Do you want to communicate better at work?

Steve Williamson, VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.
Monday, April 22, 2024
Do you want to communicate better at work?

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What's the secret to improved communication at work? We describe four personality types, how to recognize them, and provide guides for ways you can use those insights to make your message heard loud and clear.


Don't be afraid to ask how your co-worker, supervisor or subordinate prefer to communicate. What you say is only half the equation to effective communication. How you say it is perhaps even more important. Know your audience and you'll go far.

Here are a few different communication personality types. Perhaps you've met a few:

Bullet Points

This individual wants the straight scoop. Skip the embellishment and long-winded explanations. Narrow things down to just two or three points. Use action words and short sentences.

Above all, get to the point right off the top. Make the detail available but don't lead with it.

Ask for what you want. Don't make people guess.

Do you need a decision between available options? List those options succinctly and ask them to select one.

Do you need them to take action? Be clear what it is you need and be clear what they can do to make it happen. These people love to check things off the "to do" list so give them the unambiguous opportunity to "make it so."

Bullet Points people can come across as impatient, and in a way they are, just don't take it personally. Remember they are wanting to get to the action and make things happen quickly and efficiently and you'll do fine.


Some people like to talk. More often than not they prefer to talk about themselves. You can spot them because they convey information through a story format. Everything is an anecdote about something they experienced, someone they met, somewhere they went.

Before conveying your question or information, ask them how they are doing. What have they been doing lately? Inquire about a recent experience they've had. Give them the opportunity to talk and feel heard. Express interest in what they have to say.

Give the other person the opportunity to talk and feel heard.

Don't be in a hurry if it can be helped. Wait until it's obvious they've met their internal quota of sharing, then frame your request or statement as a story, in the same format they like to convey information.

This type of individual likely has a quick mind that hyper-processes information. They may be thinking about multiple things at once, so don't be offended if they seem distracted (they probably aren't). You've likely been heard, and if you mirror their communication style by expressing yourself in an interesting way, perhaps embedded in an interesting story, your job is done.

Problem Solvers

There is a group of people among us who love nothing more than to solve problems. "I'm having trouble with something. Perhaps you can see a better way," is one of their favorite things to hear.

Go into your conversation with the assumption that they implicitly assume they're the most capable person around at finding the best solution to your problem. Whether they are or not, they enjoy feeling like they are. Express appreciation for their input while avoiding any hint their offered solution(s)* may not fit the bill.

* Don't be surprised of these individuals provide multiple solutions or progressively "better" versions of the same answer. They are known for pursuing perfection and may avoid saying their answer is done, reluctant to move on to other tasks.

One of the most motivating things you can say to a natural problem-solver is, "Can you help me with this?"

Note that these folks are well-meaning and perhaps the most altruistic and compassionate in their motivation. They truly love to solve problems because it's the right thing to do, rather than grandstanding or helping out for some ulterior motive.

I Have The Answer

The last general group of people are the ones who are driven by a need to know the answer. They need to know all the information about a topic (or many topics) and take it personally if they are made to feel ignorant. Being asked to research the data and facts behind something is one of their greatest joys.

If anyone is going to read to the bottom of a page and follow all citations and footnotes, it's the Answer People.

Perhaps you're a project manager for a construction company. These are the people you want on your team checking every detail on the legal side of things, the safety requirements, and the regulatory requirements. They will make it their mission to keep you out of jail, out of hock, and out of the red (financially).

Just don't ask The Answer People to make a decision. That's for Bullet Points, Storytellers or Problem Solvers to do. If you do something that makes them feel you are unjustly asking for data and information, don't be surprised if they withhold that information with an air of aloof judgment. These folks have a strong sense of justice.

What's the secret to effective communication?

These personality types represent broad categories. Most people are more nuanced than this and don't fit neatly into just one. In fact, most people have a mix of more than one of these personality types, blended together in different ratios. Coupled with their life experience, this makes them unique (just like you).

These descriptions can provide a useful guide for understanding at a glance how other people operate, communicate, and how they prefer to work with others.

One of the simplest yet most reliable guides to improve your communication is to know your audience and provide your message in the way they prefer to receive it.

Go to to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.

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Steve Williamson

Steve Williamson

Innovator/Banker - VP Digital Marketing and Content, eRep, Inc.

Steve has a career in project management, software development and technical team leadership spanning three decades. He is the author of a series of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles (, and when he isn't writing, he enjoys cycling, old-school table-top role-playing games, and buzzing around the virtual skies in his home-built flight simulator.

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