8 Do’s and Dont’s For An Adaptive Approach To Communication


What would happen if you were to communicate with your boss the exact same way that you do with your children? If you interacted with your customers the same way as you did with your employees? 

Interesting thought, right? 

Perhaps the outcome would be fantastic and your ratings or sales would triple instantly. However, it’s more likely that a mismatch would occur and you’d probably get some questioning looks. Why? It’s because different situations often require different ways of communicating and influencing.

Here are some Do’s and Dont’s to remember when you’re interacting with your:

  • manager;
  • employees;
  • colleagues; or 
  • clients.

How many of these do you find yourself doing?

1. Influencing As A Leader

DO: Remain aware of your management style, and whether this suits the particular employee or team that you’re trying to influence.

Sometimes a certain style just won’t get you anywhere. For example, you may have no luck trying to take a Coaching or Inspirational approach if a team member is completely closed to dialogue. In this scenario, an ‘Instructional’ style may be more effective for getting things done. A Coaching style, on the other hand, can help people shine when they’re already driven to improve themselves

DON’T: Overwhelm employees with an overly pro-active approach if they’re already a bit hesitant.

Enthusiasm is a powerful thing. Nonetheless, it can sometimes prevent less forthcoming individuals from opening up, or coming out of their shells. Try stepping back a little and giving others the floor. You may find that this encourages them to voice their thoughts, which in turn can be great for creativity. 

2. Interacting With Your Boss

DO: Take careful stock of whether you’ve correctly understood your boss. 

This means considering a Clarify style. It involves summarizing and verifying his or her information to ensure you’re on the same page. Useful phrases include “So…If I understand correctly…”, which will often help you avoid going above and beyond what’s required. Save yourself the energy!

DON’T: Start convincing when you actually need help. 

As practitioners, this is something we see all too often in simulated boss-employee conversations. Avoid jumping straight into a Convincing style (using lots of arguments, facts, figures, etc.) if you’re not clear on something. Often, there’s no harm in simply acknowledging that you need a little help. 

3. Collaboration With Your Colleagues

DO: Test your assumptions. 

The longer we work together, the more we tend to assume that we already know what someone else is thinking or feeling. Making room for feedback (from either side) will often prevent you from jumping to conclusions—don’t be afraid to verify what you think you’re hearing. You may even learn new things about the other person as you develop your working relationship. 

DON’T: Keep silent if there are things that irritate you.

There are productive ways to discuss issues that bother you. Often, talking about something sooner can help you avoid complications later on. Speak up before things get worse than they need to. As practitioners, we often advise people to take a constructive approach that’s focused on performance and not personality. That is, describe how you’re feeling and offer a reasonable alternative. 

4. Your Relationship With Clients

DO: Put Relationships before Content.

It’s okay to ask questions of your client if you’re trying to get a solid sense of their needs. Doing so displays trust, and a shared commitment to understanding their goals. Empathy can go a long way to developing your relationship, so practice active listening. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their requirements, and how these relate to longer-term goals—it will help you to put yourself in their shoes. 

DON’T: Fill in all your time together with your own stories and ideas.

Ego suspension describes putting other people’s opinions, needs, and wants before your own. When communicating with a client, you may feel an urge to ‘jump in’ with your view. When we suspend our egos and avoid these behaviors, communication and good feelings flow more smoothly. This can go a long way toward maintaining great ties. 

All these tips are examples of the information that you’ll find in the Situational Influencing section of your Sphere of Influence profile. This section not only shows how effective your communication is with different people around you, but it also offers valuable insight into how flexible your style is. In other words, how easily do you switch between different styles?Are you curious to know how you communicate and influence in different situations?

Nicolien Dellensen

Nicolien Dellensen, Senior Consultant and behavioral specialist and creator and owner of the ’Sphere of Influence 360º’ a comprehensive concept and (360) online tool about interactive dynamics.

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