Communicate How They Want to be Communicated to, Not How You Want to be Communicated to…


I used to think it was not what I said – it’s what you heard!

Now I know I’m responsible for exactly what you hear, because of what I’ve said or how I’ve said it.

Everyone is made up of a series of reactions to past events. Events are burnt into memory with emotion. So tonality, language, delivery, volume or body language can instantly have meaning, and rather than the person you’re talking to (say a team member or employee) hearing what you feel is a simple piece of advice or instruction – it’s quite possible you’ve just recreated one of the most horrific moments (thought to be forgotten by said team player) in that person’s lifetime.

Real or not. The emotion makes it real. And you had no idea you did it!


Team member thinks you’re an a*$!hole and isn’t going to get the (or any) task done that you want.

In fact, at that this stage, the only way to make it happen is to lead through by either fear or title. Both of which are detrimental to cultivating any long-term culture. Otherwise, you can follow company disciplinary procedures and it can become an HR issue. Or you can send the team member for counselling or to something like Landmark.

What makes a good leader and effective communicator, can be as simple as getting to know what one of the four main personality types are, and establish if who is what ‘colour’ in their team (this can be used for marketing too which I’ll discuss here).

We use there are several more in-depth and fun ones too. In fact, the whole team exercise can become quite a bonding one too. We use this as part of our interview process. We even notice patterns that leaders tend to be red, marketeers yellow, customer services blue, and managers or even engineers green.

You need the balance and blend of all the personality types to perform the roles and responsibilities of any company or project and each of these needs to be managed in the right way as well as being rewarded in the right way. But, most importantly in order for you to get the most out your team- you MUST adjust your communication to one of four ways to inspire and motivate – and more importantly so that they hear your request/instruction, exactly how you intended. Go on the website and do the test – get your partner to as well.


RED type – Results based. Cut to the chase. Start middle and end. Bullets points – just tell me what I need to know!  I’m not interested in the story

BLUE type – Emotional reasons, responses and reactions, they feel everything and see all sides. Understand the why. It will take time and they often bottle things up.

GREEN type – They need the answer to every single question, even hypothetical ones before even starting something. If they don’t know the outcome it’s difficult (and therefore frustrating for you) for them to even start a project, they never have enough data or analysis, and they HAVE to start at the beginning and complete every step until they get to the end (verifying at every stage).

YELLOW type – 100 ideas a second (rarely fully formed) but need the help of a red and green to implement and wade through the unnecessary. These guys are the most creative and energetic- always about the experience, and not just their own.

If you can recognise what the communication style is that your team member needs, adjust your communication (and bite your tongue when necessary)- you will get the result you want, you will be seen to understand better and therefore be seen as a more effective leader or as a human rather than a title. Your team will be more productive, you will reach your goals faster and almost everyone will live happily ever after- well its impossible not to slip into old habits on occasion.

Blog originally published here.

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