All of us have our own unique personalities — no surprise there. And we all have specific characteristics that make us the way we are.
But when it comes down to our preferred communication styles: we may be quite simple.
You have a default mode of communication that you may not even be aware of. We all give off clues to the style of communication we prefer.
We reveal this when asked a simple question that takes deeper thought.
The way our heads and eyes move in response to a question gives a quick insight into this default mode of communicating.
These techniques have been used in the business world for years. They’re used to build quick rapport with customers and clients. But they have a bigger carryover to everyday life.
These styles also reveal how we prefer to learn.
When we communicate with someone in their style — and on their level — it quickly builds rapport, trust, and a bond with them. Here’s how you can use it in your life to build stronger connections.
The Eyes Have It
As deep as our personalities may be, we do resort to one of a few communication styles when put on the spot with certain questions.
This isn’t a deep philosophical question — or something that can be answered quickly, such as what’s your favorite movie — but one that takes some genuine focus. A few examples are:
- How many stoplights are between your house and where you work?
- What did you have for lunch two days ago?
- How many steps are there to the upper level in your house?
When we are forced to think, we usually react in one of three ways, which we’ll cover in a moment.
When we have to search for information, the direction our eyes move reveals our default communication style.
These styles have even been studied in medical settings to see what type of learning works best for the students.
When you learn how someone prefers to communicate, you can quickly match it to make them feel more comfortable with you. It’s like when you copy someone's body language to make them feel more at ease.
A 2016 study showed when people do this, they become “dynamically coupled.” Basically, we like people who imitate us.
Here are the communication styles you will most often encounter.
1. The Visual/Creative Person
When asked one of those thought-provoking questions, the visual person’s eyes will look up, around, and up to the sides. It’s like they are searching the sky — and anywhere they can — for the answer.
Their head often moves around and this reveals the creative style of communication they prefer.
Most people communicate this way, so it’s the easiest to identify. Around 65% of the public will be visual communicators. They tend to be outgoing, expressive, and engaging.
A visual communicator may look like they’re not focused on you — and easily distracted — but it’s because they take in everything around them to gather information.
Visual/creative people respond well to people who are animated and expressive. They tend to be fast talkers and may get frustrated with those who take their time to express themselves.
2. The Emotional/Kinesthetic Person
When faced with a deeper question, this type of communicator often looks downward. It’s almost as if they look to their heart and trust their emotions to find answers.
It’s not that they are overly emotional, they just tend to be more emotionally intelligent. It’s like they need to feel what they are saying.
They tend to speak slower, but it’s because they choose their words carefully. They take the time to find the right answer and are introspective about what they say.
You’re less likely to encounter this type of communicator as they may only make up 5% of the population. They also respond well to emotional words such as “feel,” and “grasp.”
3. The Auditory/Analytical Person
This is the person some have trouble connecting with, but once you understand their communication style, it makes sense.
The auditory communicator can seem very robotic and sometimes too direct. When asked a thought-provoking question, they often look straight ahead and rarely break eye contact.
They make look left and right, but they are taking in every word and expression you use. They are analyzing what is being said in order to get all the information needed to find the right answer.
This type of person talks at a moderate pace and is neither overly animated nor too emotional in their responses.
People like these make excellent engineers and are very data-focused. They may sometimes seem intimidating because of their focus, but it’s just the way they gather information.
The auditory or analytical communicator tends to like things in black and white. They respond well to precision and directness.
How Do You Put This Together?
When you identify someone’s communication style, you now know how to cater to them and put them at ease. The best way to do it is to throw in one of those thought-provoking questions early on.
It doesn’t need to be the very first thing you say to them, but when you naturally include one in the early stages of meeting, you can quickly uncover the best way to interact with them.
This is why it’s important to find out your own style of communication.
Have someone ask you one of those thought-provoking questions to see how you respond. It may surprise you.
Once you understand your style, you can adjust it to accommodate others. The odds are, you are a creative communicator, which also makes it easy to connect with the average person.
But what if you’re an analytic person and come across a creative person? This is where it gets tough, but you have to step out of your comfort zone if you want to build a quick rapport and bond with them.
Once you see them communicate in the creative style, it will help if you are a little more engaged.
You don’t need to be jumping around like Jimmy Fallon, but the person will feel more connected to you if you respond as they do.
At a subconscious level, it shows that you care. They might not pick up on this, but this is how we can create bonds and connections.
On the other side: what if you are a creative person and come in contact with someone more analytical/auditory? This can be tough, as you have to dial in your focus to make them feel comfortable.
The analytical person may feel disregarded by someone who’s not engaged with them and looking around everywhere as they speak.
Here, you need to direct your focus and try to keep more eye contact with them. Again, this is about showing that you care about making someone feel comfortable even if they don’t realize it at first.
How Can You Apply This to Your Own Life?
As much as this technique works in the business world, it's very effective in day-to-day situations.
Whether it’s starting a new job, a new school, or any situation where you are with unfamiliar people, it’s an easy way to make quick connections with people and make yourself feel more comfortable at the same.
The other great thing is you already know people who fit into these specific categories. When you're in a new situation where you're not comfortable, it’s easy to draw comparisons between new people you're meeting and others you already know based on how they communicate.
If you meet a kinesthetic person, just connect them to someone you already know with the similar style. This way, you can feel like you already know the person.
This may be something that works well for you if you’re hesitant about new people and different settings.
You may find yourself trying this out with every new person you meet. It’s a great tool to use to quickly bond with others.
Again, they may not realize it, but when you mimic their communication style, it shows them on a subconscious level that you’re caring for them.
As usual, it’s not always about what you say, but how you’re saying it.
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