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Improve Your Communication. Improve Everything.

I've always been a bit of a talker, but as I got older, I learned something that transformed my life. Talking isn't always communicating, and communicating well is a critical component to success. How well you communicate affects every area of your life. It affects your marriage. It affects how well you parent your kids. It affects your career. If you're a leader, it affects how well you lead your team. How well you communicate affects every relationship in your life and every area of your life.

I'm an extrovert, and some people believe extroverts have an easier time communicating. I don't think that's true. I believe every personality type has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to communications. You may be familiar DISC personality profile. The DISC profile is a great system that gives you an easy way to see how different types of people interact with each other. If you've got kids, there are even books out that allow you to profile your kids. I highly recommend it to help you understand and communicate with your kids better.

Let's take a moment and discuss communications "tendencies" through the lens of the DISC profile. Before we get into this, realize that all of us each have a little bit of every personality type. Many times, we will have 1 or 2 personality types that show up as dominant for us. These dominant types are where we most often operate in our daily living. However, depending on the situation, we'll dip into other personality areas if required. If we operate in these areas that are not "natural" for us, it can cause all kinds of side effects like depression, fatigue, and more. Kind of like an introvert being forced to act like an extrovert. It can be done, but if it's done for too long, really negative things can happen. I know because I've lived with a wonderful introvert for 22 years. She works hard to keep up with my "extrovert", and I have seen the side effects it can have on her.

D = Dominance

Characterized by the Lion

Person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence

Lions can tend to be domineering to those around them and as I've experienced often don't consider people's feelings. Lions need to temper the strength of their communications otherwise the people they are trying to communicate with can feel intimidated and not speak their mind effectively "shutting down" healthy communication. This can happen at work, at home, with a spouse, with kids, with friends and family. Often accomplishing a task or goal trumps people's feelings when it comes to communication. A lion will step all over people's emotions in the quest of the goal. Lions need to learn to be softer spoken so others feel safe to speak their minds and hearts.

I = Influence

Characterized by the Otter

Person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships

Otters like the be playful and the life of the party. Often "we" can seem aloof to other people and not caring in our communications. I say "we" because I'm an otter. I like to have fun. Sometimes when things should be serious we're still wanting life to be fun. As such, sometimes otters will avoid serious issues or communications preferring to enjoy life. We're a lot of fun to have around, but sometimes frustrating to the lions and beavers who want to get things done. Many otters have a tendency to talk a lot and over-communicate which can become rambling. We often make people feel like we're not listening to them because we'd rather be talking. We need to learn to listen.

S = Steadiness

Characterized by the Golden Retriever

Person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability

Golden retrievers love harmony. They hate conflict and they are super loyal. I know because I married one. An awesome one. Because they love harmony and despise conflict, golden retrievers often avoid difficult issues and communications. They'd prefer to "sweep things under the rug" that disrupt the harmony at work or at home with the family. However, difficult issues can't be avoided forever and they eventually surface. Golden retrievers need to feel heard and appreciated so that they can better communicate their thoughts and heart's feelings. While the lion is dominant, the golden retriever is submissive with introverted tendencies.

C = Conscientiousness

Characterized by the Beaver

Person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency

Beavers like precision. Of course, they do. They build dams. Beavers are very task and structure-oriented. Everything should follow a neat and orderly process. Anything that breaks or doesn't adhere to the process is bad. Anyone that breaks or doesn't adhere to the process is bad. This of course causes problems with otters and lions. Otters like to play. They like their freedom. Lions like to be in charge and don't want to be constrained by some process or rigidity. Beavers communicate in a detail-oriented fashion and details they have. They have more than you want and more than you want to listen to.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Here's a test.

  1. Try to identify the primary personality that most sounds like you. Got it?

  2. Now try to identify one of the other types that you highly identify with. It's normal to have 1 or 2 as your primary.

  3. Next, think of someone really close to you at home. Try to figure out their personality types.

  4. Lastly, select one person at work that you are very familiar with. Can you profile them?

Why is this important?

Whether you are at home or work, knowing your personality type and the personality types of those around you will help you communicate more effectively. If you're a parent, you will parent better. If you're a leader, you will lead better. Some tips:

For lions: Speak more softly. Be less demanding. Make sure others are speaking up and feel safe around you. You may not understand why people don't feel safe around you. That's just the way it is.

For otters: Talk less. Listen more. Really listen. Make sure people feel like you're listening to them and they are important to you.

For golden retrievers: Speak up. The people around you aren't mind readers. If you want them to understand who you are and what you're thinking, you have to be bolder and more confident.

For beavers: Process is good, and process is bad. Learn to be more flexible. Learn not to be so rigid, and just because people don't conform 100% it doesn't mean they're losers. Pick out the most important details and don't overwhelm people with ALL the details.

Learn the communication styles of the people around you then do the hard work of being a better communicator. You can't control how people communicate and listen to you, but you can control how you communicate with them. Work at it.

For those in business, I believe business communications is one of the often neglected areas of business. While we're busy building or selling something, corporate communications are lacking. Our leaders and teams are lost in the daily grind and lose connection with the priorities and mission of the organization. Efficiencies and performance suffer. Better communication pays dividends at work and for leaders. I love the 7 Statistics on better communications at work having an impact on business.

How Does Communication Affect Your Money?

Have you ever thought about how your ability to communicate well will affect your money? Well, it does. Enormously. Let me explain.

  • Your ability to communicate at home about money will affect how you and if you have one, your spouse spend money. Are you on the same page? If not, you're probably wasting a lot of your money and missing out on some opportunities to build some future wealth.

  • Learning to communicate better with your family and spouse pays dividends. When my communication with my wife was poor. My marriage was on the rocks. I hate to admit, we came dangerously close to losing our marriage. However, one of the first things our counselor had us work on was opening our communication channels. In fact, it was the only thing we worked on for six months. Weekly marriage counseling for six months just to focus on being able to communicate. It was worth the effort. Divorce is the fastest way to lose 50% of your wealth. If needed, it's worth doing the hard work to keep things together.

  • Being a good communicator at work is key. If you have two people with the same skills, the one who communicates better is usually seen as more valuable and gets better raises. I've even seen some cases where someone with weaker professional skills but stronger communication skills have been promoted over someone with stronger professional skills and weaker communication skills. This is especially true in leadership roles.

Does being a good communicator mean you're going to become wealthy? No. Does being a poor communicator mean you're going to be poor. No. Good communication skills allow you to have a better opportunity to build wealth. Whether or not you can do it still depends on you making the right life and financial choices. Choosing to work on and develop your communication skills is just one of those choices.

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