Communication styles – OPEN

Add your own custom notes.

You need to login before you can record your own custom course notes.

Registration is easy, and completely free.

Topic 4.2: Communication styles

Likes people like this topic - including you!

SharesThis topic has been shared 25 times!

Progress2,737 people have passed the quiz

From the four temperaments of Hippocrates to the sophisticated modelling of Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers (MBTI), personality typing has long been used to explain how people behave in social settings.

Common to all archetypes is the understanding that, at any given time, someone can express a variety of ‘types’, but people inevitably feel most natural in one.

Presented here is a personality taxonomy that draws on the work commenced in the 1960s by industrial psychologists David W. Merrill and Roger Reid.

The Merrill-Reid model considers personality as a function of an individual’s assertiveness and responsiveness.


Assertiveness refers to the degree to which a person attempts to control situations or the thoughts and actions of others.

A highly assertive person, for example, might be always telling others what to do, whereas an unassertive person (or someone with ‘low’ assertiveness) will prefer asking others first.


Responsiveness refers to the readiness with which a person outwardly displays emotions or feelings and develops relationships.

Whereas a highly responsive person might be considered quite emotive, a person at the opposite end of the spectrum (low responsiveness) is assumed to be very self-controlled.

As you can see in the model below:

A person who is low in both assertiveness and responsiveness is analytical

A person who low in responsiveness but highly assertive is a driver

A person who is low in assertiveness but highly responsive is amiable

A person who is both highly assertive and responsive is expressive


As a project leader, you should be willing to adjust your communication strategy to any situation or context.

In order to get the most out of others, this includes modifying your own behaviour and approach in response to the personality style they are expressing in the moment.

To do this effectively, you will need to:


Listen and watch for personality cues; be open to someone else's style, values and perspective.


Find common ground with someone who is different; this could be your speed of speaking or the terms you use (for example, talking about facts vs. feelings).


Watch for body language and get feedback from others to see if you are being understood; check your own thoughts/feelings. Do you feel harmony or discord?

So how should you communicate with each of the four social archetypes?

What is your ‘default’ social style in the workplace?

Take the quiz below to find out – if you are feeling brave, you can also invite a colleague to take the quiz on your behalf!

There are no right or wrong answers, and you should know that your responses may be influenced by your current mood and/or social setting.

Note too that we do not record your responses or results – this one is just for fun!

Cookies. They're how the internet works.