Observation- The Key to Communication
Communication is an art and a science. According to the science behind communication there are 3 key behavioral factors that we use while communicating with the outside world. These three factors are not equal. There is one factor that stands out above the rest. Body Language ranks the highest at 52% of the way we communicate. Tone of voice comes in at a close second with 38%. Last and the least are our words that only carry a whopping 7%.
When it comes to the art of communication it requires a trained eye and ear to distinguish not only what is actually said but also how it is said. Knowing what patterns to observe, how to interpret it and then deciding the best response is what crafts behavioral discernment and delivery in communication. Technical much? Well, like any art form communication has it’s own specific techniques. When you break down the technique and practice it you’re on the path to mastery.
Now that all seems really boring and tedious doesn’t it. I’m glad you agree. Who has time to study every person like a detective? Who would even want to? There is a simpler approach to communication. Thank God for William Marston. He is the psychologist who, in short, invented the idea of Wonder Woman and determined that there are 4 predominant communication styling’s: Dominant, Influencer Steady & Compliant. The cool factor is that each style has distinct traits and more importantly observable body language.
So, wait does this mean that we only have to remember 4 communication styles to be a master of the communication world? Not exactly But what it can mean is that your odds of succeeding in communication is optimized when there are only 4 styles to work with. I'm here to break each one down for you. Keep in mind that communications key factors are observable, if you learn to observe these cues not only in others but also about yourself you could be one of the sharpest communicators out there. Application is key. For brevity I am only going to cover traits, goal focus, body language and tone of voice of each style. See if you can peg yourself out of these four styles.
Trait: Fast past, independent, and goal-oriented
Goal Focus: Solve problems
Body Language: power pose or arms folded across chest. Tends to lean forward while communicating. Squints their eyes while listening to others speak.
Tone of Voice: Loud/booming tone
Trait: Friendly, sporadic, and political
Goal Focus: Engage people
Body Language: demonstrative with facial expression and use of hand gestures while communicating. Fidgets when listening to others.
Tone of Voice: Theatrical tone
Trait: Patient, reliable, modest
Goal Focus: Securing the pace
Body Language: poker face; only uses hand gestures within close proximity of their core. Tilts head while listening to others as a natural non-threatening posture.
Tone of voice: Soft-tone
Trait: Dependent, methodical, perfectionistic
Goal Focus: Following procedures
Body Language: rigid posture; folded arms; furrowed brow while listening to others speak. Has a tendency to nod head when they have understood what is said.
Tone of Voice: Monotone
Never underestimate the power of observation while communicating. If you are curious and want to know what behavioral styling you are my company offers a communication style assessment that can give you that insight (shameless plug). Otherwise practice is key. Begin taking note of how your waiter, coworker, friends, family and even favorite TV characters carry themselves and before long you will be a skilled observer and communicator with those you encounter. For fun I have listed below a few TV characters that fit each behavioral style.
Dominant: Leonard Hofstadter (Big Bang Theory), Professor Wells (The Flash), Nurse Crane (Call the Midwife)
Influencer: Howard Wolowitz (Big Bang Theory), Barry Allen (The Flash), Nurse Trixie (Call the Midwife)
Steady: Raj Koothrappali (Big Bang Theory), Caitlin Snow (The Flash), Nurse Chummy (Call the Midwife)
Compliant: Sheldon Cooper (from Big Bang Theory), Cisco Ramon (from the Flash), Sister Julienne (Call the Midwife)
Typically you will gravitate towards one or two as your leading communication styles. The key is to first identify you. Then begin to notice how those closest to you communicate. The idea to adapting is more than just mirroring them. It’s taking note of their need. I had a wise mentor tell me once “Communicate with people how THEY want to be communicated with not how you want to be communicated with.” So essentially you’re practicing the art of observing to assess what’s needed, and then applying it by adapting to their style for greatest connection. So what are you waiting for! Start practicing for your success in communication today!