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Understanding Communication Styles with Kathy Marcino
We have with us, Kathy Marcino. Kathy is a communications expert. Kathy, welcome to our show.
Thank you so much for having me.
I was going through your website and one of the things that it said was, “When it comes to communications, especially in small businesses, entrepreneurs when did this tension start?” What are some ways we can avoid tension in our communications?
First of all, tension/conflict/frustration they all don’t have to be dirty words. Sometimes conflict and tension are good. The reason a lot of people think it’s negative is that too many times we make assumptions of what the other person is thinking or feeling and that’s what ends up getting us frustrated and walking away or not wanting to even further this relationship. What I try to do with my clients and typically they’re small business owners or entrepreneurs that are looking to learn how to communicate more effectively with their colleagues, with their managers and ultimately with their customers. Once you identify how you prefer to communicate, it’s easier then to identify how others prefer to be communicated with. That’s an important point. Once you understand that, it’s like, “Now I get why she acts like that or that’s why I understand why he responds like that.” You can see some of the tensions go away.
Tension or frustration should be more of a sign that maybe we’re making assumptions or there’s a mismatch in communications style not necessarily a negative thing. How do you find out your communication style like understanding how you communicate?Once you identify how you prefer to communicate, it's easier to identify how others prefer to be communicated with. Click To Tweet
One of the tools that I use is called the DISC model of human behavior. Some people are super familiar with it, other people scratch their head. They think I’m talking about their spine. This tool has been around for years and years. It’s still relevant if not more now than ever because many people now are doing many virtual meetings and not having that face-to-face interaction like we used to. People are looking at how to communicate effectively in a virtual world. To start is how do I communicate? What motivates me? What are my preferences? How to find that out is by doing a DISC assessment, a self-assessment. Finding out where your strengths are but even more importantly, where your blind spots are.
Let me tell you about 30 years ago, Kathy, I had my first DISC assessment. I’m a former engineer. It’s no surprise, I was a high C. I was in a team and there’s probably 50 people in the room stood up, they were mostly D’s and I’s. I kept trying to think like, “Why do I feel like the black sheep here?” I realized I had a totally different style. I spent a while trying to become a D or an I. I finally realized what you’re saying is there are a lot of strengths in being a C. It was better to be a strong me and be cognizant of what the other people valued.
People think of, “I have to take an assessment. I’m a particular style and therefore, I must change.” That couldn’t be more from the truth. What we’re talking about is, once you identify your style and people start to understand that, you can adapt your style to better work with others. The goal being and it doesn’t have to be in a professional setting personally as well, how you relate and respond to that other person.
For me, it was very liberating in the sense that I was with this group for about a year and I quit beating up myself. I was like, “My strengths are totally different. I need way more data than these guys do.” I actually enjoyed the data. I enjoy all the little nuances of the decision making. I’m not the big picture.
As a manager, I would want to know about a possible employee. If I’m hiring someone with skillsets like yours that I need because I want to make sure that I have the right person in the right role. The last thing I want to do is put somebody in that role that doesn’t like it because whether they have the skills or not, they have to be motivated and feel comfortable to stay.
What other communication challenges do you see with entrepreneurs and small business owners?
We all communicate so much especially virtually now. It’s text. It’s email. It’s in soundbites. A lot of things I see are that messages are misconstrued. A lot of questions I get are, “If I’m just meeting somebody for the first time, how can I tell maybe at a networking event or over the phone, how can I tell what their style is? I know mine, but how can I tell theirs?” Some tips that I’ve given that seemed to be super helpful in a virtual world are listening to that person’s pace. If they’re talking super quickly, you try to match their pace or otherwise, they’re going to ignore you. They’re going to dismiss you. Conversely, if you’re speaking very slowly and very reserved, a lot of people might start to tune you out.
Try to match their pace a little bit. Another question that I’ve received from clients is the logic versus emotion and people don’t understand. As you said, I need a lot of data. What that means is you need a lot of information before you can make a decision. Sam, probably people wouldn’t say she’s so impulsive. That wouldn’t be an adjective. I’m super impulsive because I make decisions based on emotion and a lot of people make decisions based on logic. What happens is there’s this breakdown in communication because it’s feelings versus emotions. It’s feelings versus logic and a lot of people don’t understand the other.
Feelings can change pretty quick so the decisions come quicker.
What happens is some of the more outgoing people, the D’s and I’s like you mentioned, they aren’t really influenced by other people’s opinions as much and so they can make decisions quicker whereas the C’s they have to take in a lot more information and apply a process to every decision making that they have. There are so many data points. They can’t just go from A to Z. They have to go through all the steps and dot the I’s and crossed the T’s before they make a decision. Think about somebody that you’re working with like that and you’re in a project environment or a partnership environment. You’re on one end of the spectrum. They’re on the other end. You want to bang your head against the wall.
It’s also recognizing that because someone is processing information in a different way, it doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Just because they need more information in a little longer and read through it, sell themselves and maybe get some other people’s opinions does not mean they’re not interested. It’s they need to go through that process. What else can entrepreneurs do to enhance their own communication? Know your own style and then make sure that your employees, if you know their style or the roles fit. What else can they do?
If you are new to leadership, if you’re now finding yourself in a leadership role and you’re managing people for the first time, what you need to understand is your own leadership style, how you prefer to lead and more importantly, how does your team prefer to be led?
Give me an example of that. What’s a leadership style that you often see?
A leadership style is another type of assessment, which shows that you lead maybe from the front of the pack. You’re giving direction. Maybe you lead from the sideline, maybe you’re a cheerleader, maybe you lead from the back, you’re the one with the clipboard making all the check marks as we go along in the process. If you are a very driven leader and you have a lot of people on your team that is maybe more in that cautious mode or that safe and supportive role, they’re not going to be on the same page with you. You’re going to have a bit of a conflict there because they’re going to need more direction. They’re going to need more assurances if you will. Whereas that leader is already over the mound and onto the next project. You need to know how your team prefers to be led to be a successful leader and that that comes with empathy and that comes with self-awareness. All of that starts with self-awareness.
That’s such a key and to be a lifelong learner. This stuff has been fabulous, Kathy, how do people find out more about you?You need a lot of information before you can make a decision. Click To Tweet
My website is KMMDISC.com. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram, @KMMDISC. LinkedIn is also Kathy Marcino. If you’re on my website, you can download a free guide on the four communication styles. It gives a lot of tips and tricks to learn how to communicate more effectively.
What is one key thought you want to leave our audience with?
That your behavior style is neither right or wrong or bad or good. Everyone is different. It all comes down to acceptance and understanding.
This is Kathy Marcino. You can find her at www.KMMDISC.com. Kathy, thank you so much for being a guest with us.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.
About Kathy Marcino