How to Use 3 Style Flexing Options


As a foreign-born professional in high tech, you increasingly report to more than one manager. You often work in different micro-cultures within the same company.

Even with superb technical and soft skills, you experience hurdles in getting your next promotion. What is holding you back?

Let’s look at situations that may be similar to yours.

  • The scientist was puzzled.Unhappy with his reports, his new manager sent them back for revision.His previous manager had no complaints.

  • The accounting genius promoted to Chief Financial Officer was surprised when his presentations were questioned.

  • The engineer, recommending a new method to her colleagues and to management, saw a difference in their perspectives.Colleagues asked about real time savings. Management asked about cumulative efficiencies.

What’s the common denominator here?

The critical need to adapt your style when you communicate with difference audiences. Style Flexing as a Business Tool How you communicate is as important as what you communicate. In the different real-life stories above, these professionals discovered that what worked previously was not working now. With help, they learned how to analyze their situations and adapt their styles to their new audiences. They learned that style flexing is a business tool. Style flexing is the tool that enables you to share your information strategically. You assess how your audience best assimilates information. You deliver it that way. Three Style Options

Here are three style options to help you identify both your own preferred style and the style required in your new situations. Choose from these style options for any form of communication – writing, presenting, as well as interacting with managers and colleagues. The right choice ensures that you share information the way your audience prefers. The three style options are:

  1. Direct versus Indirect

  2. Matter-of-Fact versus Strategic

  3. Formal versus Conversational

#1. Direct versus Indirect

The Direct style is best illustrated by the straightforward, almost blunt, communication found in the American workplace. The Indirect style is preferred by most Asian cultures. When you are style flexing from Indirect to Direct, you choose words for maximum impact. You don’t worry about softening your stance or being diplomatic. You announce: “This fix is urgently needed now” (Direct) versus “Our team has discovered a small problem, and we recommend that we resolve it in this way.” (Indirect) The scientist whose reports were rejected learned his new manager preferred findings and recommendations to be precise and concise at the onset. Any qualifications and additional explanations he wanted placed lower down in the report. This was different from his previous manager’s preference. The scientist adjusted his style to succeed in his new situation. #2. Matter-of-Fact versus Strategic The accounting genius promoted to CFO discovered that the executives and directors he now presented to want global, predictive interpretations of significant data. He was used to giving numbers and allowing them to speak for themselves. The new CFO had to adapt from being Matter-of-Fact to being Strategic. He now focuses on selected trends with significant impact on the company’s global operations and how these trends require certain strategic decisions. He learned that executive audiences expect direction, not data. Similarly, the engineer with the recommendation was able to style flex with her two different audiences. She was Matter-of-Fact with her colleagues. She was Strategic with management. Notice the questions asked at meetings. Can you identify a possible mismatch between the speaker and the questioner? What style would you use to satisfy the questioner? #3. Formal versus Conversational Businesses generally communicate in a more Formal style than the young professionals hired straight from school. Formal style calls for neutral language, complete sentences, and a focus on ideas. Conversational style tends to be almost like texting: casual words, sentence fragments, and focus on opinions. Many companies find they have to provide their young employees with business communication training to get them up to speed in the workplace. Companies expect professionalism, even if their culture is informal. To accelerate your career, emulate the level of formality preferred by your company. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, communicate in a more Formal style than most businesses. This is due to their relationships with regulatory agencies and scientific communities. Style Flexing Can Accelerate Your Career Whenever you encounter a problematic situation where you think you have done your best to communicate clearly, check out style differences between you and your audience. It may be that how you packaged your information was not a right fit for your audience. Again, how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Consider and use style flexing as a key tool in your career accelerating toolbox.

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