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  • Writer's pictureKristen Theisen

3 Tips for Embracing Diverse Communication Styles

Have you ever been frustrated by someone’s lack of communication or by their delivery in general? It may be because you simply have different styles. Perhaps you’re direct and blunt, while the other person is slower to respond and seems indecisive.

Whether it's Damien in the next office or Aunt Sonya in the next room, the challenge is transforming friction into an opportunity for better understanding, improved communication, and positive outcomes.

The key lies in recognizing different styles, appreciating their value, and fostering a safe space for each person’s voice. Below is a list of the top 3 tips for embracing diverse communications in any setting: staff meeting, board of directors retreat, or even a family party.

Tip #1 - Ensure there are different ways people can contribute.

Some circumstances might pose barriers to effective communication and collaboration, so we need to make an effort to have every voice heard. At work, try providing an environment that is more comfortable for team members to express their thoughts. For example, some people need time in advance to formulate questions or feedback, while others have no problem responding in real-time. By distributing an agenda before a meeting, attendees can prepare, bringing their ideas or questions. After the meeting, allow for additional input to be given via email, phone, or one-to-one. Another option is to offer the opportunity for participation in smaller groups, rather than in a large crowd.

On the personal side, all these strategies can still be applied: create a setting where people feel comfortable voicing their thoughts or opinions, let them know ahead of time what the agenda will be for your gathering, and give them opportunities for small group interactions.

Tip #2 - Look through a trauma-informed lens.

It might surprise you to know that 70% of adults in the U.S. have experienced some kind of traumatic event at least once in their lives, according to the National Council of Mental Wellbeing.

We can’t begin to know what experiences have shaped an individual’s personality or preferences, but we CAN be sensitive.

  • Choose curiosity over judgment. If you're struggling to communicate with a colleague, co-worker, or even a family member, consciously ask yourself, "What might cause them to act in this way?" For example, someone who is overly loud and boisterous may have a background in which they struggled to have their voice and opinions heard. On the contrary, someone who rarely speaks up may have had a controlling parent or partner who belittled or criticized them. This perspective may help you to be more patient and understanding.

  • Resist the urge to dismiss or immediately refute someone’s ideas or opinion when they do speak up, but be patient, respond thoughtfully, and thank them for contributing.

  • Be aware of your body language. According to FEI Behavioral Health, some body language can seem confrontational, such as putting your hands on your hips, crossing your arms, or invading someone’s personal space. This can cause an already stressful situation to escalate.

“Trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening.”

Tip #3 - Consider whether "it's not you, it's me" applies.

An increase in self-awareness can also help you to embrace communication styles that conflict with your own. We all have blind spots: "a disconnect between self-perception and shared perceptions of knowledgeable observers," according to an article on Psychology Today. This essentially means that there are times when the way WE perceive ourselves is not the way OTHERS perceive us, which could greatly impact relationships.

So how do we know if WE are our own barrier to embracing diverse communication styles?

  • Engage in a communication assessment or workshop to determine your style and how others may perceive you.

I've had personal experience in the power of the right assessment tool when I received an Insights Discovery profile. One area for improvement it identified for me was with direct conversations and conflict. I realized this was accurate, as I tended to avoid addressing issues head-on, instead choosing comments that were perceived as passive-aggressive. Empowered with this self-awareness, I can now make a conscious effort to be more direct and honest, even when it's difficult.

  • Reflect on whether you're feeling unusually anxious about an interaction or if you could be overreacting, and what might be triggering an undesirable response.

  • FEI Behavioral Health suggests we nurture personal resiliency through steps like remaining calm, fostering a sense of optimism, and “leaning into empathy.” In today's non-stop information tsunami, we need to ensure self-care and relaxation are part of our regular routine. Remember that we need to take care of ourselves before we can adequately take care of someone else.

In closing, remember that each person has a unique story that has shaped their lives. The more we have honest, respectful conversations, the easier it will be to embrace diverse styles. Adapting or shifting behaviors takes time, but know that just making the effort to meet someone halfway will show you genuinely care about connecting.

The goal of this article is to show that small shifts in our approach with others can make a big impact to strengthen relationships, increase effectiveness, and improve productivity. To learn more about tools to enhance your communication effectiveness, visit ( or Click Here.

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