Every workplace is full of people with different communication styles. Think about your office for a moment. When a coworker is speaking, have you ever thought, “Get to the point already!” Or maybe one of your coworkers seems rude or unfriendly because they’re too direct when speaking to you. Interacting with an individual who has a different communication style than you, can be difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible.  

Differences in communication style can create incredible, collaborative projects and results … and conflicts … and misunderstandings. According to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Lucidchart, 42% of survey respondents thought different communication styles was a primary cause for misunderstandings in the workplace. At bossibly, we know the problem isn’t that people have different communication styles … it’s that we may not know how to handle different communication styles. 

To effectively communicate, you need to know what these communication styles are and how your colleagues prefer to use them. With this knowledge, you can tailor your communication style and learn to interpret others’ communication styles as well. 

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Communication Styles in the Workplace

Ready to understand your communication style and the communication styles of your coworkers? Let’s dive in … 

Intuitive Communication Style

Intuitive communicators are big picture people. When they communicate, they get right to the point and don’t bother with the nitty-gritty. These people cut to the chase and don’t need the step-by-step replay. Intuitive communicators may become impatient when speaking with detail-oriented people. 

Tip: When you are working with an intuitive communicator, it’s better to skim over the details and be as concise as possible, so you maintain their attention.  

Functional Communication Style

In many ways, functional communicators are the opposite of intuitive communicators. These people love details, step-by-step instruction, and prefer linear communication. Although functional communicators can lose listeners’ attention and easily identify gaps in processes. 

Tip: When working with a functional communicator, provide as much detail as possible and in a linear fashion. You can also ask if they prefer direction in writing as opposed to verbal direction. 

Assertive Communication Style

Many believe assertive communicators are the most effective communicators. 

These people can effectively express their thoughts and feelings while listening and considering the thoughts and feelings of others. 

Tip: When working with an assertive communication, use “I” phases, maintain eye contact, and don’t be afraid to express your opinion. 

Passive Communication Style

Passive communicators have difficulty expressing themselves. They don’t speak up when they should, and many perceive them as indifferent. Those who are passive communicators have underlying social anxiety or low self-esteem. They may avoid eye contact and have poor body language. 

Tip: When dealing with a passive communicator, you will likely find they are easy to get along with as they will follow your lead. That said, they may not contribute as much. Speak gently and be friendly to encourage them to open up, and ask them directly how they feel about a specific topic.  

Passive-Aggressive Communication Style

Passive aggressive communicators are complex. They have the low self-esteem and communication skills of a passive communicator, which ultimately turns into resentment. Their inability to effectively expressive themselves festers into aggressive indirect remarks. These communicators are most likely to use body language and non-verbal communication like the silent treatment, rolling their eyes, sighing, or spreading rumors. 

Tip: When dealing with passive-aggressive communicators, recognize the behavior and call it out in a kind but firm manner. 

Aggressive Communication Style

An aggressive communicator is loud and demanding, and they appear intense and control focused. Aggressive communicators may blame, intimidate, or threaten. In many cases, people fear this type of communicator, which this communicator sometimes translates as respect.

Tip: When dealing with an aggressive communicator, remain calm and don’t take it personally. Try to empathize with the person and speak up gently, bringing their attention to the aggressive behavior.  

Analytical Communication Style

Analytical communicators love numbers and cold-hard facts. These data-driven communicators prefer specifics and are not a fan of vague, ambiguous language. These people prefer measurable statements and dislike hyperbole. In the workplace, these communicators can deal with issues without letting emotions get in the way. Although this can be great for problem-solving, it can make them appear cold. 

Tip: When working with analytical communicators, be concise and fact-based. Avoid emotional language and include numbers, if relevant. 

Personal Communication Style

Those who are personal communicators use connection and emotionally-rich language. They will look for the underlying emotional message, resolve conflicts, and establish strong relationships. These people are great at reading the room. Still, they may have trouble focusing on more data-driven material and when communicating with analytical types. 

Tip: When communicating with these people, try to do so in person as opposed to email. 

Communication in the workplace can be challenging, and misunderstandings can cause tension between coworkers. Fortunately, you can decrease the number of misunderstandings and increase effective communication by mastering varying communication styles.


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