Competent about Communication Styles?

As speech-language pathologists, WE ARE the communication experts. We’re trained to hone in on our clients’ communication strengths and weaknesses to determine if there is a delay/disorder. We’re trained to support our clients’ communication needs. Here’s the thing! We work with our clients in addition to parents,  teachers, advocates, principals, other speech-language pathologists, aides, and the list goes on and on! By identifying your own communication style and the communication style of others, we can work together more effectively.

In People Styles at Work and Beyond, 2nd Edition, Robert & Dorothy Grover Bolton describe 4 types of communicators that we will encounter in the workplace: Drivers, Expressives, Analyticals, and Amiables. Descriptions of the various communication styles are below. Keep in mind that individuals may have characteristics of at least 2 styles!

DRIVERS are fast paced, rapid communicators, and they crave task completion. They excel at time management. They are decisive yet may change their minds and direction quickly.

Since drivers are more task oriented than people oriented, more people oriented communicators such as Analyticals are Amiables may become irritated or offended at drivers’ quick pursuit toward task completion.

EXPRESSIVES exude energy and are the most outgoing of all of the communication styles. They thrive on bold ideas and projects. Expressives are constantly searching for the action, so they are drawn to fast-moving projects or occupations. They tend to be visionaries and don’t only dream big, but dream HUGE. They sometimes have difficulty analyzing the feasibility of their ideas and following through on ideas may be challenging. Additionally, they can be impulsive and change directions at the last minute.

AMIABLES are very people-oriented. They are friendly, easy-going, and empathetic. They like to work with others and are unlikely to seek power for themselves. They are superb team players and will go above and beyond to help a coworker. They crave harmony with their coworkers and are concerned about the ‘human’ effects of decisions. They are hesitant to express criticism and may be reluctant to give constructive criticism to others.

ANALYTICALS want the job done correctly and set the bar high for themselves. They prefer quality over quantity and tend to have perfectionistic tendencies. They crave procedures, organization, and data so they can perform at a high level and make calculated decisions. They may be punctual for appointments but tardy for deadlines because they may work at a slower pace than other styles. They are the quietest of all communication styles and approach concerns logically and take into consideration all of the details in a situation.

All communication styles benefit the workplace; each style brings strengths that can propel a workplace to success. Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each style and learn how to adapt your thoughts and behavior to your coworkers’ communication styles. Watch how productivity in your organization soars!

Now consider each communication style’s strengths and weaknesses

 Drivers’ strengths/weaknesses if strength is overused:

Independent → Poor Collaborator

Results Oriented → Impersonal

Candid → Abrasive

      Pragmatic → Short-sighted


Expressives’ strengths/weaknesses if strength is overused

Articulate → Poor Listener

Fast-paced →  Impatient

Visionary →  Impractical

  Fun-loving →  Distracting



Amiables’ strengths/weaknesses if strength is overused

Diplomatic → Conflict avoider

Cautious →  Risk averse

Supportive →  Permissive

People-oriented →  Inattentive to task

Amiables’ strengths/weaknesses if strength is overused

Painstaking →  Nitpicky

                                                       Prudent → Indecisive

Systematic →  Bureaucratic

Task-oriented →  Impersonal



In the next post we’ll begin to discuss how to adapt our communication with others depending on their communication style. You will learn eye-opening, easy to implement tips that you can implement the very next time you go to work!

References: Bolton, B. & Grover Bolton, D. (2009). People Styles at Work and Beyond, Second Edition. New York, NY: Ridge Associates, Inc.

You’re a communication expert. Why is it often so challenging to communicate productively with colleagues and parents? Because you’re human, and effective communication, like any other acquired skill, must be explicitly learned. Check out this course:

The Kids are the Easy Part. I Have to Work With Grownups?!
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