Communicate with influence. Not just the icing on the cake – this is the hundreds and thousands on the icing on the cake!

Have you ever tried to convince someone, just knowing that you were right, only to find that your best arguments fell on deaf ears? You were probably talking to someone with completely different communication preferences to you.

All of us have experienced meeting someone with whom we felt either instantly comfortable or disliked for no apparent reason. Every day, we face the challenge of being understood and accurately interpreting others. In fact, we’re actually more likely to misinterpret something we hear or read than to correctly decipher every nuance in a discussion.

At work and getting work – it matters!

I’ve been the People & Culture Manager for my husband’s company for quite a while.  Yet, only recently I realised I was completely missing the mark in persuading him to take up my suggestions.  Given that I’ve coached others in this area, you’d think I’d know better, but it took me a while to realise that I was using the wrong communication style.

Now, we Australians generally shy away from the idea of altering our communication style.  Many of us still have remnants of the old ‘take me or leave me’ approach and think it’s fake to adjust our style.

The problem with that rigid attitude is we’re likely to fail to connect with three out of four people. So when I have my Career Consultancy hat on and I’m preparing clients for interviews, if we have time, we delve into the subtleties of communication – especially if they’re competing at the very senior echelons of the job market.

Our work is based on Carl Jung’s theory ‘I Speak Your Language’ which asserts that under stress i.e. a job interview, most of us favour one of four basic communication styles, with the problem being that people by far prefer to listen to someone with their own communication style. 

None of us has any trouble working out the style of the person we’re trying to influence; the difficulty arises in changing our own approach. 

To excel at matching the communication style of your decision-maker, it requires two things:

  1. Firstly, you must change the content of your communication
  2. Secondly, you must change your delivery style

Now, perhaps it’s clear why I call it the hundreds and thousands on the icing on the cake.  We are talking about high level communication skills here.

What are the four styles and their characteristics?

Each of the four personality styles has unique strengths and qualities as well as potential weaknesses and ‘blind spots.’ No particular style is good or bad.


They’re perceptive, responsive to others, big hearted and supportive. Feelers are tuned in to the emotions and reactions of others.  They enjoy personal relationships and are astute at ‘reading between the lines.’

Feelers most likely have memorabilia, such as awards, photos or trophies, displayed around their office. 


They’re conceptual, synthesizers, creative problem solvers and long- range thinkers who are always thinking of the future and possibilities.  Intuitors derive great satisfaction from considering the world of possibilities. Often their input serves as a catalyst for those around them. They assume others see things as they do, and they expect their actions and communication to be self-evident and understood by most. Intuitors typically overlook the people side of a situation, focusing instead on the big picture. 

Their surroundings are often messy, and contain abstract art and multiple resources, such as books and magazines. 


They’re very factual, calm, unemotional and systematic.    Thinkers are analysers, logical, step by step, concrete and sequential.  They place high value in objectivity and orderly inquiry, and are disciplined and deliberate decision makers. Thinkers assume others see things as they do.

Their surroundings are neat and minimal, often with charts and graphs on the wall.


They’re the doers – concrete, pragmatic, detail oriented, realistic, quick to put into action. Sensors are the ones who can probably be reached by cell phone, pager, shoe phone or whatever.  They’re here-and-now oriented and thrive on getting things done in the present moment without time-consuming deliberations. Typically, they expect people to do whatever it takes to get the job done and overlook minor details like a life.  Sensors can be intense and very blunt. They lack subtlety and are uncomfortable with ambiguity and are more likely to give commands than make polite requests. Sensors are likely to express a direct and energetic approach to work and life.

Their work space is cluttered with a look of disorganisation.

Tips to connect with each type

In a job interview, you need to emphasis the people aspects of your achievements. Talk with warmth and enthusiasm.

At work, make sure you listen before issuing directives; they resist being told what to do if they feel their perspective has not been heard.  Feelers work best in an environment that prioritises cooperation, loyalty and stability. They may not feel comfortable moving forward until everyone on the team has had a chance to provide input. 


In a job interview, reach them by highlighting the innovative aspects of your achievements.   Talk with energy and enthusiasm.  

At work, enable them to collaborate to maximise their potential. Intuitors may need help developing practical solutions. Because they can struggle with details and follow-through, organising projects with short timeframes can be helpful.  They are more focused on the ‘why’ than the ‘how’ and are excellent visionaries. They prefer informal discussions to formal meetings and enjoy friendly small talk among team members. They are very comfortable expressing their feelings and navigating emotional decision-making. 


In a job interview, get their attention by stressing the facts-based elements of your achievements. Talk in a deliberate, measured way.

At work, expect them to ask many questions before they feel comfortable moving forward. Thinkers may struggle with ‘big picture’ thinking if they feel it’s not well thought-out. They are uncomfortable with small talk and emotional decision-making.  They like process, precision and details. They analyse a project or problem from multiple perspectives to ensure that every possible angle has been considered. They enjoy learning and demonstrating new skills. They thrive in environments with clear expectations, firm deadlines, and the opportunity to work independently. 


In a job interview, appeal to the Sensor by getting to the point and stressing action in your achievements. Talk quickly and confidently.

When working with a Sensor, it’s most effective to be clear and concise, and avoid unnecessary details. While they often need to work on patience and sensitivity, co-workers should try to avoid taking their bluntness and lack of subtlety as personal criticism. 

Changing your style does work

Learning about personal styles will help you get a deeper understanding of your own preferred style of communication. But it will also help you understand the best communication style to use with other according to THEIR preferences. This will improve your ability to interact with colleagues and clients and will positively influence how they perceive what you are asking them to do.

Coming back to my efforts to persuade my husband, my natural style is Intuitor-Sensor.  I’m always raving on about the latest article I’ve read and the improvements we can make if we adopt this new idea (Intuitor).  And, those of you who know me will agree that I can be pretty forceful (Sensor).  Now, Phil is a Thinker through and through. So, he’s never naturally going to want to respond to any of my ideas immediately, especially if I haven’t laid a methodical, systematic basis for my suggestion.

These days, I present my opinion in a quiet, detailed and self-contained way.  And, instead of trying to force a quick response, I say… ‘Have a think about it and we can follow it up tomorrow.’  Lo and behold, when I raise the issue again the following day, guess what?  He agrees with my suggestion. It’s because I’ve learned to communicate with influence.

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