workbook was designed to provide you with an opportunity to better understand our communication styles.

Learning Goal: I’m working on a business writing question and need support to help me learn.

The icEdge assessment and self-reflection exercise is designed to help you become more aware of and better understand how you communicate with others. In this workbook, you will focus on your individual results (you will have a chance to reflect on your group compassion results in another exercise). Before diving into the workbook, please consider the following:

  1. You will reflect on the four main characteristics of your communication style:
  2. Please plan to spend some quality time responding to the questions in this workbook. The more effort you put into self-reflecting and understanding yourself, the more you will get out of this activity.
  3. As you work through your responses, please remember that our cultural environment largely influences our communication styles. For example, research has shown that direct verbal assertiveness, linear logic, straightforwardness, and transparent messages (e.g., “saying what you mean and meaning what you say”) are characteristic of low-context communication styles common in individualistic cultures. Silence, non-verbal cues and behaviors (e.g., reading between the lines), spiral or fuzzy logic, and self-humbling tone are characteristic of high-context communication styles common in collectivistic cultures.
  • Message – the way you use and interpret subtle (vs. literal) meaning and emotion in communication
  • Sensory – refers to the way you attend to and communicate through the physical, auditory, and vocal space shared with your counterpart.
  • Time management – refers to the way you attend to and manage time, i.e. focusing more on clock time or allowing events to unfold naturally.
  • Relationship – refers to the way you adjust communication to your counterpart’s status and relationship with you.

However, it is important to keep in mind the relative nature of the cultural environment when reflecting on and discussing communication styles. There are considerable variations in commutation styles within cultures as well. One could use direct, low-context communication styles when interactive with one group (e.g., coworkers) or discussing one matter (e.g., contract), and prefer indirect, high-context communication styles when interacting with a different group (e.g., family) or discussing a different matter (e.g., personal relationships). For instance, we cannot assume that a German person will automatically communicate using low-context communication styles, while a person from Japan will automatically use high-context communication styles.

The best strategy is to observe each particular person within each particular communication context and figure out what communication styles they might be using based on the characteristics of low-context communication styles (e.g., direct verbal assertiveness, linear logic, straightforwardness, etc.) and high-context communication styles (e.g., non-verbal cues, self-humbling tone, etc.). Then you can adjust your own communication styles to best encode messages that you’d like your communication counterparts to receive and adjust your interpretations of your counterparts’ messages to better understand the meaning they are trying to transmit to you in their messages.


Message Style

Your message style describes your preferences for

  • Focusing on implicit messages and other’s emotions when receiving or communicating messages (Interpretation)
  • Communicating in indirect ways to avoid hurting someone’s feelings and letting feelings guide your communication and persuasion (Expression).
  • Avoiding confrontation and expressing disagreement (Conflict Management).
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