“He never listens to me”
“There is this one person at work who just drives me mad, I can’t seem to explain anything to them so they understand”
“She never tells me she loves me”
“Arghhh it’s so frustrating. I can’t seem to get through to them at all!”
Have you ever had this? You just can’t seem to communicate with certain people…or maybe you have it with your partner where you feel they don’t listen to you and/or respect your opinion.
What most people don’t realise, is that we all have different communication preferences. It’s hard to spot, because technically we are speaking the same language – but in fact, we all communicate based on the way we see the world; our own personal reality.
Problems come from our reality being different from someone else’s, leading to us communicating in different ways.
Describe walking down a beach. You can write it down or keep your answer in your head
If your reality is a based on a visual communication style, you will have described what you saw first. Maybe the blue sky, the golden sand, the rock or whatever. A visual communicator will talk about how things look and how they see it working.
In work, if you have a visual boss, when you take them a report, they will ask you to change layout, fonts and colours. For them to make sense of what you have produced, they need to see it laid out in a way that makes sense to them. It has nothing to do with you, even though it can be incredibly frustrating that you put a lot of work into a report just to have them criticise the colours!
Studying. A visual person learns by seeing. They may write loads of notes and never refer to them again. Using different coloured post it notes, drawing stuff or even using different pen colours will really help you remember stuff.
In a relationship, a visual communicator will demonstrate their love through gestures. They will do things that show they love you. If you are not a visual communicator, you may not even notice these gestures as being an expression of love.
If your reality is a based on a audio communication style, you will have described what you heard first. Maybe the sound of the waves, or seagulls. An audio communicator will talk about how things sound and how they heard it.
In work, if you have an audio boss, when you take them a report, they will ask you to talk them through it. You may have spent hours, even days, making sure the report contained all the necessary information, but for them to understand it, they need to hear it. This can feel like they don’t respect you. It’s not that at all – it’s just, in their reality, they need to hear things to make sense of them. An audio person often talks a lot, as they need to hear their voice to make sense of things.
Studying. An audio person will struggle to learn from something they look at, so saying stuff out loud will help. Also, listening to a particular song while studying will lock the facts into the song, then when you need to recall the facts, all you have to do is sing the song in your head. So don’t believe your teachers when they say you have to study in silence!
In a relationship, an audio communicator will actually need to hear the words “I love you” to feel loved. You can demonstrate your love, and do loads of stuff for them, but if you never actually say it, then they will feel unloved.
If your reality is a based on an experiential communication style, the you would describe what you felt walking down the beach; the wind in your hair, the sand between your toes, the sun warming your skin. An experiential communicator will talk about how things feel
In work, if you have an experiential boss, then it can be really tricky to communicate with them. What you talk about your work, it will need to connect with them in terms of their own personal experience, or give them a feeling of confidence. They might ask you how you feel about what you’ve done. They can often be regarded as a bit slower than others, because most of what we communicate is done through talking or showing, and not as much by experience. To communicate with this style, you should be aiming to get their head nodding in agreement while you talk. You want them to relate what you say to how they feel.
Studying. An experiential person has the hardest time when studying. They are often better at practical topics that they can practice. You can use little tricks like having a particular smell around when you are studying. Then, when you smell it again, the facts associated can be recalled (a bit like smelling a bacon sandwich making you remember you are hungry!)
In a relationship, an experiential communicator will be looking for physical demonstrations of affection; a hug, holding hands etc. They are likely to be more sensitive to temperature and getting cosy with you will be a sign of closeness for them. It really won’t matter how much you tell them you love them, they have to feel you mean it!
If your reality is a based on an analytical communication style, then you probably wouldn’t even answer my question. You’d ask things like : What kind of beach is it? What time of day is it? An analytical communicator needs to understand why you say what you do. They need to make sense of it to understand it.
In work, if you have an analytical boss, when you take them the report that you’ve spent ages working on, they ask you to talk them through why you came up with those conclusions. They may read the report first, but they will need to understand your thinking. This can feel very undermining. It’s not – it’s that they need to understand it and is nothing to do with the way you present it.
Studying. An analytical person will do better a topics where you can think your way through it like sciences. They might find subjects like History more tricky as they are just a bunch of facts. Analytical people can remember stuff better if they understand it.
In a relationship, an analytical communicator can seem distant an unemotional. They are often less demonstrative and lost in a world in their head. It’s not sign of disrespect for you – it’s just their reality! They often do hobbies and activities that stimulate their minds. Quite frankly, they couldn’t care less whether you hug them or tell them you love them, they just accept the relationship for what it it – until you try and get signs from them that they love you – using your communication style. That can get them quite grumpy!
Most people have a primary and at least a secondary communication preference. The key is, to work out the other persons communication style and adapt yours to match.
So go and ask someone that you need to communicate with, to describe walking down a beach, and then match your communication style to theirs. You might be surprised at the difference it makes