5 Communication Styles You Need to Know


I enjoy people. I’m the guy who looks forward to a party to meet someone new as oppose to dreading have to walk in a room full of strangers. Most of the time that I find myself in a new situation, I look forward to making new friends. As gregarious as I am, I have learned that not everyone communicates the same way I do–as a matter of fact there are several different “communication languages” my clients and friends use for their primary mode of communication. Much like the popular “love language” concept where some prefer words of affirmation and others touch or some gifts, these communication styles or languages are key to unlocking the potential in a sales and management relationship.

communication styles

If you’re in sales (I believe we are all in sales of one form or another), consulting or ministry , the sooner you figure out the best way to communicate with each of your clients or potential clients, the more you can get done.

Here’s 5 different communication styles or languages I have categorized over the years:

1. The Verbal Processor. He wants to talk through all decisions and ideas. There’s a lot of talking that goes on during your exchange with a verbal processor but not form you; it needs to come from him. At the end of a conversation you might be exhausted, but the verbal processor is just getting warmed up.

2. The ADD. (Attention Deficit Disorder). The sooner you get to the bottom line the better. This person often cannot focus on details and minutia and quickly disengages from you if you’re too detailed. Sometimes you’ll be in the middle of a sentence and they’ll say: “hey, look–shiny.” More than once I’ve had great strategic conversations walking through a mall with an ADD leader. The change in pace and scenery helped him to stay on topic for more than 10 minutes.

3. The ADD Texter. Yes, some of my clients have such difficulty focusing that they can’t even stand reading through emails, much less sitting through meetings. They love sending and receiving quick text messages even for important subjects. These folks usually love Twitter.

4. The Mental Processor. They are difficult to read. They might agree or disagree with your point, so it’s hard to keep the discussion moving forward, since there’s usually not much discussion. With this person, you should make your best case and then follow up a couple of days later as they’ve had a chance to think through your proposal.

5. The Face-to-Face Feeler. Some people don’t do well with phone and even teleconferencing. They need to feel the warmth of a visit and reconnect emotionally with you. For them the success of the project or idea is tied to how they feel about it and about you. I can’t tell how many times I’ve heard “this just feels right” when embarking into a pretty large project where the details were either sketchy or non existent altogether.

What other communication style have you experienced?

  • Anonymous

    My boss is a total jerk. His communication language is a string of profanities because he's not smart enough to come up with anything else.

  • @Anonymous, I guess you can call him The Incompetent Jerk. The key is to make feel smart since he obviously isn't

  • Some people are “writers”. Email is a great tool for them. It allows them to compose their ideas thoughts and arguments without interruption. In a sales context it may be difficult to get their attention. They certainly expect you to read through their musings, but there is no guarantee they will read yours.

  • This is a good post Maurilio. Interesting approach on languages. Makes you think some, which is always a good thing.

  • Mark Jeffress

    I would add “the writer.” This is the person who processes things through writing. They usually write long emails in response to a meeting or a phone call. 

    • That’s a good one, Mark. I have a friend who does just that. He will not say much during our conversations but always follows up with a long, detailed email of his thoughts on what we discussed.

  • I’d add “the details person”… this person not only wants everything documented, but wants details, details and more details no matter how minute they may seem to you. they are also characterized by lengthy and strenuous meetings. they often fall into babbling and always feel like they ‘left something out’. similar to Mark’s “writer” they also write lengthy emails and are verbose. they are “over-communicators”

    • Oh, brother. I know the type. Those people drain the life out me.

    • Unfortunately, I know WAY too many of the “details person.” I have sat in on 2 hour long update meetings because the person leading the meeting had to give us the background on everything that has ever happened, ever, in regards to that one topic. I hate those meetings.

  • I am a Face-to-Face Feeler. “Quality Time” is my love language, so knowing that you are willing to invest time in me makes for a great meeting. 

    • I much prefer face-to-face meetings as well, but I love the simplicity and accessibility of texting. It’s instant and brief.

  • We are polling the office to determine which of these belongs to you. xxoo

    • I think I’m a combination of the ADD and ADD texter. Get it to the bottom line in 160 characters or less.

  • This is a great list. I’ve experienced The Interrupter in many meetings. They don’t really listen to what you have to say, but have plenty to say in reply.

  • Lynn Keesecker

    This is good, MA. I’d like to see you expand it further to include the distinction between the Auditory and the Visual “listener”/participant, which goes beyond ADD and focus issues.

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