What Kind of Communicator Are You?
In many of our graduate writing courses, we use a diagnostic tool to assist, in particular, our working professional graduate students to understand their communication styles. The Communication Preference Profile, developed by organizational communication experts Michelle K. Johnston, Larry L. Barker and Kittie W. Watson in 2011, uses 20 questions and a five-point Likert scale for measuring communication preferences in the workplace. From their answers, professionals can discover whether they tend to be People-Oriented, Action-Oriented, Content-Oriented, or Technology-Oriented communicators—or a mix of more than one preference.
Four Types of Communication Preferences
The Communication Preference Profile breaks down the strengths and challenges of each type of communicator, providing helpful tips to professionals for understanding how their orientation might be ideally suited to one aspect of their jobs and yet throw up barriers in others. For example, a people-oriented communicator thrives in sales by connecting with others’ feelings but can sometimes internalize or take highly personally someone else’s negative attitudes. At the same time, a content-oriented communicator is a master of complex and challenging information but may thrash about helplessly in thickets of explanation that lose her colleagues as she delves into overly-detailed explanations.
The key to strong workplace communication is not only understanding your own strengths and weaknesses but also grasping the preferences of your colleagues and superiors. For example, if you report to an action-oriented boss, but you’re content-oriented, you need to learn to pare your presentations to strictly the facts necessary for her to take action. Or, if you’re a people-oriented head of an IT unit, you need to understand that your employees will fail to see the necessity of meeting face-to-face when an email, IMs, or Skype would prove equally useful.