How Leaders Communicate

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Let’s return to Aristotle’s insight that: “A fool tells me his reasons. The wise man persuades me with my own”. ‘Reasons’ aren’t just the facts, evidence or arguments. Different people are persuaded by different types of appeals. Some people are influenced most by values, stories and metaphors; others just want you to be factual, brief and to the point. Some revel in the details and want to know how your proposal is going to work; and still others feel empowered by being part of a social group sharing the experience of working and being together. Different things impact on different people.

Dr Carl Jung wrote Psychological Types in 1923. He set out different typologies and two of them interest us here. He wrote of the divide between introverts and extroverts in their attitude to the world. Introverts turn inwards for their source of energy while extroverts engage more with the world outside. Some of us are reserved while others are more out-going. Together we all fit somewhere on a continuum between introvert and extrovert.

Jung also identified decision-making preferences. Some people are ‘thinkers’ while others are ‘feelers’. Thinkers are more persuaded by rational arguments based on logic and analysis. Feelers are more persuaded by values-based arguments. Few people are just one thing or the other. Their preferences also fit on a continuum.

Even small and homogenous groups are made up by different personality types who are persuaded in different ways.

I call extrovert/feelers ‘communicators’. They make us feel something – sadness, joy, laughter, motivated. They tell stories. They use metaphors.

Extrovert/thinkers are ‘shakers’. They often are sharp, no-nonsense, take charge sorts.

Introvert/thinkers are ‘auditors’. They love analysis, data and evidence.

Introvert/feelers are ‘sharers’. They want to share with others and create a strong team identity.

Each of these communication styles has strengths and weaknesses. Some people use only one style in their communication and miss connecting with others who don’t share that style. Skilled communicators can reach out to all personality types.