Use the appropriate behavioural style

There is a wide range of behavioral styles one can use when interacting with people. A novice is comfortable with one or two styles, and uses them repeatedly. A master chooses the style that suits the situation. Using the same limited style and media can never be as effective as choosing the appropriate way to suit each person and situation.

  • Use the right tone and volume. Tone of voice is more powerful in communicating your true feelings and intention than words, so master your voice. You can also change your volume to suit your intention – and avoid being too loud (appearing domineering) or too soft (appearing fearful).
  • Use the whole range between questions and instructions, between ask mode and tell mode. Using only one mode continuously is ineffective and can be irritating.
  • In a hotel restaurant I heard a young person ask his business associate about the latter’s education. Did you get an MBA? Where did you do it? How long did it take? What did you major in? How much did it cost? So on and so forth. It is just as annoying if a person uses the tell mode without change. Example: Below are different ways of saying the same thing. Depending on your tone and the personality of the listener, the first could sound bossy and the last submissive.
    – See me at my office.
    – Let’s meet in my office.
    – Let’s meet. How about at my office?
    – Can we meet?
  • Adjust the level of expression and feelings. Some people never reveal their feelings while others overdo it. There is an appropriate level for each situation.
  • Use the appropriate body language. Avoid showing your discomfort, and align with the other person’s body language. If the other person is feeling insecure, empathise with him through body language. Example: if the other person folds his arms across the front, follow him. Caveat: it takes some skill to avoid parroting.
  • Vary between focus on people and priority for tasks. While both are important, sometimes one has to take the back seat.

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