Sunday, September 18, 2005

Styles of Communications

Below you can find a quotation from a book I like. The quotation describes the communication style I primarily use for technical discussions. Sure, it depends on a topic, participants and my desire to use it :-)

The Socratic style of communications is similar to the method of teaching Socrates used in which a series of questions leads the answerer to a logical conclusions. The Noble will tell you his or her conclusion or bottom line right up front. The Socratic doesn't do that. Socratics predetermine the logic of the situation and attempt to lead the other person in the interaction to reach the same conclusion through a series of questions and answers. Socratics, of course, believe that this conclusion is the appropriate and logical one and typically will not give up until you too reach this very same conclusion. As such, the Socratic tends to be the most directive and controlling of the three dominant-style communicators.

This Socratic question-and-answer technique can be troublesome because it appears that the Socratic is lecturing the other person, and this creates a defensive and combative communication climate. However, if the other person understands that the Socratic is just being Socratic and not lecturing or talking down to him or her, then conflict may be reduced.

Socratics are persuasive communicators and do well in advertising and public relations. They understand the process of persuasion and use the process effectively. Nobles, in contrast, usually don't attempt to persuade; they just tell you what the end result should be and expect that you will do what you believe is appropriate. They won't think you're very bright if you don't do what they would do, but then, they believe you have the right to be wrong. Reflectives listen and ask questions and, depending on the situation, may offer and opinion. As a rule, they do not exert a tremendous effort to convince or persuade. The Socratic, however, vigorously attempts to persuade and lead other person in the interaction to accept the final conclusion as appropriate, logical, and desirable. And the Socratic will continue to engage in the discussion until this goal is achieved.

Socratics tend to be very persuasive communicators, but they are the least persuadable of the three dominant-style communicators. It is almost impossible to get Socratics to change their minds once they are made up -- perhaps because they feel they have so thoroughly researched the topic that it is not possible for them to be incorrect.

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