How frustrating is it when someone doesn’t grasp what you have to say? In your mind, you couldn’t be clearer. What do you do? You reload and repeat yourself — a little slower, a little louder, or with more emphasis, as if the listener doesn’t understand English. There is a better way.
To give clarity to verbal communications, we developed the ECI (Eloqui Communication Index).The ECI identifies your communication style as an Accelerator, Pragmatist, Collaborator or Analyzer. We may not change how we see the world, but we can identify and acknowledge someone else’s style. And when we adjust and speak their language, we more quickly persuade them to buy in.
About 12% of Americans are Accelerators (for CEOs, business owners, and salespeople that percentage is higher.) Many of us pitch Accelerators for new business, to buy into our proposal or support our ideas.
Accelerators can be impatient and want you to “get to the point.” They can be certain with little justification and tend to have short memories of what they agreed to or convinced us of. Don’t let their strong personalities deter you.
Listen for how Accelerators communicate. They speak in short phrases. They regularly use “I know” or a version of “It’s like this.” Their stories and analogies are colorful. They enjoy being out front. As leaders, they are visionary and persuasive. However, once they create a project, company, or organization, they’re ready to move on and let someone else handle the details.
Accelerators will push you to see what you’re made of and how committed you are. Typically, they are competitive in business, sports, and even games. When speaking to an Accelerator: “Be brief. Be colorful. Be gone.”
Pragmatists focus on the outcome or end result. They constitute 40% of the population. I am a classic Pragmatist. Strategy and logistics occupy much of my time. Details wake me up at night.
Pragmatists reference the past to understand the present. For example, our Pragmatist client at Mattel might ask their supervisor, “Tell me how you operated the toy drive in 2013, and I will make adjustments to improve this year’s event.”
Pragmatists justify the cost of purchases or services. It’s why Eloqui’s value-add is that clients can contact us for phone or email coaching at no additional cost.
Once you have identified a Pragmatist, convince them with concrete language and the specifics of what you wish to accomplish. We don’t respond well to projects with loose schedules and deadlines, flowery language, or pitches without documentation. Be direct. Start with the intended outcome and then spell out your plans for achieving it.
Collaborators are another 40% of the population. They are motivated by the contribution they are making to their family, organization, or the world at large.
Collaborators gravitate to positions such as HR directors, teachers, mediators, or in non-profits where they make people feel better. Their personal success is measured by the professional success of the organization or charitable efforts. However, I’ve coached attorneys, financial advisors, and consultants who are also Collaborators, so don’t make an assumption about someone’s communication style based solely on their profession.
If your team has a dispute, go to a Collaborator. They are terrific listeners. They have the patience to hear both sides and bring out both sides. They possess the communication skills to find a solution that works for everyone.
Enlist a Collaborator for a brainstorming session. They love coming up with creative solutions or building on someone else’s. They may have trouble implementing an idea, but that’s what Pragmatists are for.
Collaborators have high emotional intelligence. Money is not a driver for Collaborators. A project outcome is not a motivator for a Collaborator. Their contribution or efforts to make the world a better place is the ultimate carrot.
If you want to convince Collaborators to accept your idea, appeal to their heart more than their intellect. Focus on the benefit or value. And tell them how much it means to partner together. But be honest. Collaborators can read a phony.
Whenever you listen to someone describing the detailed inner workings of ANYTHING, you’re probably speaking with an Analyzer. Like detectives, engineers, or scientists, they love nothing better than to be in the weeds. Whether it’s a P&L sheet, a manual for how to assemble a bicycle, or the origin of a word, Analyzers go deep.
Analyzers are only 8% of the population, but higher for engineers, CPAs, scientists, and financial analysts. Analyzers are systems thinkers. ”Thinkers” is the key. They love research. But since humans have limited mental bandwidth, Analyzers carefully select what they devote their time to. When supervising an Analyzer, make sure they accept or buy in. Otherwise, expect resistance, delays, or incomplete work.
To identify an Analyzer, listen for long, run-on sentences. “I think” (I need more research before I can definitively say “I know”); and a high-level, erudite description, rather than jargon or general terms.
To convince Analyzers, have your facts in order. Construct your argument and include supporting data. If you want them to take on a task and do it well, tell them how their findings fit into the overall system. Although Pragmatists and Collaborators trust the opinions of others, and Accelerators trust their own instinct and judgment, Analyzers only trust hard evidence.
No communication style is better than any other. I frequently hear, “If only they would do it this way,” which is precisely the way you would! We can’t change who we are, but we can learn to appreciate and speak someone else’s language. (OMG, I sound like a Collaborator!)
And if the number one client complaint is not being heard, imagine how wonderful it would be if we were not only heard, but appreciated for our differences. And from my Pragmatic point-of-view, every healthy, well-functioning organization, company and team, includes all four communication styles.