Even though, there are so many fundamental truths that connect us as humankind, we are still not the same. We have all had different experiences, different influences and we have all grown up to be different individuals seeing the world in a unique way. That is the reason why we are at times caught off guard when our loved one reacts negatively to our well-intentioned idea, or when a client or a team member misunderstands the whole point that you were trying to convey. This situation is likely to repeat itself over and over again in your life, if you are not able to adjust your communication style to the expected approach depending on the person that you are talking to.
There are great many things that affect each and every one of us, such as:
- Our age and the different life curve phases that we go through;
- Our generation and the reality in which we’ve grown up in;
- Our social and cultural environment;
- Our education level and the way we process information;
- Our behavioral style and our experience in communicating with different personality types.
How to make sense of the people you are communicating with? How to understand what they expect from you and how to better understand yourself, as well as others? This is what we discussed in our last week’s Powerful Marketer Talks live webinar “How to effectively communicate in business and in life?”. Watch the full recording at the end of the post!
Here is an overview of the key discussion points:
There are things we cannot change about our past, but there are things that we can choose to work on. That is why in the Powerful Marketer Program we work with communication literacy. It is a set of skills and knowledge that:
- allows an individual to be able to communicate on any level necessary,
- helps to relate to different people despite their religion, age or other background, and
- helps make informed and effective decisions using all the communicative resources.
To start the journey of improving your communication literacy, you need to first understand what are the main influences we all have in our life, and how these impact the way we behave.
Life curve and its different phases
We are constantly changing and developing as we age, and that reflects in our behavior. The life curve theory explains the movement of a person through various ages from birth to death, taking into account the physiological and psychological changes we all go through, and suggests appropriate support mechanisms for each phase.
In the life cycle of every person, there are 3 different phases:
- Development from age 1-21
- Relative balance from age 21-40
- Decay from age 40
PS! In the world of psychology, “decay phase” means that if before that we were continuously given something by the nature, then now nature slowly begins to take from us.
The life curve is a curve for a simple reason – there are many parallels that can be drawn between the different subphases of the development and decay phases. For example, the best support mechanisms for 1-7-year-olds and 60-70-year-olds are repetition and tolerance, as both of those age gaps have huge pressure on their nervous system. Another example is 7-14-year-olds and 50-60-year-olds who both yearn to belong, and struggle with balancing their work and rest time.
People at the top of the life curve, aged 21-40, can enjoy relative balance in their life. There are no major changes happening in our physiology and psychology during that phase. However, it is a time of reflection – if a person is not happy with where they are at this phase, they may make major changes in their life, like a change of career or a change of partner. It is important for people at that age to restore the balance in their life.
Apart from someone’s stage in life, there is another factor at play; their generation. Depending on when you were born in history, you are conditioned more or less accordingly. People from different generations react differently to the same reality. Currently, there are 5 different generations working in the labor market: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y (millennials), and Generation Z. The children under age 10 are called the Generation Alpha, and they will be followed by Generation Beta.
Generational traits affect people’s expectations and describe their overall values, as well as preferred methods and style of communication. Important thing to note here is that belonging to a certain age group can vary in the case of one generation +/- 5 years, because ages on borders might be heavily influenced by either one or another. Another key thing to remember is that naming an entire generation after one sole trait – like “snowflakes” or “digital children” – is misleading.
Starting from Generation Y, polarization started to take place. This means, that one generation is dividing into two contrasting groups or sets of opinions or beliefs. While one generation may have certain extreme idiosyncrasies, which may earn them certain names like “snowflakes” or “digital children”, there’s always going to be exceptions to those idiosyncrasies. Even so-called “digital children” divide into very independent AND very dependent. Some are perfectly able to manage and think for themselves, others require a lot of management and instruction. And, of course, extremes are always rare.
All human beings need similar things. What makes each person unique is what they believe they need to acquire to meet those needs, and just how important those needs are to them specifically.
According to Tony Robbins, these are the 6 fundamental psychological elements that we all need:
- Certainty. This refers to comfort and safety.
- Uncertainty. The need for variation and surprise, as opposed to monotony and routine.
- Significance. Feeling recognized, acknowledged and important.
- Love. The need to connect with others and receive affection.
- Growth. Making progress and feel that we’re moving forward and that we’re alive.
- Sharing. Feeling that you’re contributing to something bigger than yourself for the right reasons.
This is the basis of different personality types. The DISC model, proposed by the psychologist William Moulton Marston, shows the four basic personality types. The word ‘DISC’ is an acronym of the words Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.
Important thing to note here is that there is no right or wrong personality type. Moreover, it’s extremely rare that one person fits 100% with any of these four basic types, or that someone mainly displays one of these basic personality traits. We are complex combinations of most of them, if not even all of them. We could be showing one particular trait at work, and then behave the exact opposite at home.
The 4 types are:
- Oriented to dominance and results (~11% of the population). They are drawn to power and control, and are money-motivated. They are always dressed for success, speak loud and forcefully. And they make about 11% of the population. They are confident risk-takers, great negotiators, quick decision makers and hard-working. They cannot tolerate chit-chat or excuses or long personal stories, they want to know what’s in it for them. That can lead them to being impatient and even short-tempered.
- Oriented to influence and inspiration (~17% of the population). They are the cheerful, positive, inspirational people in your life. They are very expressive, speak loud and fast, share about their personal lives and always dress to impress. They are big dreamers, creative and can see the big picture without getting stuck in details. Their attention span is rather short, they dislike details and long boring meetings. They need things to be fun.
- Oriented to steadiness and relationships (~35% of the population). They are down-to-earth, caring and nurturing to others. They are the peacemakers among us. They usually dress for comfort. They are true team players and loyal friends. Very dependable and the best listeners. Their focus is on relationships, not on money or on what’s in it for them. They dislike aggressive, pushy people, and confrontation in general.
- Oriented to conscientiousness or process (~37% of the population). They are analytical, conservative, reliable, trustworthy, loyal, tenacious. They need all the details about everything and they are very intelligent, like walking encyclopedias. They dress conservatively and formally. They are naturally closed and reserved. They are excellent organizers and take responsibilities seriously.
So, as marketers as well as on a personal level, we need to adapt our communication and marketing to different perceptions depending on the stage on our recipient’s life curve, and their generation and personality type. That way we can increase the odds of a favorable outcome of any interaction, and adjust our messages and channels in marketing depending on the target audience.
For a more detailed overview of this important subject, watch the full webinar recording below!
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