In business, the way that we communicate with our colleagues plays a key role in our ability to achieve goals and advance our careers. For startup founders or others in management positions, your ability to communicate may be the most important skill that you possess. Leadership is all about great communication. Most of us know what it is like to work for someone that lacks communication skills — it can be frustrating and momentum-killing.

Understanding how we communicate is important for identifying areas for improvement and working well with our colleagues. Understand that actual words are just a small portion of how we communicate with our associates on a daily basis. Much of what we are communicating is ingrained in our actions, non-verbal cues, and behavior while communicating.

The different types of common business communications include:

  • Verbal Communication. The conversations that we have face-to-face in the office or over the phone with colleagues. Using verbal in-person communication can help to clear up misunderstandings. The emphasis on focusing on one another helps to promote a feeling of value and importance.
  • Non-Verbal Communication. Your body language and facial expressions. They play a vital role in how effective or ineffective you are at communicating with your teams and colleagues. Understanding how to convey your meaning while backing it up with proper non-verbal communication cues is important for driving home a larger point in a believable way.
  • Written and Electronic Communication. In your place of work, you likely send dozens (or hundreds) of emails each and every week. In written communication, it is common for recipients to try to read between the lines or look for implied meaning. Understanding how to write clearly and succinctly is important in a business setting.

In business, if you’ve ever delivered a powerful argument and found that it went mostly unnoticed, there is a good chance that you did not communicate effectively in one of the above types of communication.

Instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of communication, let’s take a look at how these different types of communication can play a role in the different of business communication styles in the workplace. Understanding the different styles is important not only for tailoring your own communications but for communicating with others that use these styles.

Analytical Communication Style

Those that communicate with an analytical style prefer to work from data and facts and use them to support what they say. Analytical communicators are often common in upper-management types. While it may seem less personal, analytical communication is a great way to make solid arguments for initiatives that you believe in. Analytical communicators use very precise and rehearsed language to make their points.

The analytical communication style can be a very effective one in business settings. A few core concepts of the analytical style for communicating in, or with people who use the style:

  • Use numbers to back up your points. While other styles might want a more top-down view of the company’s status, analytical communicators prefer hard facts and numbers to display the point.
  • Use logic instead of emotions. Analytical communicators will always prefer to use logic instead of emotions to make their points. Major business decisions with this group must always include hard facts that help to demonstrate their point of view.
  • A lack of small-talk. Analytical communicators aren’t generally the best conversationalists on the personal level. Limit small talk to communicate effectively with analytical-style communicators.

The analytical communication style is a popular and effective one in business settings but can be seen as a bit impersonal to those that communicate using other styles.

Intuitive Communication Style

Those that use the intuitive communication style prefer a more casual, common-sense based approach to communicating ideas. They want to understand the big-picture concepts and aren’t interested in getting too bogged down in the details of the idea. In many ways, intuitive communicators are the opposite of analytical communicators, who prefer to have all of the relevant details on hand when making a decision.

Some of the core principles of the intuitive communication style include:

  • Short and direct instructions. Intuitive communicators want a broad overview or step-by-step instructions, without all of the distractions that small details can present. When communicating with people that prefer this style, limit what you give them only to what will pertain directly to them. They want to know why you have chosen this path in a big picture way.
  • Big ideas come from intuitive communicators. Intuitive communicators are comfortable forming and working with big ideas. They prefer unconventional thinking at times. Give them the opportunity to express their ideas and have them taken seriously, and they will be happier in the workplace.
  • Intuitive communicators generally prefer visuals. Intuitive communicators like to have the ideas they are discussing visualized. Using Organimi to create org charts can be a great way to visualize the structure of a company for intuitive communicators.

Working with intuitive communicators requires that you take a step back and evaluate the subjects that you discuss from a common-sense perspective. They are comfortable with big ideas but may prefer a visual representation of the subjects that you discuss in meetings.

Functional Communication Style

Functional communicators prefer to focus on the process as a whole. They will take the time to put together a step-by-step plan for their tasks and projects to ensure that nothing gets missed. If you want to communicate in the functional style or work with people who do, keep things facts in mind to tailor your communication to their style for an effective outcome:

  • Complete plans. Functional communicators like to have the full plans laid out in front of them, preferably step-by-step. Give them time to review a process before you begin implementing it. They want to have a complete understanding of their responsibilities, timelines, and other information to ensure that they have a complete grasp of the project.
  • Ask questions. Functional communicators will ask a lot of questions. They will connect with leadership styles that allow them to ask questions and receive thoughtful answers in return.
  • Feedback plays a big role. Functional communicators rely on feedback from their peers to improve over time. They may ask for feedback from those that use other business communication styles to see things from another perspective.

Functional communicators are all about developing a complete understanding of projects before they begin. They also gravitate toward questions and feedback, which can help others better understand the projects in question.

Personal Communication Style

Personal communicators put the focus on relationships and emotions. They form connections with their colleagues to better understand what they are thinking. There are a few points that need to be taken into account when working with personal communicators to ensure a successful outcome:

  • Speak in-person whenever possible. Personal communicators react more positively to personal communications. They want to know how you think and feel and are less concerned with the details. Communicating through email can be an aggravating experience for them.
  • Lay your feelings out. Personal communicators feel better when they know how you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to give them a straight-answer regarding how you are feeling about a project or subject. Take the time to let them into your thoughts to develop a better connection with personal communicators.

A Melting Pot of Business Communication Styles

Your average company is a melting pot of business communication styles. Everyone has their own preferred way to communicate. The differences in the way that people communicate can lead to some squabbles within a company, but training your teams to communicate effectively and recognize the different styles can be a low-cost way to improve your organization across the board.