Communicating with people who are wildly different to us can be stressful. How will they react? What if they make us uncomfortable?
As a training company, one of the most common fears we hear about from participants at our Management, Talent & Leadership Development programs is trying to influence someone who is more extraverted, louder, more direct than they are. What can we do to bridge this gap and make these interactions more productive and less anxiety-ridden?
There are many personality models around, some of which go into great detail, but to keep things simple, ask yourself these three questions about the person you're about to speak to:
1. Are they relationship-focused or task-focused?
Do they value the relationships they form or do they concentrate more on the projects and tasks they are working on? Once you know that, you can present your argument or impacts in terms that will resonate with them more readily.
e.g. "This will really get the team energised and they'll appreciate your support on this"
"This will open up the project with this client and I think there are more projects we can get involved in here"
2. Are they more concerned with the big-picture or the details?
Do they just want the headlines or do they want to see all your working? This can be vital. Decide how you'll present your findings, with either the main points up front or perhaps a longer, more detailed outline of how you reached your conclusion.
3. How do they communicate?
Are they loud and fast? Or quieter and slower? Do they need thinking time or do they want the info as quick as possible? Once you know, try to adopt a little of that in your communication to bridge the gap. Maybe hold the silence for longer than usual or up the volume slightly.
These 3 things together can help build rapport with those around you and importantly, help you reduce the anxiety around communicating with those who are so different to you.