People are different in many respects. Rarely do we think of people being different with respect to how they prefer their communications. There are four distinctive types of people with respect to communications.
- Give it too me straight – This type of person doesn’t want a lot of preliminaries. These people want you to get to the point quickly. They don’t want a lot of justification. They just want to be assured that you are confident in what you are saying. They also want concrete suggestions on what to do. When they ask questions, they want direct answers.
- Let’s Talk – These people want to be very comfortable with what you are saying. They like a lot of background especially as it relates to what others feel about the subject. They don’t want to move too fast so they would like to know what others have done in similar situations. They don’t want to be hurried so take your time in communicating to these people.
- I Need to Know More – These people want to focus on how you came to the information you are presenting. They are interested in detail, but they really want to be comfortable with the approach that you took. They will want to think through consequences with you if you are communicating a need for action. Be prepared to do a step-by-step description of what you did in communicating with these people.
- Let’s See What the Manual Says – These people want to be sure that what you are suggesting is permitted. When you communicate to these people, you need to be certain to assure them that everything being proposed is within their scope of control according to the “book”. These people may have more of an interest in the policy of what is being proposed than the actual content itself.
These are four very different ways of communicating to these different types of people. What do you do when the same message needs to be delivered to a mix of these types. The general rule is to focus the message on the principal decision maker but try to have the information that others will be seeking.