Ask for their ideas. Show you genuinely value their opinion. (Expressives love recognition.)
- Bullet-point details, but keep them few in number—perhaps varying colors and fonts.
- Don’t be shy about using exclamation marks.
When you’re emailing Amiables . . .
Amiables focus on harmony and compatibility and strive to make sure everyone’s needs are met, often focusing more on the people than the task at hand. So:
- Adopt a friendly tone, starting by asking how they are doing. Relationship comes first with Amiables.
- Make small talk.
- Ask for their help.
- Use emoticons.
When you’re emailing Drivers . . .
Drivers are all about the task at hand and telling others how to achieve the goal. Results are what matter, so they are prone to “taking charge.” So:
- Don’t worry about your greeting. Get to the point. Business comes before relationships.
- Keep the message short and to the point. Ask direct, short questions with a formal tone.
- Be accurate.
It’s hard work, identifying other’s Social Style based on small cues they give out. It takes practice. But if you invest the time and learn their style, you will be able to adjust your emails—an d your days of being ghosted will be over.
Intrigued by my comments on style and effective communication? Do you notice a lot of miscommunication on your team? It’s fixable! Learn More…
Feel free to reach out. Oh, and by the way- if you know someone that could use this advice, feel free to invite them to sign up for the blog.