3 Business Communication Styles to Know


Has anyone said that to you before? Communication can be tricky. It’s not always easy to know what to say, how to say it, or even if to say anything. We all communicate convey and process information – differently. Understanding how people communicate and being in touch with your dominant communication style is critical in career and work settings.

Business Communication Scenarios

Consider these scenarios: Sally sends an email message to Robert that provides bulleted details and numbered questions. If Robert responds at all, it goes something like this, “tks,” which leaves Sally frustrated.

John sends an email to Doris who always responds with a phone call or by showing up in his office to discuss it. John is left wondering, “Doesn’t she know how to just click ‘reply’!”

Nathan seeks in-person meetings. Every time. He is slow to formulate opinions, wanting first some sense of how others feel about an issue. He can’t read Robert, likes Doris’s approach, and he frustrates Sally.

What Are Communication Styles?

Everyone has a dominant communication style. There are three basic communication styles, all of which are reflected in the examples above: Visual (Sally), Auditory (Doris), and Kinesthetic (Nathan).

  • Visual: People with a visual preference like their communication to be orderly, organized and brief. They like orderly emails that contain “visual” information, like bullets or numbered instructions, and/or contains words and phrases like, “to illustrate,” “focus,” and “It appears that,” work well. Visual communicators also like face-to-face interaction because they like to see the other person’s reaction, but won’t respond well to long verbal instructions.
  • Auditory: Auditory communicators want to talk by phone and hear what’s needed. They’ll listen for, and be responsive to, changes in the tones of voices. They will take remember verbal instructions and take those instructions literally. Words and phrases like, “It sounds like” or “resonate” work well.
  • Kinesthetic: People who have a dominant kinesthetic learning style want to be in touch with feelings. They are the “touchy-feely” type who are quick with a handshake or a hug and will make decisions based on feelings (their own or their teams’ feelings). Use words and phrases like, “My gut feeling is” or “get a hold of this.”

Why Communication Is Important in Business

Understanding that people process information definitely can help with office efficiency and productivity, especially if you realize when you have to change your approach with specific individuals. For example, if your boss is an auditory communicator, sending her a long, detailed email will not impress, may annoy, and could delay or prevent a response. Instead, pick up the phone or send a very short email asking for a face-to-face meeting. She will appreciate it and your objective will be met far more effectively.

Without question, it’s difficult to break form and adopt a communication style that is not as comfortable for you. Doing so, however, will ensure better office dynamics and positive outcomes.


National American University offers multiple business undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs through the College of Undergraduate Studies.

About the author:  Tamie Hopp is the Director of Alumni & Foundation Services for National American University. She can be reached at thopp@national.edu. For more information on alumni relations, visit nauconnect.com. Information about the NAU Foundation can be found at naufoundation.org.


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