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Identifying Communication Styles For Business Success

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Faxes, teleconferences, the World Wide Web, and other technological advancements guarantee that we can communicate with virtually anyone, anywhere. However, it's up to us to ensure that the messages we send are clearly understood by the recipient.

Whether it's a face-to-face meeting or an overseas transmission, communication is a complex process that requires constant attention so that intended messages are sent and received. Inadequate communication is the source of conflict and misunderstanding. It interferes with productivity and profitability. Virtually everyone in business has experienced times when they were frustrated because they just couldn't "get through" to someone. They felt as if they were speaking an unknown language or were on a different "wave length." Communicating effectively is much more than just saying or writing the correct words. How we communicate is affected by frame of reference, emotional states, the situation, and preferred styles of communication.

Our perceptions are directly related to the senses -- visual, auditory, or kinesthetic/tactile (movement, touch, taste, and smell). Although everyone uses all three styles or modes to interact with the world, most people have a primary one. Research indicates that most people are visually-oriented, whereas the fewest number of people are auditorially-oriented. To ensure that messages are conveyed, it's important to learn how to communicate in another's particular style. To discover someone's primary mode: (1) Listen to the verbs they use; (2) Watch their eye movements during a discussion; (3) Observe their behavior; (4) Ask how they prefer to receive new information; and (5) Be aware of your own preferences. Let's consider each mode.

The Visual Mode. Visually-oriented people interact with the world by creating mental pictures. They'll often make statements such as "I don't see it that way" or "It looks good to me." When responding to questions or making comments, their eyes will go up to create a picture. They also may blink to "clear the screen" in their mind's eye, or they may look directly at you in response to your questions. They will use verbs such as look, see, picture, and imagine. When presenting new information to them, use colorful pictures, charts, or displays.

The Auditory Mode. "I hear what you're saying" or "It doesn't



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