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Understanding Communication Practicalities to Achieve Workplace Goals


Tue Jul 02 2024

Understanding Communication Practicalities to Achieve Workplace Goals

None of us is an island. If we want to achieve our goals, whether inside or outside the workplace, we will need to involve other people, and that means communicating effectively with them. It’s wonderful when we have fantastic ideas or carefully formulated plans, but if we can’t communicate them to others then we won’t achieve our goals.

For effective communication, we must first get the basics right and then understand our own and others' personality filters.


Getting the Basics Right

It’s likely that you will have heard some of these points before, but they are worth reiterating:

  • Know what you want to achieve. What are the objectives of your communication? Are you trying to persuade your audience, get their collaboration, or just let them know what’s happening? Knowing what you are trying to achieve will help you craft your communication.

  • Know your audience. Who are you communicating to? What will work for them? It might help to have some knowledge of their personality preferences — refer to “Understanding Personality Filters” below.

  • Take time to craft your message. Avoid jargon, use straightforward language, and provide context; think about what your audience will or will not already know. Be concise and clear and ensure that key points stand out.

  • Decide on the format and channel. Some messages might be best delivered face to face and one to one; for others, a group message might be best. Don’t immediately go with your first reaction; think through what would work best, based on the preferences of your audience.

  • Listen and adapt. Listen to questions from your audience, be alert to their body language, and adapt what you are saying if your message doesn’t seem to be landing effectively. Where appropriate, ask for feedback. Follow up afterwards.

Understanding Personality Filters

Our personality preferences influence how we see the world. This includes how we communicate to others and how we like to be communicated to by others. Knowing your personality type will give you an insight into your filters, and into how you can adapt your style for a wider audience.

"Personality Type,” as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) framework, looks at four aspects of personality. All are relevant to communication.

  • People who have personality preferences for Extraversion (E) focus their attention on the outside world and are energized by engaging with it. Those with a preference for Introversion (I) focus on and are energized by their inner world of thoughts and reflections.

  • Sensing (S) and Intuition (I) are about information. Those with a Sensing preference pay attention to information that is factual, practical, grounded, and based on the evidence of their five senses. Those with an Intuition preference look for the big picture, how things are connected, trends, and the future.

  • Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) look at decision making. Those with a Thinking preference prefer to make decisions on the basis of objective logic, while those with a Feeling preference want to consider how people will be affected, and how the decision gels with their values.

  • People with a Judging (J) preference like to live in an organized, structured, planned way, whereas those with a Perceiving (P) preference like to live in a more spontaneous, unstructured, emergent way.

In each pair of traits in the framework, we tend to prefer one side over the other—for example, Extraversion rather than Introversion, or Introversion rather than Extraversion. Despite our preferences, we will still engage in activities associated with the opposite trait. This applies equally to the Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving pairs. While we have a natural inclination toward one side, we occasionally operate on the other. We utilize all eight modes at various times, demonstrating our ability to adapt our behavior to different situations and audiences.

Our preference for either Extraversion or Introversion relates to our preferred mode and format of communication. If you have an Extraversion preference, it’s likely that you’ll enjoy talking things through and will prefer conversations, meetings, and presentations (especially interactive ones) rather than written communication. You might find silences uncomfortable and talk to fill the gap. However, it is important for you to remember that not everyone is the same as you. If you have an Introversion preference, you may prefer written information or a one-to-one conversation and may not enjoy large group meetings. Silences may just mean that you are thinking things through before responding. Many introverts will appreciate having the communication in writing in advance of any meeting so that they have time to think through and formulate any questions. So, whether you have an Extraversion or an Introversion preference yourself, remember that your audience may have a different communication style.


If you are communicating with someone who has a Sensing preference, be practical and down to earth. Provide information on specifics, realities, and details, using concrete examples, and present the information sequentially. For intuitive people, provide an overview before going into any specifics, and don’t get bogged down in details. Try to have a future focus and be prepared to suspend reality just a little if you would like to discuss new ideas.

Be prepared for a Thinking audience to be critical or challenging and be sure of your facts. Thinking individuals value competence. Support your proposals with logical reasoning and discuss pros and cons of any decisions. For a Feeling audience, focus on the needs and values or the group or the individual, but listen to what they are saying and don’t make assumptions; treat them as individuals. Avoid being critical when responding to their ideas.

When communicating with those with a Judging preference, be structured and organized, and be prepared to make a decision then and there. For a Perceiving audience, allow people time to explore different options and for the conversation to be less linear.

Applying Personality Filters

Of course, in practice, you likely won’t know the personality preferences of the individual or group that you are communicating to. But it is still important to be aware of these personality filters, for three reasons:

  • Knowing your own personality type, and so your own filters, gives you the power to flex your behavior away from your comfort zone when you need to.

  • Listening to what your audience is saying and watching how they react will give you clues to their filters and allow you to adapt your approach accordingly.

  • For an important topic, it’s likely that you will be seeking to communicate it on several occasions. Rather than using the same approach every time, vary it to appeal to people with different personality filters.

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