Many things affect our ability to effectively work together as a team – our understanding of the team’s goals, our skills and knowledge as related to those goals, our understanding of team dynamics, and our own individual communication style. Our understanding and appreciation of each other’s communications styles can greatly impact our willingness to address these issues.

How do we develop this appreciation of each other’s styles and use it as a step in the team building process? One approach is for us to individually identify our preferred style of communicating our thoughts and ideas. The I-Speak Your Language® self-assessment (from Drake Beam Morin, Inc.) can help us with this identification. The assessment is based on Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s theory about how we process information and make decisions. Jung identifies four distinct processing styles. While we use all four styles, many of us have one or two styles with which we are more comfortable. Further, many of us switch styles under pressure.

Below is a high-level summery of the four styles:

   Style                                    Behavioral Function                                   Values

INTUITOR            Conceptual, synthesizing, projecting                      Getting new ideas!

Can be seen as having head in the clouds.

THINKER             Analyzing, systematic, objective, logical                 Getting it right!

Can be seen as all-head and no-heart.

FEELER                Understanding, facilitative, empathetic                  Getting along!

Can be seen as all-heart and no-head.

SENSER                Concrete, detail-oriented, realistic                         Getting it done!

Can be seen as head-strong.

Once we understand the assumptions and motivations of our own style(s), we begin to see how our different styles might complement each other, leading to better decision making. We also have the opportunity to identify potential for conflict. With this information, we can create strategies for working together in ways that optimize decision making and overall team effectiveness by leveraging the strengths of each others’ respective styles.