Four Fundamental Communication Styles: Definition & Examples

Four Fundamental Communication Styles: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:03 Communication Styles
  • 1:11 Functional Communicators
  • 2:35 Analytical Communicators
  • 3:50 Personal Communicators
  • 4:41 Intuitive Communicators
  • 5:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Communication comes in many different types and styles. In this lesson, we'll look over the four fundamental styles that have been identified and take a look at an example of each style in action.

Communication Styles

Have you ever noticed how some people are able to better communicate with others than you are? That doesn't mean that their style is better than yours or right where yours is wrong. All it means is that effectively communicating with individuals takes many forms.

For example, you might approach talking to one of your salespeople in a number of different ways. To one salesperson you might say, ''Our sales are down 10 percent from this quarter's projections,'' while to another salesperson you say, ''I feel like our sales are lagging from where we should be.''

What's the difference? You're basically saying the same thing (that your sales aren't what they need to be), but from two varying approaches: one focusing on concrete data, another with a softer, more emotional appeal. Both are accurate, but approach the topic from a different point of view.

And, that's what this lesson is all about: the four fundamental communication styles that have been identified as those we most frequently use. The benefit of understanding the differences in these approaches is knowing how to flex your communication style in a way that is more adaptable to your audience and that helps you get what you want.

See if you can identify yourself in one of these communication ''personalities.''

Functional Communicators

Our functional communicator, Functional Fred, is Mr. Straight to the Point. Fred focuses on the steps, plans, and timelines, but he isn't much for idle chit-chat or small talk. The functional communicator is a planner; he or she outlines a step-by-step process and follows each step carefully to avoid missing any details.

Functional Fred is a fan of a systematic approach to details, and he loves things to be in order and supported by data and facts. This person may seem like a bore because they've thought out every possible scenario and created a process for handling any emergency or deviation.

Functional Fred never misses a single detail. That can be both good and bad. It's good because the hyper-focus on every angle means that each step is well-conceived and thought out but bad because it may cause other members of a work team or an audience to ''zone out'' because they're bored with the minutiae of every little detail.


A functional communicator is the type of person you'd want planning your vacation. They would map out the directions, coordinate the flight details, and line up the best restaurants and attractions to see while you're out of town. A functional communicator might be heard saying something like, ''What's the next step on our to-do list?'' In a business setting, a functional communicator may say something like this, when you question them about part of a project: ''We can't do that until we complete these first two parts.''

Analytical Communicators

Analytical Anna is even more interested in the detailed data or numbers and where they came from than Functional Fred; in fact, Anna is all about the facts, and nothing but facts. The analytical communicator may appear to lack emotion, but really, she or he is driven by the logic and bottom line of it all.

The Analytic Anna type in the workplace wants you to be detailed, rather than vague, something like an accountant might be. For example, an accountant would have a business' books balanced down to the penny. There's no room for the idea that a ballpark range in the checkbook is good enough for them. That means when they communicate with you, they want answers like $4,718.23 or 7.2 percent, not approximately $4,700 or roughly 7 percent. The drawback of this type of communicator is that they may come across as hard-nosed, difficult, unfeeling, or impersonal.


For example, a chat with an analytical communicator might sound like this:

Anna: ''You exceeded your allotted time off this month by 2.75 hours. When can you make that up?''

You: ''I can work over on Thursday evening.''

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