What style of communication do you have? Is it similar or drastically different from your spouse? In this lesson, we will introduce four categories of communication and help you figure out your communication profile.
Who is responsible for ensuring that a couple’s communication is completely understood by both people? Often in a marriage, regardless of how stable or loving, communication is among one of the most critical skills each partner must harness. In fact, most issues which arise in a marriage are created from poor communication. The good news is, excellent communication is a universal skill that anyone can learn. What’s amazing is that once you improve your communication skill, it can be utilized in every aspect of your life.
At ENARI, we have given the topic of communication considerable thought because everyday we see couples that struggle around this issue. Rarely will a couple find they have the same style for delivering and taking in information, but we do find that most couples just “deal with it” in an often dysfunctional and damaging manner. Blaming, arguing, frustration, and ultimately resentment become the norm, especially with couples who have been together for decades. Remember, your behaviors as individuals, your skills (or lack of skills) combine to create habitual norms in the relationship. These norms become your dysfunctions. At ENARI, we believe in looking at relationship challenges with fresh eyes, so we have put together the following list of four communication categories we see as the most common among couples today.
When you start to read about the four different categories which are composed of two different styles, you will find that you are a mix of all four categories, where the styles may differ from your spouse. Just figure out what the strongest style is and work with that. For example, you can be an internal processor that’s to the point, who is also a thinker and thinks locally. Or you could be an external processor who’s a story-teller, and is also a doer who thinks globally. Just pick one aspect of each of the four categories that best describes you and compare it with your spouse.
The most important thing to do is to start to recognize that you have different styles of communication, accept that they are different, and then work on how to communicate more effectively. Sometimes, just the recognition that someone does it differently can be a kick start to paying more attention and listening, even if it’s very frustrating dealing with someone who communicates differently than you.
The key is to have an idea of how both of you communicate so that you and your spouse can bridge the gaps and see what each one of you needs in order to have great communication.
The four categories of communication:
1. Internal Processing vs. External Processing
The way that we process our thoughts can be internally, meaning that you process a question, problem, or a situation silently in your head. You ponder all the parameters silently before arriving at an idea or solution.
The other method people use for processing is external, meaning you must talk through all of the challenging details out loud. When the external processing individual is presented with a problem that needs to be solved, they tend to walk through the process, the pros and cons, and the outcomes verbally. Often the external processor needs to verbalize their thinking to another person, or they can merely talk out loud to themselves. Either way, an external communicator struggles to process in silent and will shut down in their interaction should someone attempt to force them to do so.
2. Storyteller vs. To-the-point
If you are a storyteller, then you need to tell the whole story before coming to the point that you are trying to make. You want to provide background information that may be pertinent or, in some cases, could be left out. For you to make the point, you need to present the whole picture. If you are the to-the-point communicator, you will pepper in the most critical details before you make the point. Sometimes you will make a stand-alone point that has no background, no situation explanation, or anything else because to you this is simple.
3. Thinker vs. doer
A thinker will plan out the steps and processes to reach the desired goal. They will probably have the entire problem planned out before they take the first step of action. A doer goes with the flow; they like to build an airplane in flight. In other words, the doer doesn’t need a plan as long as they have a starting point and an end point in mind because they rely on instinct to solve challenges.
4. Local vs. global
Local communicators see things as small and individual tasks. If you have a conversation with a local communicator, you will get a granular view of the problem and how each little thing impacts all of the other little things. This style is like focusing on a tiny detail in a picture and then zooming out so you can see the entire image. When talking to a global communicator they have an overall, encompassing picture of what’s happening. Someone who talks in global terms is going outside in, almost like zooming in from a more extensive image to the smallest details.
Have you found the ways that you communicate and the ways that your spouse expresses ideas, talks about issues, and solves problems?