We all prefer to communicate in the way that we are used to communicating. This means using phrases or wording that are part of our daily vocabulary, preferring more or less emojis, writing shorter or longer texts. But what may seem normal or even excellent to you can seem strange or even offensive to someone else. That is because the way we perceive the world is widely impacted by our cultural background, age, generation, society, personality type and education level, to name a few.
The first rule of communication is to never assume that everybody else is just like you. If possible, always use the type of communication style that the person you are communicating to prefers. That automatically makes you much more likeable and trustworthy!
Here are the 3 main psychological aspects that influence every person’s preferred communication style:
1. The life phase
We are always developing and changing throughout our life. According to our physiology and psychology, we go through 3 phases of life: developmental phase (age 0-21), the phase of relative balance (age 21-40) and the phase of decay (from age 40). In the world of psychology, “decay phase” means that if before that period we were continuously given something by nature, then now nature slowly begins to take from us.
That is why this theory is called “life curve” as there are many parallels that can be drawn between the different subphases of the development and decay phases. For example, the best support mechanisms for 1-7-year-olds and 60-70-year-olds are repetition and tolerance. Another example is 7-14-year-olds and 50-60-year-olds who both yearn to belong, and struggle with balancing their work and rest time. Get acquainted with the main challenges that different ages go through and adjust your communication accordingly.
Depending on when you were born in history, you are conditioned more or less according to the challenges and major events of that time. People from different generations react differently to the same reality. They also prefer different communication channels. While older generations (Baby Boomers and Generation X) prefer face-to-face meetings or talking over the phone, millennials typically go for email, and generation Z communicates on different messaging apps and social media. The appropriate language varies greatly depending on the generation. While older generations are more used to hierarchical communication (e.g. the authority of the communicator matters), then younger generations see others more as equals and communicate in a more informal way.
3. Personality type
While all humans have similar needs in life, the importance of those needs varies from one person to another. Somebody needs more excitement in their life, another prefers numbers and data etc. According to the DISC model there are 4 typical behavioral styles:
- Oriented to dominance and results: they are drawn to money, power and results. They want to be in charge and hate meaningless chit-chat.
- Oriented to influence and inspiration: they are drawn to inspiration, fun and experiences. They hate unnecessary details and long and boring meetings or emails. Wow them with the big picture and the dream and they are ready to go!
- Oriented to steadiness and relationships: they are drawn to peace, harmony and connection. They hate arguments and misalignments and do everything possible to maintain strong relationships.
- Oriented to conscientiousness or process: they are drawn to numbers, data and research. They hate vague ideas or pieces of information that are not supported by facts. Give them all the details and allow them to process it before pressuring them into a decision.
If you want to know more about how these psychological aspects influence our communication style, then check out this blog post by Powerful Marketers: How to effectively communicate in business and in life?
Making an extra effort towards adjusting your communication to meet the other person’s needs can open new opportunities for you, as the other person truly feels that what they say matters and that you are actively listening. In email marketing, paying attention to such psychological aspects can help you increase your engagement level: e.g. segmenting your audience depending on their age, generation or the way they respond to your content. It is a challenging, but definitely a rewarding process!
Author’s bio: Powerful Marketers helps overwhelmed marketers to grow personally and professionally through trainings, 1:1 coaching and application services. The founder of Powerful Marketers, Mari-Liis Vaher, is an international marketing and mindset mentor who has worked with marketers from 3 different continents by successfully teaching, inspiring and supporting them on their journey of personal growth and professional development.