Your communication problem at home, in the workplace, with your mother-in-law, isn’t a communication problem, it’s a language problem. You aren’t speaking the same language.
Can anyone identify with that? I’m sure all of us have thought or even said something along the lines of, “their not speaking my language.”
If you traveled to a foreign country and they spoke a different language than you, the only way you could actually connect and communicate with them would be to speak their language.
The strange thing about communication is many of us sit in our workplaces or at home and feel like we are in a foreign land when we talk to that person. When I say “that person” most of us know who the person is. I’m confident that after finishing this post, you’ll know what’s making speaking their language so challenging and how to fix it.
Learn A Language In 1 Hour
What if I told you-you could learn a language in one hour or less, would you be interested?
Instead of feeling like you are never connecting or things are getting “lost in translation”, you can, in an hour or less, get amazing clarity on what is being communicated to you.
Does that sound intriguing? Too good to be true? It’s not. You may have to make some adjustments, but I’ve seen plenty of “aha moments” to know this is not only possible but predictable.
What Language Are They Speaking?
First, it’s important to understand everyone has two distinct priorities they bring to conversations. These priorities aren’t black and white but are on a scale. Meaning, they have varying levels of intensity depending on the person and the situation.
Second, it’s important to recognize there are four primary “dialects” that they could be speaking. Then you can determine their “dialect” by asking two simple questions. Once you know the four “dialects” or styles, you will be able to speak the other person’s language. The first scale is Direct vs Indirect.
Direct vs Indirect or Fast vs Slow
Each of us has a different pace of communication. We reflect that in how quickly we speak and how directly we speak. Learn this aspect of someone’s communication style and you are half-way to understanding their language.
- The Directness priority is about speed, decision making, and assertiveness.
- If someone is on the Direct side of the scale (D-Style & I-Style), they will be decisive, assertive, and fast in their communication, decision-making, and interactions.
- If someone is on the Indirect side of the scale (S-Style & C-Style), they will be slow to make decisions, more passive in communication, and display less aggressive tone and body language.
Open vs Guarded or People vs Task
Once you knowing whether the person is Direct (Faster paced) or Indirect (Slower paced), you can focus on the openness of their communication. This then gives you the final piece of information you need to understand which “dialect” they are likely speaking.
- The Openness or People priority is about how Open someone is in sharing about themselves and interacting with others.
- If someone is on the Open side of the scale (I-Style & S-Style), they are more likely to be People-Oriented, more emotionally open to others, and make more feelings-based decisions. They will also display an open tone and body language.
- If someone is on the Guarded side of the scale (D-Style & C-Style), they are more likely to be Task-Oriented, more emotionally guarded toward people, and make decisions based on logic, not emotions. See graphic below.
Two Power Questions
You can discover people’s priorities and their “language” by asking the Two Power Questions and taking some time to observe people. Ask yourself:
- Compared to me is this person more Direct (fast-paced) or
- Indirect (slow-paced) than me?
- Compared to me is this person more Open (people-oriented) or
- Guarded (task-oriented) than me?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you then apply the Platinum Rule and treat them the way they want to be treated. In other words, start speaking their language not yours.
Here’s a nifty graphic to help give you some clarity. We can’t get into the Styles here, but the graphic illustrates how answering this question allows you to know which style of communication the person prefers.
For example, if I’m trying to identify my wife’s behavior/communication Style I can ask, “Is she more Direct or Indirect than me?” I see her as indirect compared to me. Then I can ask myself, “Is my wife more Open or Guarded than me?” I see her as more Guarded than me.
This then helps me to plot her on the DISC quadrant. In her case, if she is Indirect and Guarded, it puts her as a Conscientious Style. Now I can apply the Platinum Rule and adjust my behaviors/communication to better fit her.
Then we will be speaking the same language and all our marital struggles will fade away… wait… well it definitely helps in great ways!
You Try It
- Take some time right now to think of someone who is really important to you. Then ask the Two Power Questions about this person.
- Where do they plot on the DISC quadrant? How can you adjust your behaviors/communication around this person now that you have a clearer idea of their Style?
If you’re interested in taking a DISC assessment to discover your Style, click here or forward to a friend you think this could benefit.