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Decoding People: How to Build Better Relationships

“The best communicators are those who can adapt their styles to suit those of other people.” Ama Verdi-Ashton

Have you ever played ‘Broken telephone’? You know the kid’s game where one person whispers something into the ear of the person next to them. The message gets passed along until the last person says it out loud. What starts as ‘10 small puppies’ ends up being ‘5 zen monkeys.’ As a kid, I loved this game because the end result was always a surprise and never the original message!

Communication has existed for as long as mankind. From symbols and drawings, to scripts and storytelling, to emojis and the internet, communication is perhaps the most significant aspect of human interaction and expression.

Communication is the transfer of information between a sender and a receiver. It’s so simple and yet so complex. It is influenced by emotions and context as well as body language and eye contact. The same message can be received in completely different ways which is at the core of misunderstandings and conflicts as well as the suspense and fun of ‘Broken telephone.’

Since communication has been around for so long, it is clearly vital to our survival and, ultimately, our success.

In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • Different people, different communication styles

  • Importance and barriers to communication

  • Knowing myself and the 4-step process

Crafting Connections: Embracing Diverse Communication Styles

One of the four core components of emotional intelligence is social skills and being able to effectively communicate. Knowing our own communication style and that of others allows us to adapt ourselves so we can be better understood by others and understand others better. This in turn, helps us to effectively communicate and improve our relationships.

There are four communication styles and although they do not define us, they can help us to recognize our patterns of thinking, speaking and acting.

Communication Style



Can be perceived as


Independent, Action-oriented, Efficient

Persistent, Determined, Decisive

Controlling, Insensitive, Unforgiving


Enthusiastic, Persuasive, Spontaneous

Compassion, Warmth, Generosity

Disorganized, Undisciplined, Dramatic


Cooperative, Supportive, Patient

Organized, Dependable, Easy-going


Stubborn, Self-protective


Logical, Rule-based, Thorough

Sensitive, Self-disciplined, Precise

Critical, Rigid, Unsociable

Which of the four styles or mix of styles do you feel reflects your way of thinking, speaking and acting? If you would like to find out your social style, check out this free assessment tool, Changeosity.

Now that we know a bit more about the four social styles, let’s take a look at strategies to adapt to each style.

  • Driver: respect their time, stick to the facts, follow up on promises.

  • Expressive: Recognize their contributions, leave time to talk socially, focus on the big picture.

  • Amiable: Take time to get to know them, provide reassurance, present your views in a quiet and non-threatening way.

  • Analytical: Give them time to think, ask direct questions and give direct feedback, be organized.

Most importantly, these communication styles can help us to develop and empathize with others, all while staying authentic to ourselves. It's not about being a chameleon, but about having empathy and emotional intelligence to effectively convey information in a way that the listener will understand.

Communicate to Connect: Understanding the Importance and Barriers

Communication is important for work and everyday life including resolving conflict, expressing ideas, and building trust and connection. Communication involves not only verbal but also non-verbal cues, such as body language, as well as written and listening skills. 

Let’s take a look at some barriers to effective communication. 

  • Personal agenda: When someone is speaking and rather than listening, we focus on what we want to say next.

  • Being distracted: Distractions can come from the environment, such as phone notifications, as well as, internal, such as strong emotions.

  • Assumptions: Assumptions about a person, situation, reason or implications, as well as, assuming the other person draws the same conclusion. 

  • Incongruent cues: Saying one thing but expressing something different through body language.

  • Dysfunctional responses: Interrupting others, not responding, or responding with an irrelevant comment.

Now that we've explored some common barriers to communication, let's shift our focus to effective strategies that can help overcome these obstacles and foster clearer, more meaningful interactions.

  • Face the other person and give them your attention: Focus on the other person, what they are saying. Make eye contact, and avoid checking phone notifications.

  • Keep an open mind: Do not judge or criticize what the other person is saying. Let the other person finish before speaking and try to understand what is being said rather than reacting or taking things personally.

  • Use active listening techniques: repeat back what is said to clarify misunderstandings, use verbal and non-verbal cues to show concern including eye contact, nodding, and “Thank you.”

  • Just listen: Be attentive and relaxed, ask questions for clarification and think about what the other person is saying rather than about how to respond.

Speak to Unite: How Communication Breaks Barriers

Did you know?

Here are four leaders who display the power of communication:

  • Brené Brown is a professor and researcher with two viral TED talks about the power of vulnerability for innovation, creativity, and adaptability.

  • Scott Kelly is an American astronaut who found common ground with a fellow Russian astronaut by putting personal differences aside to work together for 340 days while up in space.

  • Michelle Obama, former first lady, engages packed audiences by speaking truthfully and earnestly with a touch of humour.

  • Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, used her position to speak publicly about the challenges the company was facing.

Navigating Communication with Self-Awareness and Honesty

Understanding the barriers to communication and strategies we can use to communicate more effectively are important but perhaps the most crucial component is understanding oneself, also known as self-awareness.

The world is a looking glass. It gives back to us a true reflection of our own thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. Buddha

Since the world is a reflection of our mind, then we see and hear the world and others according to our own perspective. We can’t actually understand others if we first don’t understand ourselves. This is why self-awareness is so important because it allows us to understand ourselves and others. How can we develop self-awareness? This is where meditation comes in.

Meditation is a tool that enables us to see ourselves from a bigger perspective. As humans, we go through life accumulating thoughts, ideas and concepts based on our experiences. We also inherit thoughts and habits from our parents. 

Our mind is formed from our experiences and the experiences inherited from our parents. These thoughts shape our behaviors, actions, habits and, ultimately, our destiny. We are literally pre-programmed and act, or rather react, according to our programming. 

We struggle with communication, feel misunderstood, have conflicts and blame others because of our mind. The way to change is to change our programming. We can do this through meditation. 

Now that we know how crucial self-awareness is, let’s turn out attention to a 4-step process for better communication.

Embrace the Discomfort: A 4-Step Guide to Growth

Oftentimes, communication breaks down because we don’t want to deal with discomfort, such as an uncomfortable conversation. We deny uncomfortable truths to help cope with a situation. This is the same as an ostrich that buries its head in the sand to avoid danger. Ultimately, though, denial is not a long-term solution. 

Refusing to accept uncomfortable truths is choosing to accept an uncomfortable future.” Steve Bartlett

Diary of a CEO founder, Steve Bartlett, talks about a 4-step process to growing and dealing with discomfort in his book, The 33 Laws of Business and Life.

The 4-step process includes:

  • Pause and acknowledge: When we pause and acknowledge that something is not right, we create space for the next step.

  • Reflect: Articulate the feelings, emotions and behaviors that are coming up. Identify a need that is being unmet. We need to get outside of ourselves so we can diagnose rather than frame and blame. Note: this is meditation!

  • Speak honestly without blame: When we talk about our disconnections, we create more connections.

  • See the truth: Listen to understand and overcome a difficulty.

We cannot reach our highest potential without a better relationship with discomfort.” Steve Bartlett

When we face our fears and discomforts, we can think better and make better decisions that will help us to overcome, grow and build more successful outcomes.

The Path Forward: Wrapping Up

Effective communication is not just about speaking and listening, it's about understanding ourselves and others. By recognizing the four communication styles, Driver, Expressive, Amiable, and Analytical, we gain insight into our own patterns of thinking, speaking, and acting, as well as those of others.

By knowing the four communication styles, addressing barriers to communication head-on and using active listening techniques, we can create clearer, more meaningful interactions.

Understanding ourselves is fundamental to understanding others, and meditation is the most powerful tool we have at our disposal. The more self-aware we are, the more we can speak honestly, overcome conflicts and build deeper connections.

Embracing discomfort is key to growth. Steve Bartlett's 4-step process, pausing and acknowledging, reflecting, speaking honestly without blame, and seeing the truth, provides a roadmap for navigating discomfort and overcoming obstacles in communication. 

Our greatest regrets are the decisions we didn’t make, the ones we avoided because of fear. Steve Bartlett

By facing our fears head-on, we can unlock our highest potential and build more successful outcomes in our relationships and our lives.

If you’re wondering how to start, we have a monthly meditation class that will help enhance communication skills. This class will help to cultivate the self-awareness needed to effectively communicate. The best time to start is now, so let’s build our best life!

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