How Personality Impacts Communication Styles

by Spark + Buzz
May 27, 2020

Have you ever felt like you hit a brick wall when communicating with a colleague? Or that your intentions are often misinterpreted? Take heart, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad communicator. It is more likely that your communication style is clashing with the person you are so desperately trying to communicate with.

The spice of life is that we are all different, with unique viewpoints, interests and personalities.  That in and of itself leads to communication conflict. Sometimes, what we interpret as conflict with colleagues is really rooted in differing communication styles, that are further impacted by our personalities and perception.

While few research studies have been able to prove whether personality styles directly impact performance, a 2015 Penn State University study examined how personality affects communication among team members, thereby impacting performance. The results showed that the performance of a team can be determined by communication between team members. If that’s not a business case for intentionally enhancing communication among coworkers, I don’t know what is.

Spark + Buzz Communications recently had the opportunity to help a client enhance both interpersonal and interdepartmental communication among employees. Many of these employees worked together for over 10 years, yet were blissfully unaware of how their communication styles were ultimately failing them. While each person was eager to emphasize the challenges in their colleagues’ communication, they were also yearning to be truly heard and understood. None of these individuals wanted to create conflict or friction; each person desired to do their best, but recognized communication was a problem. The team was caught in a negative feedback loop, disproportionately focused on the negative and often used hyperbolic language (always, never) to point fingers. 

To chip away at this conundrum, Spark + Buzz’s goal was to introduce opportunities to break that existing cycle and try something different. If you can help individuals understand their own communication styles and preferences, this can bring significant changes in how colleagues connect with one another.

Here’s where Truity’s TypeFinder personality test proved useful. While no test will 100% accurately represent you, it can provide a helpful baseline of insights into your personality. Truity’s basic test is a free hybrid of the infamous Myers-Briggs Personality Test. While options abound like the Myers-Briggs, DISC, Predictive Index and more, there is something to be said for a solution that is cost-effective and can still get the job done.

After each employee took the personality test, we aggregated the results and created a cheat sheet reference guide for each personality type represented within the company.  It quickly allowed for a visual representation of kindred spirits and those who were likely to butt heads. The beauty of this exercise is that it truly highlighted something many of us often overlook—it is not personal.  What many employees interpreted as personal intent, was actually a function of personality and style.

Armed with this newfound knowledge, employees were able to take cues on different ways to approach communication with their colleagues, as well as tangible insights into themselves and one another.  The reference cheat sheet serves as a document they can refer to, when seeking insight into the best way to communicate with a colleague. The other tangible takeaway was encouraging individuals to focus on the positive contributions of their colleagues, rather than focusing on what they deemed negative. A team cannot thrive and succeed if colleagues refuse to work with each other and a lack of trust abounds.  Regardless of how the team or an individual may feel, these behaviors alienate colleagues and customers alike.

Sometimes, increasing ROI is simply about enhancing communication and teamwork. Enhanced internal communication that improves relationships and processes boosts your bottom line, because customers will feel that too with an enhanced customer experience. Plus, employees learn better communication techniques and can also apply that to customer interactions.

Need a strategic communications solution? Contact Spark + Buzz today for a free consultation.