How to Successfully Communicate with Different Personalities

April 28, 2021


Communicating clearly, concisely, and confidently is among the top leadership skills employees look for in their hires. When effective, it is an asset that can propel you to success and raise the stature of your credibility and reputation. Communication is also an art, especially when faced with a variety of personalities in the workplace. To get their attention and respect, you must convey your messages with trust, authenticity, and flair.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”   ~ James Humes


There are oodles of personality assessments that help identify personality types that can help you in your quest to communicate in their language like DiSC, Myers Brigg, HEXACO, even “What Color is Your Parachute?” Though, these tests can be quite challenging to figure out who’s got what personality. Another approach is to get to know your co-workers better along with their temperament. This is a leading and preferred method to navigating the waters of communication styles, especially when confronted with conflict. Once you have a clear understanding of how he/she is wired – tightly wound, laid back, outgoing, logical, emotional, to the point, etc. – you can adapt your communication to match their “native” language.

It is important to remember we are all created differently with strengths, weaknesses, goals, motivations, and communication styles. With practice you can effectively communicate and avoid any misunderstandings or defensiveness by tweaking your messaging and mirroring your communication style to match theirs.

Here are tips to get you started to successfully communicate with different personalities.

The Tightly Wound
This personality type comes with a hardened shell and is a bit edgy. They have a difficult time relaxing because they put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect – the classic Type A. They are often stressed and prone to lashing out. When communicating with the tightly wound, wear your empathy hat, and do your best to understand his or her point of view. You don’t necessarily have to agree with what is said, but by acknowledging his/her feelings, you can work wonders in cracking that shell.

The Laid Back
This chill-type personality is not to be misunderstood as lazy without motivation. Quite the contrary. The laid-back co-worker is calm, cool, and collected. They are loyal, team players and good problem solvers. When a special project gets canned, he/she doesn’t go berserk, rather they tend to have a positive outlook and say there’s another great project out there – “No use crying over spilled milk” attitude. Don’t assume the laid-back individual doesn’t care; they are supportive. When carrying on a conversation, avoid aggressiveness or exuding over-the-top high energy. Ask for their input in how they would tackle this or that situation. You’ll likely get a fresh perspective and gain trust and rapport while also building mental toughness.

The Left Brain
the logical personality is one who likes the facts – nothing but the facts. They are not interested in ambiguity, vague commentary, or office gossip. If you want to have a seamless, successful conversation with the left brain co-worker, then be specific and assertive. Focus on the details, include data, deadlines, and leave emotion out of the exchange. The left brain coworker processes information in a logical, analytical, cautious way. Be prepared to discuss details and why they matter. Appeal to their decision-making abilities with specific consideration of options and their implications. Leave any hyper high-energy at your desk.

We’ve all experienced working with the gregarious, super emotional type. They’re the ones who shed tears easily or laugh the loudest. They wear the emotions on their sleeves. Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to show and share your emotions at work when it’s appropriate. That’s the beauty of emotional intelligence. Crying over a discussion with your boss because he said no to a request or constantly chatting and laughing loudly at the water cooler may not be the best way to communicate. Having a conversation with an emotional person requires skill, especially if you’re delivering bad news. Start by showing interest, addressing him/her personally. Give them the big picture and avoid the details. Be your true self and give way to formalities. If you feel comfortable, give him/her a hug or pat on the back. This will help convey you care and value them.

To the Point
The “to the point” personality is known for his/her direct, almost blunt, way of communicating. The direct or dominant type prefers you get to the point right away and skip the small talk and analytics. They want you to be clear, use short sentences and stick to the matter at hand. When sharing a dialog with a dominant personality, don’t lead with emotions, offer excessive details, or take their bluntness personally. Explain to him/her the benefits of the situation and focus on the bottom line. When problem- solving, don’t be afraid to take a stand or defend your points. They will appreciate your direct approach, too. Ultimately, it’s important to recognize his/her directness isn’t an attack on you; it’s how they are wired. Remain confident and objective, and don’t get emotional – you’ll gain respect and resolve.

ImbsWebLI 16About the Author: 
Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.

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