The concept and the basic dimensions of style date back to Jung’s 1914 work (Jung, 1971). Since then, many researchers have examined personality styles and further developed Jung’s ideas (e.g., Marston, 1979; Merrill & Reid, 1981; Schutz, 1966). One clear finding from this research is that the number of styles is not unlimited. Each individual is unique, but there are well-defined categorical commonalities. In fact, research indicates two basic dimensions of personality style, which we refer to as assertiveness and expressiveness.

Assertiveness is the effort that a person makes to influence or control the thoughts or actions of others. People who are assertive tell others how things should be, and they are task-oriented, active, and confident. People who are less assertive ask others how things should be, and they are process-oriented, deliberate, and attentive.

Expressiveness is the effort that a person makes to control his or her emotions when relating to others. People who are expressive display their emotions and are versatile, sociable, and demonstrative. People who are less expressive control their emotions and are focused, independent, and private.

Each communication style has its strengths. Knowledge of these strengths allows people to draw on them as needed, and to find situations in which their strengths are a benefit. Knowledge of the strengths of others allows people to anticipate others’ reactions and adapt their own styles to respond appropriately.

bridging-the-comm-divide-iconBridging 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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