Communication Styles

Written by: Alan Rodway

It’s important to understand how human beings are ‘wired’ to communicate. There are three predominant communication styles and every one of us has a natural preference for one of them … Auditory, Kinesthetic or Visual.

This means that, whilst we all can and do communicate with others via all three, we are ‘wired’ to prefer one style above the other two. (Sometimes, an individual can have a preference for either of two of the above over the other one).

Auditory communication involves the transfer of information through listening to words being spoken to yourself and others.

Kinesthetic communication involves physical experience … in two ways … touch or movement.

Visual communication is via written words or things that are seen such as pictures, imaginings and film.

Auditory communicators use words like ‘loud and clear’, hum or talk when bored, are good listeners, note what they have heard, remember names well, deal well with verbal instructions, remember what people say, love music and prefer audio programs.

Kinesthetic communicators use wording like ‘I feel’ and ‘Get a grip’, enjoy working with their hands, use frequent hand gestures when talking, remember by doing rather than seeing or hearing, lose concentration when not stimulated from the external, and use experience to solve problems.

Visual communicators use wording like “I see what you mean’ and ‘I can imagine that’, remember what they read, remember faces and images well, enjoy art and movies, write things down to remember them and enjoy observing.

Further …. when trying to recall or retain information …… Auditory people tend to look sideways, Visual people look up and Kinesthetics look to the lower right.

The wording we use is a good sign of which style a person prefers, as per the following examples. Auditory: “hear, sounds, rings a bell, tongue tied, within hearing range, manner of speaking”. Visual: “see, mental picture, appears to be, make a scene, look”. Kinesthetic: “feel, get in touch, pain in the neck, go hand in hand, get a grip”.

So what’s the significance of all of this? Imagine someone who is predominantly an ‘Audio’ communicating with a ‘Visual’, and neither realizes what he / she is nor what the other is. It would go something like this …. “I want to tell you about the new product and explain its features” says the Audio. “Ok” says the Visual, with some disconnect, because they prefer Visual. “It can do all of the things the old version can do as well as three new exciting features that make it much more powerful” says the Audio. “Umm, can you show me how it works?” says the Visual, now struggling with only verbal descriptions and has nothing to picture, see or imagine. The Audio continues to talk and the Visual continues to struggle.. This happens so often when presenters, business people and sales people want to leap straight to Powerpoint or iPads to illustrate things … The Audios can start dropping off quickly if the predominance remains visual. The Audio needs to ‘hear it, say it, explain it, tell it’. The Visual needs to ‘see it, imagine it, make pictures about it’.

Imagine someone who is predominantly Kinesthetic communicating with a Visual, and neither realizes what he / she is nor what the other is. The Kinesthetic needs to touch and experience movement whereas the Visual just needs pictures, diagrams, etc.

There are two critical points to make about all this …. make sure you know how you are wired for communication, so you don’t impose that on other people and their style preferences. And make sure you are aware of the communication style preference of people you are in communication with.

People who can consciously communicate within another person’s style are way more likely to more effective in their communication, influence better and connect more strongly.

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