Understanding 4 Communication Styles To Improve Your Own

Four communication styles

SOCO’s Four Communication Styles

Different customers and prospects have unique ways that they like to communicate based on their own communication style. They typically fall into one of four communication styles based on two factors. Those two factors are your level of sociability and your level of dominance. “SOCO” is a quadrant model and an acronym for the four communication styles: Supportive, Open, Closed, and Organized.

Below we share the difference between the 4 different communication styles so you know how to spot which quadrant your customers and prospects fall into.

Understanding the different communication styles and how to handle each individually can drastically improve your relationship and ability to connect with other people

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Supportive Communication Style

Supportive Communication Style

Supportive communicators have a high sociability level and low dominance. What exactly does that mean? High sociability means they’re very friendly, outgoing, helpful, and thoughtful; They’re quick to form relationships and business friendships.

Supportive communicators like a lot of information. They like to take their time to make decisions and absorb information. These are the people that often request detailed summaries or more often, the whole report. So it should come as no surprise that they typically won’t send you a short email; it’s going to be a long detailed email.

Communicating with the Supportive Communication Style

Because of their naturally friendly nature, they love to engage in conversation; If you’re meeting with them, it’s wise to ask them about their weekend, friends, or family. Have they seen the latest films? What are they reading at the moment?

You want to reciprocate their language by being very sociable and friendly with them because that’s how they are. Remember, it’s critical you always give them lots of information – don’t rush them into deciding because they need time to absorb, digest, and ruminate.

Open Communication Style

Open Communication Style

The Open communication style has both a high level of sociability and a high level of dominance. Open communicators tend to be expressive and excitable, often seeming restless.

They’re open (obviously), honest, and friendly; You know where you stand with them. Like Supportive communicators, they’re very friendly and sociable, and they like to form relationships quickly, like a business friendship, so they’re speedy to build relationships with you.

What’s the difference between the Supportive and Open communication styles?

Supportive communicators take their time-making decisions, they often don’t want to tell you “no” because they don’t want to hurt your feelings and want lots of background information. On the other hand, Open communicators tend to make decisions quickly, and they don’t need or want a lot of information.

They’re content with simply the bullet points because they tend to make decisions based on gut instincts. Therefore it’s fair to say they’re fairly spontaneous in their decision-making, whereas the former is calculated in their actions.

Rather than saying, “Hmm, let me think about it and get back to you after I review this information,” as the Supportive communicator would, Open communicators are more likely to say, “You know what, I think we can do something. Let’s get started.”

Closed Communication Style

Closed Communication Style

The Closed communication style has a high level of dominance and a low level of sociability. Meaning that Closed communicators tend to be demanding, aggressive, determined, and often frank.

They like to get down to business quickly, so they’re not seeking be your friend. They don’t care about your weekend. They don’t care about any personal aspects of your life. A stark comparison compared to the other communication styles such as the Open which is high sociability and the Closed is low sociability.

What are the similarities between these communication styles?

In terms of dominance, both the Open and the Closed tend to make decisions quickly; however the Open makes decisions based on how they feel about you, whilst the Closed make decisions based on the facts. They want succinct written summaries as well, but prefer to review the facts to determine whether or not they do business with you.

One of the keys to dealing with the Closed communicator is: don’t waste their time. They’re very conscious of time because they’re busy, always seeming to be in a hurry. Therefore you must get to the meeting on time or, better yet, early. Always endeavor to be respectful of their time, and end the meeting on time or early.

Organized Communication Style

The Organized communication style has a low level of sociability and a low level of dominance, so naturally, they tend to be reserved and cautious.

The Closed communication style and the Organized communication style are both in low sociability. What does that mean? They don’t like chit chat, they don’t want to get too personal, and definitely don’t want to find out about your personal relationships. They’re not interested in forming any friendship per se; they’d rather get down to business and keep things at a professional level.

Comparing Communication Styles

The organized person doesn’t want bullet points, so they don’t make decisions quickly – just like the Supportive.

The Supportive also wants lots of information and takes their time to make decisions. However, the Supportive also has high sociability. In contrast, the Organized has low sociability. So you want to be acutely mindful of this difference.

When dealing with an Organized communication style, you want to appear very organized, professional, structured, thorough, detailed, and on time. You cannot rush them into making a decision. They don’t respond well to that type of pressure.

Instead, use techniques that work well, like “I’m happy to send you all the information you need. Please take your time and review it carefully. This is a significant decision, and you shouldn’t rush into it. Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m happy to provide you with more supporting documents if needed.”

Know how to 'Style Flex' with different communication styles

Style Flexing: The Key To Connecting With All Communication Styles

Your job as a sales professional is to help your prospect feel as comfortable as possible. This means communicating with them in a manner unique to their personality. This is what we like to call style flexing.

It’s a universal truth that People like people like them. They’re comfortable with people who are like themselves. However, please make no mistake; this isn’t simply a case of mirroring their gestures, parroting, or paraphrasing. Rather you want to adopt characteristics unique to their communication style.

If you want to sell successfully to all of the communication styles – Supportive, Open, Closed, and Organized – you need to Style Flex. Adapt your style to suit that of your customer. That will help you to build rapport and trust, establish credibility, and close those important deals.

Improving Your Communication Style

Improving your communication style, manners, voice quality, and non-verbal communication contributes to your success in personal selling.

Studies suggest the relatively small role played by words alone in the communication process: 7% by words alone, 38% from what is heard, 55% from what is seen or felt.

In order for you to be effective in sales you need to have a communication style that speaks effectively to prospects. Your voice quality, volume, how well you articulate, the way you dress, your posture, how you walk, your handshake, forms powerful and lasting impressions with prospects. How is your communication style helping or hurting you?

When you enter a room, believe and project that you have a reason to be there and something important to say. Your confidence will suggest that the meeting will benefit your prospective customer. What is your entrance and the manner in which you carry yourself, communicating about the importance of what you have to say?

A healthy handshake establishes the business relationship, signals active participation, and gives a message of confidence and goodwill. So what do you think a weak grip or bone-crushing grip communicates to your prospective customer? Eye contact is one of the best ways of saying, “I’m listening”, but of course, a prolonged direct stare can be threatening. Also, when your prospective customer speaks, nod occasionally to indicate agreement.

Remember that improving your communication style, manners, voice quality, and non-verbal communication contributes to your success in personal selling.

Communication styles infographic
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