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Communicators that Build Bridges: It’s all about moving forward together

Bridge Builders see connections between different ideas or concepts. As they explore connections they attach meaning and significance to what they notice. The possibilities take shape in their mind and they bring them to life first with words and then in tangible realities. For them, words are meant to communicate vision, ideas and possibilities. They speak in metaphors and analogies to create word pictures of the realities they see in their mind. They rally people around ideas and seek to bring people together around a common cause or purpose. 

The language they speak is one of process and people. When laying out plans, they start with brainstorming alternatives and may move in random patterns to connect with people and values important to the group. When they ask questions it is to find connections and create meaning within the situation to move the group forward. While they always have a future hope or vision in mind, they remain flexible to create a shared vision even if it means compromising efficiency or expediency.

Bridge Builders are one of four communication styles you find in teams trying to work together. In this series of blogs we are focusing one blog post on each style: Problem Solvers, Bridge Builders, Strategic Thinkers and Compassionate Connectors. Let’s explore a few ways communication plays out for a Bridge Builder when they are on a team! 

Bridge Builders on Your Team

Meetings

Their  best meetings are face to face, with a white board, flip charts, and colorful markers. They relish engaging in discussions that evolve ideas. As Bridge Builders make connections between the different ideas, positions and possibilities they categorize and sort by commonalities. This process helps them bring things together into a cohesive whole that moves the group toward a goal. To work well with a Bridge Builder: Give space for brainstorming, don’t shut down ideas. Ask questions to help them bottomline what they see. Offer time to think about it and come back for decisions. 

Problem Solving

For them, every problem awaits a solution with out-of-the-box thinking. It is about digging deeper into the problem to find out what is really going on and activate solutions that address the problem at its root. Bridge Builders are open to looking at the situation from every angle to see what spin they can put on the solution to make it work. It’s not always about tried and true methods but personalizing it to the unique situation at hand.

Setting Expectations

They speak in the language of big picture goals. Allow them input on the process whenever possible. Add in details with concrete steps to help them along the way. Make yourself available to bounce ideas around. Deadlines may actually inspire genius if they have also had sufficient time to generate ideas and possibilities. If necessary and possible, revisit options, deadlines, or steps as new information and insight emerges. Be clear when the plan can’t change and let them rise to the challenge. 

Tips for Your Bridge Builders

Tips to connect with a Bridge Builder:

  • Acknowledge feelings, don’t analyze or dismiss them
  • Suspend realities during brainstorming to let ideas evolve
  • Focus on the meaning and impact and not just the results
  • Let them “try on” alternative perspectives before deciding
  • Be patient with random tangents to let them connect the dots
  • Involve & affirm them in the process – don’t “bark” orders

Tips to moderate your style if you are a Bridge Builder:

  • Don’t assume questions are meant as criticism 
  • Pause before reacting when things seem personal
  • Recognize when you ramble and get to the point
  • Develop the underlying logic & details behind your vision
  • Find a partner that will help you shape your ideas before the meeting
  • Decide, plan your steps and act even when you don’t feel the idea is ready

What’s Next?

Spend time this week familiarizing yourself with the Bridge Builder communication style. What did you learn?  Choose one person in your life who might be a communicator who builds bridges. Write an affirmation that might connect to them using words and techniques described in this blog. Share the affirmation with them. Ask >> “What connected with you about what I shared?” … “What would you add or change?”

Enjoy the journey! Download my Communication Style Assessment. Comment below >> What stands out to you about Bridge Builders?

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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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