Have you known people who seem to take forever to get to the point of their conversation? Do you think people have noticed that about you? Don’t panic, you’re ok. We all have general tendencies regarding how we think and communicate. These tendencies are neither good nor bad They are not carved in stone. Understanding these tendencies makes it easier to interact with those having tendencies different than our own. Lets take a look.
People tend to fall into two general categories regarding how they communicate. We are either inductive communicators or deductive communicators. An inductive communicator isn’t that way in all circumstances but in general he or she will tend to be inductive. The same is true for deductive communicators. “Mastering Communication At Work” by Ethan F. Becker and Jon Wortmann does a great job explaining these communication tendencies.
- Inductive communicators prefer to hear the details or the supporting information prior to hearing the point of the communication. That order also makes sense to them when they are providing information, the details first followed by the point.
- Deductive communicators are the opposite preferring to hear the point followed by the details. They also provide information in that order, the point followed by the supporting information.
When people with different communication tendencies interact communication can be impeded. Consider the following scenario:
You’re sitting in your office when “Bob”, a team member, appears in your doorway. You look up and think “oh crap it’s Bob, I’m going to have to listen to ten minutes of stuff before he gets to the point”. You don’t say anything but Bob senses something is wrong. Bob is thinking, “every time I come in here the boss seems irritated or annoyed. Bob is eventually going to avoid interacting with you unless he absolutely has to. This will likely make you, Bob, and the team less effective.
Inductive and deductive tendencies apply to groups as well. Groups of senior managers for instance tend to be deductive. Say you are inductive by nature and you have to go before the steering committee to argue for the continued funding of your project. To you it would make sense to lay out the supporting information first and then make your point. The committee probably wants to hear the point first and if they want details they’ll ask. Your approach alone may make you unsuccessful.
By recognizing and understanding these tendencies you can adjust your behavior as appropriate. My wife, for instance, is a severely inductive communicator. When I ask her a question I’ll hear ten minutes of stuff before I get the answer, which may or may not be to the question I asked. Drove me crazy for about thirty years. Now that I know about these tendencies I’ll mention it to her and we’ll both laugh about it. Her communication tendency hasn’t changed but at least it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Take the time to learn about inductive and deductive communication and apply that knowledge at work and in your personal life. Finally consider the following:
- Are you an inductive or a deductive communicator?
- How can you apply this to be more effective at work and in your personal life?
©2016 Joseph T Drammissi