You probably already know whether you are an introvert or extrovert, your preferred love language, and what Harry Potter house you would belong to, but do you know your communication style?

There are four communication styles in Robert and Dorothy Bolton’s communication styles model, each with its own specialties, stress reaction, and learning preferences.

Looking at the table below, which of these lists best describes you?

If your first reaction is that you fit into more than one list, that can be true. Yes, everyone is unique in their own way so it’s hard to put yourself in “one box.” But the Boltons have discovered that there are similarities in the way people communicate, so everyone has a dominant style. Let’s look at each style in more detail:

  • The words in the upper left corner describe an amiable. Amiables are relationship-oriented, specialize in listening and being supportive, and acquiesce when stressed.
  • The words in the upper right corner describe an expressive. Expressives are social-oriented, specialize in making personal connections and having a lot of energy, and attack when stressed.
  • The words in the lower left corner describe an analytic. Analytics are process-oriented, specialize in fact-finding and methodical processes, and avoid when stressed.
  • Lastly, the words in the lower right corner describe a driver. Drivers are results-oriented, specialize in problem-solving and decision-making, and autocrat when stressed.

Once you have determined your dominant style, it’s crucial to understand how to flex to others to ensure you are communicating effectively based on their characteristics. By understanding my style, I gained self-awareness, allowing me to have more productive conversations in and outside of the workplace. For example, I learned that as an expressive, I can go off on a tangent when talking, which another expressive might enjoy; however, I should try to stick to the point if I’m communicating with an analytic because they don’t like to veer from the facts.

I am also more aware of the communication styles of others. Now, I catch myself trying to diagnose the communication styles of those around me in my personal and professional life. I can’t help but think how useful learning this skill sooner would have been. It can be beneficial during group projects in school, social settings, or conflicts with my friends and family.

It’s been eye-opening to hear how representatives practice self-awareness in our Effortless Experience Capabilities Builder sessions. By knowing their own style and being able to diagnose the customer’s style, they can improve communications by flexing to better meet the needs of the customer. In my first few months, I heard representatives reflect on how conversations with some challenging customers could have gone differently and what they are doing now to enhance the customer experience. A common realization among representatives is that driver customers want to get straight to the point; whereas, amiables are likely to start an interaction by describing the details of their day and why they are reaching out.

Understanding communication styles is so important, it is the first skill we teach representatives because it sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Giving them the tools to identify communication styles through verbal and even nonverbal cues ensures they can effectively interact with customers to deliver a low-effort experience.

Emily Campbell

Emily Campbell is a Manager with Challenger’s Effortless Experience team. In her role, Emily helps client organizations grow in their journeys to becoming low-effort customer service organizations.