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Understanding the 4 styles of business communications

5 min read | 12 October, 2021 By Laura Sands


It goes without saying that effective communications are key to business success. We look at 4 key styles of business communications and explore the ways these can be flexed to help improve collaboration.

After you've had a chance to read this blog, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Can peoples' communication styles change and evolve over time? Please add your comments to the box below. 

It’s difficult to think of a way in which communication doesn’t affect a business. From communicating company purpose and coaching employees, to telling potential customers why they should use your product or service, effective communication is a universal necessity for business success.

For this reason, your communication style affects more than you might think. That’s why it pays to understand more about the 4 communication styles and how they can affect the way others respond to you.

What are the 4 communication styles?

Why learn about the 4 communication styles?

Why is it important to flex your communication style?

Defining the 4 styles of business communications

How can you adapt your communication style?

Final thoughts

What are the 4 communication styles?

You may already be familiar with personality profiling such as Myers-Briggs or DiSC. The 4 communications styles are similar. Developed by leadership coach Mark Murphy, they profile the 4 broad communication preferences people have.

These are separate to personality profiles which makes it worth reviewing your team’s communication preferences, even if you’re all familiar with each other’s personality profiles.

Why learn about the 4 communication styles?

Each of us has a certain way we like to communicate. And chances are that there are some people who you prefer working with, simply because you either communicate in a similar way or complement the way each other work.

The flipside of course, is that there will be people who communicate differently to you. The way they communicate may frustrate, intimidate or even bore you. And chances are, they feel similarly about you.

Taking the time to learn about the 4 different communication styles will help you and others become more effective communicators.

  1. You will become more aware of your own communication style. You can use this knowledge to moderate some of your more extreme communication behaviours.
  2. You will become more aware of other people’s communication styles and learn how to adapt your approach to suit them.

Why is it important to flex your communication style?

Flexing your communication style to suit other people is essential if you want your message to resonate with as broad an audience as possible. As comfortable and easy as it is to stick to our preferred communication style, you’ll find it harder to communicate the details that are important when running a business. From your company vision to regular one-to-ones, flexing your communication style is a skill that will help you become a more effective leader and manager.

Defining the 4 styles of business communications


People with an analytical communication style love hard data and clearly defined tasks. They like to drill into the detail and understand the nitty-gritty of a situation. They dislike vague language and have limited patience for discussions that aren’t focused on the task in hand.

Pros: Analytical communicators leave no stone unturned and you can trust them to get right under the flesh of a situation. These logical individuals have a firm grasp of facts which means they’re often experts in their field.

Cons: Their desire to know EVERYTHING can unsettle others and feel controlling. They’re often suspicious of people without a strong command of the data. Their desire to focus on the facts can make them seem cold and unemotional and this can negatively affect their working relationships.


Intuitive communicators are the ‘big picture’ people. Wanting to cut to the chase, they prefer a broad overview of a situation and avoid getting bogged down in the details at all costs. They hate in-depth, step-by-step discussions and want to jump ahead to the summary.

Pros: People with this communication style are great at cutting out the nonsense and getting to the point. These people are comfortable with big ideas and don’t let a lack of background information stall them.

Cons: Their reluctance to engage with the detail behind the final result can put businesses and relationships at risk. They can be impatient with people who want to go through the details and their unemotional, to-the-point style can feel abrupt – something which can intimidate other styles of communicators.


Functional communicators like everything ticked off and done in the right order. With a focus on communicating all the necessary information, they’ll make sure you get a balanced end result.

Pros: Great at managing projects, these people make sure nothing gets missed and will hold people accountable for skimming the important (but less interesting or more difficult) details.

Cons: Their dogged determination to cover every point can leave more impatient types frustrated. They can often ‘lose the room’ when sharing updates because they insist on covering every detail.


Personal communicators see relationships as the most important factor. These are the people who tune into what’s going on beneath the surface. Often diplomatic, these people are excellent listeners and able to smooth over potential conflicts.

Pros: These people build strong relationships and have a network of people they can call upon. They’re excellent at picking up on the ‘vibes’ in a business or meeting because they tune into participants’ emotions.

Cons: Their emotional approach can be downplayed as ‘touchy-feely’ and frustrate more analytical communicators who see facts as more important than emotions. These people can be easily upset by more upfront communicators.

Curious to see what type of communicator you are? You can take the test here.

How can you adapt your communication style?

With this information under your belt, you can start to adapt the way you communicate with others in your business. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Doing a presentation? Accompany a top-line presentation with a deck of facts and figures that analytical types can dig into. Be sure to have the answers to the questions they’re sure to come up with (or have someone on your side who can help).
  • Sharing a written report or proposal? Use executive summaries and subheadings to pull out the most important details. This will stop intuitive communicators getting impatient.
  • Holding a one-to-one or small team meeting? Start with a more personal catch-up to see how everyone is feeling and allow personal communicators connect and relax into the session.
  • Discussing a big project? Consider using a functional communicator to take minutes or capture thoughts on a whiteboard for everyone to review. This way you know you won’t miss anything. Functional communicators are great at setting meeting agendas and running group project boards too. Agree a timescale for the meeting to keep them in check.
  • Not sure what communication style someone has? Start your interaction by asking them what information they’d like to know. This will instantly give you a sense of their communication style.

Final thoughts

Understanding more about the 4 communications styles will help you make yourself heard, no matter who you’re talking to. And that’s a vital part of leading others and helping them see your point of view.

Remember that most people will be a blend of communication styles and may flex depending on their mood and the situation. It’s your job as the communicator – and leader - to make sure everyone understands you, no matter who you’re dealing with.

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Posted on 12 October, 2021

By Laura Sands

in Employee Performance

Tag Employee Performance

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