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Read people quickly to improve communication – no crystal ball required

At the core of any successful relationship and the key for us all to improve communication lies that old chestnut – good rapport. With good rapport comes trust and openness swiftly followed by meaningful conversations and understanding.

We all know that this is the ideal scenario for a consultant/client relationship, but not all of us possess the skills to shortcut the process to improve communication. For the consultant, this can mean lost opportunities to get to the real issues quickly and potentially return work once you do get there. The consultant can find themselves creating different disputes and unfortunately adding to the disputes that are the real issue for the company they are there to support.

Do you recognise any of these people & which best describes you?

1. The Activist: learns by having a go; wants to have a go now; frustrated by debate; doesn’t worry about making mistakes.
2. The Reflector: Likes experiences where they have time to assimilate information before making a judgement. They don’t like to make mistakes and can come across like they procrastinate. They like things to be perfect and don’t want to be rushed.
3. The Theorist: They like to integrate logic into sound theories; they like to work through step by step. Unstructured situations cause them anxiety.
4. The Pragmatist: Likes things to have very clear practical value and likes to test ideas. ‘Good enough’ will suffice. The activities need to have an immediate purpose; they do not want to have to keep refining what they do and find theoretical discussions tedious.

A word of warning – there are no good or bad styles. The styles reflect how a person learns – that person could be you learning about the client business – or a client learning about how to change what they do. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, if you are an activist talking to a theorist you will probably really annoy each other and build up a barrier for you to improve communication instantly. If you want someone to do something because of what you say, then you need to say it in a way that they will listen and be ready to react; lack of awareness of this leads to many frustrating conversations. Try and tune in first of all to yourself and then to others.

For further information, research ‘Honey and Mumford’ Learning Styles.

Penny Whitelock FinstLM


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