All of us are dealing with an increase in stressors due to the enormous amount of change over the last few months. The “COVID-normal” dictates more time with immediate family members, less time with people outside our inner circle and significant changes in how we communicate. Quality interactions have never been more important and the emotional intelligence skill of communication flexing should be in your repertoire.
Communication flexing is adjusting your own communication style to the style of those around you to create rapport. There are four categories of communication style:
- Amiable – Friendly and Harmonious
- Analytical – Methodical and Reason-Driven
- Expressive – Excitable and People-Oriented
- Driver – Stoic and Result-Driven
Most of us have characteristics in more than one style but we have a default. You are likely thinking about your partner, co-workers and friends trying to identify their style. The style of a person is important to understand but how you effectively manage and leverage styles is what really matters. Emotional intelligence has many pillars with self-awareness, empathy, and social skills as fundamentals.
I participated in a mandatory workplace session on communication flexing a number of years ago. When the session was scheduled, I immediately thought about what I could accomplish in the 2.5 hours the session would remove from my day. I was a reluctant participant (I am a Driver … more on that later) but flexing turned out to be one of the most impactful skills I use to refine my personal and professional relationships.
When I completed my assessment in the session, I had a default style of Driver and a secondary style of Driver. I was the only participant out of 125+ employees with this style. Immediately, I recognized that if I was going to foster successful relationships and build strong teams, I had to put what I learned into practice.
I started with very small changes such as frequently chatting with team members who were Amiable and Expressive. I shared the “why” in detail with the analytics and kept my communication with the Drivers short and to the point (no problem there). It is important to realize there is no right or wrong style and flexing is situational. There is no singular approach and it is paramount to understand we all hear and interpret the same thing differently. I continued to build on what I learned which was not always easy or enjoyable since you must be committed and present in the moment. You are never done with flexing; the path to greater self-awareness is achievable with agility, discipline, and a desire to build meaningful rapports with others.
There are many communication flexing resources online and I encourage you to take the time to explore. Virtual Happy Hour with friends or co-workers would be a fun setting to complete the assessment, determine styles, share stories of past interactions that are bound to have “AH-HA moments”, and talk about ways to put what you learned into motion. Reap the rewards of more positive interactions and strive to be a better communicator. Flex your emotional intelligence and enjoy the journey.
Stay well and Namaste!
Written by Sheila Miles-Dial, Director of Provider Relations