Communication is a key part of our daily lives and a critical process in everything that we engage in. Whether we’re designing and building websites, helping clients realize a successful digital strategy for their brand, or simply just interacting with friends and family, communication always plays a role.

However, that communication has two critical components—the “what” and the “how”—and often, how we communicate is just as important, if not more so, than what we communicate.

Here are a few tips for improving the “how” in your communication with others:

  • Tip #1: Understand. It’s important to understand that different individuals have different communication styles. There’s an intimidatingly large corpus out there on communication theory, but even a simple framework can be helpful. The included figure presents one of many ways to look at communication styles—blue, red, green, and yellow. You won’t necessarily be purely one color, but as a thought exercise, try to identify what color you match up with the most, as well as what color some of your colleagues or friends might be.

Communication Styles

  • Tip #2: Be aware. By being conscious of the existence of different communication patterns and the differences that can arise from differing styles, you can often identify and resolve emerging problems before they spiral out of control. It’s just as important to be aware of your own communication pattern and tendencies as it is to be aware of that of others.
  • Tip #3: Be flexible. It’s often easier to change your own communication style than to change the style of others. Once you recognize both your own and others’ communication patterns, you can adapt as needed depending on who you’re interacting with.

Understanding your audience and contrasting communication styles can help to prevent roadblocks. Better communication will improve performance and efficiency, reduce stress and friction in your processes, and allow you to work better together as a team.

A special thank you to our friends at Startup Institute Chicago for sharing the knowledge on which some of the above content is based.