With more uncertainty in every aspect of our lives, communication plays an increasingly important role. With remote working and perhaps some team members furloughed, managers are facing new challenges, and it can be harder to check on team morale. If you’re feeling a bit distant from your team, maybe a refresh in communication patterns can help you to maximise engagement with your team.

Hartley and Bruckmann (2008) outline three different communication styles used by managers:

The Arrow

Communication operates one way, as in firing an arrow.  Managers typically spend some time working out their ideas and making sure that their messages are clear and concise.

However, it can be problematic to see receivers as passive processors of information. Constructing messages with absolutely no ambiguity is challenging, often leaving room for misinterpretation. An arrow style of communication requires no feedback from the receiver so the manager would be unaware of any problems.

The Circuit

Communication is a two-way process, with messages travelling back and forth between the sender and the receiver, emphasising the importance of feedback.

Managers usually stress the importance of good listening and trust in relationships. However, they can overemphasise agreement and fail to see real differences in views. There may be an assumption that disagreement is simply a matter of poor communication and that more communication will almost automatically lead to agreement, which is not necessarily true.

The Dance

Dance is the most appropriate metaphor to describe communication, as there are several similarities between the two. They are both used for various purposes and involve creativity and the co-ordination of meanings. Both also follow sets of rules and patterns. In this style of communication, two or more parties are committed to collaboration.

Internal marketing plays a significant part in managerial communications, especially when you need your team to ramp up business activities to meet increased demands. Understanding various communication styles can help you to adopt the approach you need to get your staff on-board, helping to move the business forward.

To find out more about communicating more effectively, read Understanding the Communication Process.

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