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By: Florence Stone

Basically, there are four dominant communication styles: (1) activator, (2) analyzer, (3) affiliator, and (4) conceptualizer. We all practice each of these, but we generally have one dominant style. For instance, the analyzer style places high value on facts, figures, data, and rational thinking. On the other hand, a conceptualizer is known for the high value he or she places on ideas. The activator is someone who is focused on the present—he won’t listen if you talk to him about future opportunities. This person has lots of drive and gets things done but he is often thought by peers as impulsive and often acts before he or she thinks. The fourth and final communication style—affiliation—places high value on personal relationships and interpersonal contacts. Someone who is primarily an affiliator is warm and understanding but may also be defensive or thin-skinned, very emotional or moody, and easily swayed.

So, for analyzers, you might say, “Let me walk you through this proposal, step by step” or “Let’s look at this in a logical, systematic way.”

To an affiliator, you might offer: “Let’s get reacquainted again, before we get down to business” or “Why don’t we talk about it over lunch” or “It would be helpful to get you involved in this from the very first stage.”

In persuading a conceptualizer, you might open the discussion by saying, “I have a rather unique approach for you—something that has never been tried before” or “This will pay off in the long term” or “Let me begin by first giving you an overview of the key concepts involved.”

Activators are best approached this way: “We can get on it right away” or, along the same lines, “Suppose I skip the details and just hit the highlights.” Or you might try, “We tried to select the most practical approach. What do you think?”

About the Author(s)

Florence Stone is editorial director of American Management Association.