You Thought You Were Clear: 4 Different Ways to Communicate

Have you ever experienced frustration with personalities different from your own that make it harder to collaborate on goals for a project, be effective as a team or make progress towards the broader mission? Working together is necessary, but not easy. Leaders advocate for a certain idea or concept, only to find out that others didn’t really understand what they were saying. Managers communicate expectations, only to find out a team member doesn’t have clarity on actions or outcomes. Meetings to solve problems can start going in circles as everyone is analyzing the problem from a different angle.

These challenges are evidence of different approaches to communication. We have a natural “default” style of communicating and it’s easy to assume everyone else “gets it.” Approaches to processing information and taking action on the basis of that information vary. The result of not understanding differences in communication is miscommunication that thwarts our ability to work together.

Leaders are required to exert  influence, advocate for new ideas, solve problems, and get people to work together. To do that well, communicating across differences is a basic requirement. So, let’s dive in to four different communication styles based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) communication styles. You don’t need to know the details of MBTI, but if you are curious about diving in a little deeper, then download the communication style assessment HERE.

The Four Communication Styles:

Take a few minutes to read below about these four different styles. Notice which one or two connects to your natural approach. 

Problem Solvers – They talk about facts, details, steps/sequence – they focus on decisions that will have the most bang for the buck AND be as efficient as possible.

Bridge Builders – They talk in word pictures and metaphors to help you understand the connections they see in different ideas and patterns – they focus their decisions on ways to bring people together, find common ground and honor differences.

Strategic Thinkers– They talk about big picture ideas, concepts and trends over time – they focus on decisions that lead to solutions that work AND move toward their bigger picture.

Compassionate Connectors – They talk about facts and details too, but will give weight to relevant personal details to help them sort what’s important to give attention to – they focus their decisions on the practical application of resources available and connecting that to the needs of the people or demands of the situation. 

Knowing our style is the beginning of understanding how communication helps us work better together and knowing how to ask for what we need from others in communication.  The next step is learning to adapt our style to meet the needs of those who communicate differently than us.

What’s Next:

Join me in this blog series on these four communication styles. I will do a deep dive into each of the four styles talking about three common challenges for each one:

  1. Approaches to meetings
  2. Approaches to solving problems
  3. Approaches to setting expectations

Learn how to relate to people different than yourself and get clear on what you need in communicating. Download your Communication Self Assessment HERE and receive this Communication blog series right to your email.


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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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