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better relationship. When we looked at the resulting profiles,
we were surprised to see that all 20 participants had a
difficult relationship with the same person, who was an
This analytical person was their general manager (GM).
He had been promoted to GM based on his outstanding
success in a technical role. The managers who reported to
him all had high respect for his technical abilities, but no trust
whatsoever in his ability to relate to and manage people.
The weakness of the analytical type in building trust is due
to a lack of openness, and especially an unwillingness to
share how they feel. Consequently, they often struggle to
establish relationships with people.
We were able to resolve this by discussing the situation
with the CEO, and stressing the strengths of this GM in
technical matters, but weakness in leading people. The GM
was moved to a new national technical role, which made
great use of his strengths and maintained his status. His
previous team continued to respect his technical skills, and
were delighted to get a new manager whose strength was
leading people. The former GM was also relieved to have no
people to manage.
These communication styles also correlate to different
ideas on how to use time, as the following example from
our casebook shows. Jim, a Business Developer who is a
promoter, meets with Freda, a CFO who is an analytical.
Jim starts the meeting by chatting about the football, the
weather, asking what the CFO did on the weekend and
so on. Jim thinks he is ‘breaking the ice’ and establishing
rapport with Freda, but she is losing patience with Jim and
sees him as a time waster. The meeting does not end well.
You can see how different these four styles are in their
drivers or needs, and in their behaviours. Not understanding
or not recognising different communication styles can
quickly lead to conflict and mistrust.
We can also see that if you deal with people in the way you
prefer to behave, but their style is different from yours, then
you will find it hard to get the result that you need.
There are four behaviours you need to enact consistently to
be good at building trust. They are:
openness: share ideas and information freely, and be
open to other opinions
acceptance: don’t judge people – accept them as they
reliability: always deliver on your commitments
congruence: make sure that your words and actions
always match – don’t say one thing and then do
Which communication style are you?
Which of the four communication styles do you think your
business colleagues would say best describes you?
Observe the words and behaviours of your colleagues, and
decide which communication style best describes each of
them. Think about how you can modify your own behaviour
to get better results with them.
The Business Relationship app
When we coach people in how to develop high-level skills
in influence and persuasion, we also equip them with the
Business Relationship app. By using this app on their iPad
or smart phone, they can quickly profile anyone they are
dealing with and get instant feedback on-screen about that
person’s communication style, and what to do to build and
Two more essential skills
Once you understand how to identify and relate to the
different communication styles, you will have mastered the
top three skills for risk managers identified in Aon’s Global
Risk Management Survey.
In our experience at Dawson McDonald Consulting, there
are at least two other skill sets that are essential for risk
managers who want to help their organisations to build
and maintain a positive risk culture, where thinking about
managing risk is part of ‘how things get done around here’.
understanding and managing organisational politics
effective change management.
Applying your understanding of different communication
styles is primarily the exercise of influence and persuasion
at the interpersonal level.
Understanding and managing organisational politics is
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