When it comes to communicating, we can get frustrated when others don’t understand what appears straightforward to us. It’s no wonder, though, when we realize there are at least 3 main communication styles that vary greatly. When someone has a different style than us it can seem like they are speaking a different language. Which style are you?

What are communication styles?

Over the past 25 years of coaching, training, and mediating conflict, I have repeatedly seen 3 distinctive communication styles emerge. A communication style is simply the way a person most naturally communicates with others. This is not to say it is an exhaustive list, or to say each person is exclusively one style or the other. Sometimes you will see a blend of styles. But my experience has proven it to be distinctive enough to cause me to believe every person can identify with at least one of these communication styles.

When you can identify others’ styles, you can learn to speak their language.

When you know your own style, you can help others understand what you need.
Each of the styles asks a question, whether consciously or subconsciously, aloud, or silent.

Each style has a primary concern.

Communication Style Examples

1) The Thinker – This style is going to ask, “What do I need to know?” They are going to listen and watch for information. Thinkers like to process information before they respond, and even when responding they may not give a lot of detail unless they are asked. They are not being rude or ignoring you. They are just processing.

2) The Doer – This style is going to ask, “What do I/we need to do?” They are all about taking action and may often act before thinking. (Or at least act while thinking.) They listen intuitively for what action to take and don’t need to know details or plans. Just point them toward the action. They are not ignoring you. They just heard what kicked their style into motion.

3) The Talker – This style is going to be concerned with connecting to the one they are speaking with, so may ask “What do I need to tell them so we can connect well?” Talkers like to engage others by sharing thoughts and telling stories. They can sometimes forget to listen and may over-explain, giving too many details. It’s not that they don’t care what you have to say, they just often assume if you are still listening there is a connection happening.

Are there unhealthy patterns to each communication style? Sure. We will talk about ways to increase the health and effectiveness of our communication in future articles. But just being able to know what the communication styles are is a great first step to understanding why others say and do things that may seem foreign to you.

When we examine the communication style examples and understand our main style, while also paying attention to what we pick up on with other’s styles, we can build bridges over valleys of conflict. After all, poor communication is the #1 cause of conflict.

If you are interested, personally or for your team or organization, in building stronger quality relationships, increasing your influence, or developing more effective communication I would love to have a conversation with you.


Brenda Harkins is a believer in impossible possibilities. In brokenness becoming beautiful. In justice and mercy and honor and power – with love perfecting them all. As a Speaker, Author, Mediator, and Professional Coach, Brenda is highly focused on the power of communication. Her confidence, clarity, and courage to transform challenges into victories were the catalyst for creating Loud Is Not A Language®, a communication model that is actually a challenge to transform you. Become more you. Building strong, resilient, respectful relationships at the same time.