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Communication Styles

What are your goals? Do you want to rise up the ranks at your company, or branch out and start your own business? Are you focused on becoming a better provider for your family?

No matter if your goals are related to your career, family, health or finances, you have to realize one important thing: You’ll never get what you want unless you learn how to become an effective communicator. Being a powerful communicator doesn’t mean you speak the loudest or most often; rather, you are getting your message across clearly and also taking in the messages you’re receiving from the people around you. You rely on deep listening tactics, such as maintaining eye contact and reading nonverbal cues, but you also use your knowledge of metaprograms.

Metaprograms, or the different ways that people process information, are the key to unlocking valuable communication skills. These powerful internal programs influence our thoughts and directly affect our behavior. Once you understand the six different metaprograms, you can get a better read on your audience and immensely improve your communication style, which ultimately helps you to not only connect with others, but to achieve your goals.

Moving toward or away

metaprogram communication

Human behavior can be divided into two categories: Those who avoid pain and those who pursue pleasure. Which one are you? Are you moving toward something or away from something? Imagine two people who book train tickets for their next journey. The first person bought a train ticket to get to their destination because they’re extremely afraid of being in an airplane – they’re avoiding pain. The second person decided to travel via train because they want to enjoy the journey. They’re looking to gain pleasure from taking in the local scenery and enjoying a good book during the ride.

As you look to communicate with those around you, ask if those you’re speaking to are moving toward or away. A rule of thumb is to ask what that person wants. If they start listing things they don’t want – they don’t want to fail, they don’t want to be stuck in the same dead-end job – or talking about what they do want – a family, to succeed at their job – then you’ll know how to direct the conversation.

Internal and external frames of reference

What are you motivated by? When you accomplish a goal, is it enough for you to tell yourself you did something amazing, or do you seek validation from those around you? Everyone looks at the world from either an internal or external frame of reference. Internal people are able to evaluate whether they did a good job or not themselves, while external people seek praise elsewhere.

When trying to communicate effectively with someone who has an internal frame of reference, appeal to the things they know about themselves. Tie your communication to a personal fact you already know about that person. Those with an external frame of reference want to hear more about what their peers thought about a given program or decision.

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How people sort themselves

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We all sort ourselves in two distinct ways: We either self-sort or sort by thinking about others. Self-sorters look at an interaction or decision and think, “What’s in it for me?” Someone who sorts by thinking of others responds to questions by wondering how it will affect those around them.

Both categories have their strengths and weaknesses, but if your primary communication role is in the office and you have to hire people, you need to think about these categories during interviews. Is a self-sorter the right fit for a team-oriented position? Do you think they’ll stay with your company for the long run? Or does someone who thinks about others appeal more to your business and its future growth?

Matching or mismatching

When presented with new information, people can think of a variety of ways to interpret it. No matter how many references come into their mind, they will always do one of two things: match or mismatch. Matchers look for sameness in the world, trying to understand how things relate to each other. Mismatchers, on the other hand, see how things are different. If you’re looking to be persuasive with someone, you want to see things through their eyes and communicate in a way they can relate to, whether it’s via matching or mismatching.

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Convincing people

communicating in an effective way

You had a relationship in the past, be it romantic or platonic, in which you had to repeatedly let that person know you were there for them. Even if you told them every day that you wanted to support them, they consistently needed the reassurance. There are other people in your life who developed a deep bond with you on the day you met. The connection was established immediately and they knew from the start that they felt comfortable trusting you. Part of establishing trust, or being able to convince someone, is sensing the different needs of different people. If you’re trying to sell someone a product, and they trust you immediately, you know you’re going to be able to do your job. On the other hand, if you sense you’re with someone who needs more convincing, turn to the other metaprograms and see if there’s a tool you can use to help develop a bond with your potential customer.

Possibility vs. necessity

The last metaprogram that dominates our lives is the principle of possibility vs. necessity. Some people are motivated by possibility; they make choices based on what they want to do and are hopeful about pursuing the unknown. Those who make decisions based on necessity do things because they feel they have to. People who are driven by acts out of a feeling of necessity are trustworthy and can be predictable. Both types of people have their virtues, but in order to get your message across to either one, it helps to identify who is who.

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The key to getting what you want out of life is not only working toward your goals, but in communicating with those around you. Your message will resonate more intensely if you’re able to decipher which type of metaprograms a person relies on. You also can’t underestimate the power of body language. When you’re speaking to someone, think about your presence. Are you maintaining eye contact? Are you establishing a connection by leaning in and creating a welcoming space? Make it a habit to deliver firm handshakes and to stop fidgeting. All of these nonverbal modifications, and a deep understanding of metaprograms, will help to establish yourself as someone who is strong, smart and capable. Once you’ve refined your communication skills, you can utilize them to help you reach your goals.

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