Our personality affects the way we communicate with others (Hunsaker & Alessandra, 1980). People with different personality styles have different priorities, and function at different paces. These differences can create problems if they remain under the surface. For instance, if Joe is slow and thorough and Jane is fast and decisive, their working relationship will be stressful unless they are aware of each other’s communication preferences.
Understanding other people’s styles allows us to interpret their actions (Snavely, 1981), helping to prevent misinterpretation and frustration. If we are aware of another person’s typical behaviors, we can take these behaviors into account when interpreting his or her actions.
Communication style is just one manifestation of personality style, but it warrants focused consideration because of its importance in our everyday interactions. Most importantly, understanding your own style allows you to react appropriately to the communication styles (preferences) of others, and better manage the communication exchange. The better you understand your own communication style, the better you will be able to adapt your message to improve reception. Likewise, if you understand the communication preferences of others, you can revise your message or communication method as needed.
Bridging the Communication Divide is a cooperative game played in teams. The purpose of this experiential game is to introduce individuals to four principal communication styles — Direct, Spirited, Considerate, and Systematic — and to demonstrate that each style has very different communication strengths and weaknesses.
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