Are you a small or big bucket communicator?
Over the years, I’ve coached several women who struggled with their communication styles.
During a recent coaching session, “Maria” said, “I don’t understand it, my team respects other speakers, but I feel unheard and dismissed when it’s my turn to present. People tend to check their watches, doodle, and play with their phones, making me uncomfortable.”
So, I asked Maria to tell me about her audience. She described her audience as number crunchers, analysts, and technical/ engineering types.
On the other hand, Maria is more creative and likes to deliver information through stories, while her audience wants numbers, statistics, and facts in the shortest time possible.
There is no right or wrong communication style. The key is understanding how to adjust your communication style based on your audience.
While there are four primary communication styles, I have broken them down into two:
- Small Bucket (just the facts)
- Big Bucket (storytellers)
I call the “just the facts” audience small bucket communicators and the “storytellers” big bucket communicators.
“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”
So, let’s talk about common traits and tips for communicating with a small versus a big bucket communicator.
Small Bucket: Meet Lauren
Lauren likes facts, logic, numbers, and data. She isn’t inclined to make decisions without the numbers to back them up. Control over chaos and solid instructions are essential to Lauren.
Lauren looks at things from a place of objectivity and logic. She appreciates direct people who get to the point versus long, drawn-out conversations with ambiguous and cryptic language.
While Lauren is perceived as reliable and capable of making fair, fact-based choices, she can also be viewed as cold, distant, and detached by people with other communication styles.
When speaking with Lauren:
- Be specific and direct—avoid small talk.
- Focus on proof of concept.
- Lead with numbers and data.
- Provide leave-behinds with detailed data.
- Keep your focus on data versus feelings.
Small Bucket: Meet Leticia
Leticia cuts to the chase. She is interested in the big idea and long-term vision rather than the small details. She thrives on the creative side of her work and loves to push boundaries and think outside the box.
Her approach is creative and insightful. Being open to innovation and alternative options is one of Leticia’s strengths. She ensures everything goes according to plan and gets projects completed on schedule.
Leticia can also lack patience and become bored and overwhelmed with too much detail.
When speaking with Leticia:
- Provide a high-level overview of the issue.
- Define her role/responsibility in the context of the bigger picture.
- Be concise, keeping details to a minimum.
- Focus on what Leticia needs to do and why.
- Encourage innovation and ideas.
Big Bucket: Meet Inez
Inez is motivated by process, detail, timelines, and planning. Nothing gets by Inez. She’s highly organized with a systematic plan with step-by-step instructions and expects regular feedback to keep her on track.
Inez rarely makes mistakes because she gets all the facts ahead of time. Her colleagues are incredibly confident in her abilities and admire her focus.
Inez can also be long-winded, providing way more detail than necessary, causing audiences to tune out.
When speaking with Inez:
- Lead with the big picture/end goal.
- Lead with specific questions to guide her.
- Prepare for verbal communication with written materials that Inez can review at her own pace before the meeting.
- Encourage questions and offer thoughtful answers.
- Provide regular feedback.
Big Bucket: Meet Adeline
Relationships and emotions heavily influence Adeline. She cares more about how someone feels than how they think. She is more interested in the “why” versus the “how.”
Because Adeline is a good listener, she is viewed as a genuine, safe, trustworthy presence, making her easy to confide in, especially when someone needs an empathetic ear.
Adeline doesn’t like conflict and tension; it hinders her ability to provide a perspective. However, she can be perceived as sensitive and emotional, which can cause challenges when dealing with small-bucket communicators.
When speaking with Adeline:
- Establish a connection before diving into the issue.
- Have a warm, friendly approach – especially in written communications where tone can easily be misinterpreted.
- Lead with a narrative versus purely logical, data-driven presentations.
- Share your thought process to provide context around your decision.
- Be supportive of Adeline’s personal development.
Not sure what your communication style is?
Need help tailoring your communications to your audience?
Book your FREE 30-minute Business360 Method Strategy Session with Tammy!