Understanding the Four Main Communication Styles in the Workplace

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Business colleagues discuss the difference in their communications styles.

Communication in the workplace remains one of the most crucial elements of any job, enabling individuals to convey complex ideas to one another and ensuring that everyone in the organization is aware of the same facts and procedures. Despite this, Harvard Business Review notes that about two-thirds of all managers aren’t comfortable communicating with their employees.

Business communication can help a business immensely. However, a lack of communication can severely cripple an organization. While communication may be a wide-ranging topic to cover, human interaction through speech can be broken down into four main styles. Managers should be aware of these styles and how they affect internal and external professional engagement.

Those with a Master of Arts in Business Communication develop the skills needed to meet the communication challenges of the modern workplace. Read on to learn more about how this degree can help managers develop a better understanding of communication styles.

What Styles of Communication Exist?

Communication styles in the workplace can be divided into four major categories: analytical, intuitive, functional and personal. Each of these has its strengths and weaknesses and is better suited to some tasks than others. Managers should be able to spot these styles through their initial discussions and use what they know about them to help bridge gaps between the different members of a team.

Style 1: Analytical

Analytical communicators tend to focus heavily on statistics and figures. They enjoy using those facts to drive their decisions and inform their communication. As a result, they tend to be meticulous in researching the best way to do something. Conversely, if someone on their team doesn’t use logical thought in decision-making, they tend to become frustrated very quickly. They’re not very emotionally grounded, and some of their peers may see them as heartless or motivated solely by logic. The positive side of analytical communicators is that they can cut through emotions and get to the crux of the matter. They’re efficient and effective in getting their messages across. Additionally, based on how they present ideas, they can usually sway others by calm, measured discussion.

Style 2: Intuitive

Intuitive communicators use the final result of a discussion to guide their contributions. They’re the opposite of analytical thinkers. Each contribution they make tries to center on what the end goal of the project should be. They aren’t much concerned with details and like to look at the big picture. They’re more goal-oriented than those with other communication types. Their main objective is the bottom line and what it takes to achieve that result. The downside of intuitive communicators is that they sometimes tend to miss important details.

Style 3: Functional

Functional communicators like processes. They enjoy step-by-step instructions and seeing how things evolve into the final product. This inspires curiosity in the other members of the team and helps everyone understand the incremental changes needed to complete projects. Functional communicators like their information littered with statistics and facts and enjoy using tools like Gantt charts and whiteboards. They also share some of the traits of intuitive communicators, as they sometimes overlook details within each step of a project. Their role is usually as the implementer, taking ideas and turning them into a reality.

Style 4: Personal

Personal communicators may be considered the glue that holds the social fabric of an office together. They’re skilled in seeing things from different perspectives and looking at the reasoning behind how those ideas are formed. Because of this skill, they usually mediate, ensuring that everyone understands what everyone else is thinking. They’re the individuals who look for and inspire trust in others, an ability that gives them extra leverage in situations where buy-in is required. The downside of this type of communication is that more logical thinkers may consider the personal communicator’s discussion style to be uncomfortable. Alternatively, personal communicators can become upset or exasperated by lack of emotion in team communication.

How These Communication Styles Interact with Each Other

For individuals in managerial positions, the interaction of these different communication styles can make or break a team. Some individuals who display certain communication styles in the workplace find it very hard to get along with others who don’t share those styles. Good managers are skilled in finding where these styles meet and helping them mesh.

Other types of communication styles work remarkably well together. Good managers are able to look at a pool of candidates and determine which individuals will work best with other individuals. They also recognize that it’s essential that the team consist of a wide array of communicators, since having different perspectives is crucial to see all the facets of a project.

The analytical communicator can review the numbers and facts and present that information to all the team members. The intuitive communicator ensures that the project remains on track. The functional communicator operates within the bounds set out by the facts presented by the logical communicator and the time defined by the intuitive communicator. Finally, the personal communicator ensures that everyone is communicating with each other, and the spirit of the project isn’t sacrificed for efficiency.

Building Relationships Through Communication

To understand how these different communication types coexist, Rider University’s online Master of Arts in Business Communication program gives its graduates the resources to become managers who can navigate the complicated world of business communication. Courses at Rider University help students understand nuanced communication by exposing them to both the methods of persuasive discussion in the workplace and visual communication methods and purposes. It also allows students to develop presentations that mesh with every communication style.

Learn More About Communication Styles from Rider University

Excellent communication comes as much from education as from practice. Noticing the different communication types in an organization enables managers to adapt their style to best fit the situation. In many cases, seeing the underlying communication patterns is likely to make one a better manager and inspire confidence and trust in others. Graduates of Rider University’s online Master of Arts in Business Communication have all the tools necessary to become managers who stand out as expert communicators. Learn more about how a degree from Rider prepares students to be professional communicators in their workplace.

Recommended Readings: 

How to Develop Effective Communication Strategies in Business

How Can Health Communication Experts Assure Sound Ethics in Health Care?

Business Communication Careers and How to Choose the Right One


Fast Company, “These Are 4 Styles of Communication That You Need to Know”

Forbes, “4 Ways to Combat Workplace Communication Breakdowns”

Forbes, “Which of These 4 Communication Styles Are You?”

Harvard Business Review, “Two-Thirds of Managers Are Uncomfortable Communicating with Employees”

Houston Chronicle, “Four Effective Styles of Communication in the Workplace” 

The Balance Small Business, “Workplace Communication Styles for Small Businesses”