A few days ago I saw the most bizarre video. Two computer monitors were set up side by side, with a man oddly resembling Mr. Rogers appearing on the left monitor, while a Ms. Cleo look alike appeared on the right.
What followed was something I had never seen any thing like before.
The two digital humans are called Cleverbots. They are sophisticated programs designed solely for the purpose of fooling us into thinking they are human.
The way programmers make these Cleverbots human-like is by giving them the ability to carry on conversations with us. You can ask them questions, call them names, or compliment their outfit, and they will respond accordingly.
But what happens if you make two of these Cleverbots talk to each other? If you watched the video you quickly noticed some awkward, hillarious, and bitter moments between the two.
Strangely enough, the fact that these Cleverbots struggled communicating may be the most “human” aspect about the program. I’ve had my share of awkward and ineffective conversations before, so I could understand effective communication isn’t easy, even for robots.
So what can we take away from Ms. Cleo and Mr. Rogers awkward first date?
1. People Aren’t Robots (We Have Communication Tendencies)
What I mean by that is every person is different, while robots for the most part are built to be standardized; same parts, same assembly, same programming. Still, some people communicate the same way with everyone we meet.
Here’s a good example. We all know “that guy” who goes up to you, gives you a hug after meeting you for two minutes and then talks your ear off the rest of the night. We might feel comfortable or enjoy a bubbly personality like his, but then he goes up to Suzie later that night and does the same thing with her.
Suzie is freaking out. She is not used to people being in her space. All she can think about while he’s chatting her ear off is how to get away.
The same thing happened with our robot friends. Rogers and Cleo stumbled right out of the gate repeating greetings and getting frustrated with each others’ lack of listening skills. I think Cleo prefers getting straight to the point while Mr. Rogers wanted to get to know more about her first.
2. Effective Communication Involves Adapting Your Communication Style
Do you ever notice how you prefer to work? Do you enjoy change or stability, working as a team or being a leader?
Just as your work behavior differs, so do communication styles. In order to be an effective communicator it helps to be aware of others’ communication styles.
So how do you know how someone prefers to communicate?
DISC and Communication Styles
DISC is a science we often use with our clients to help them understand more about themselves as well as those they interact with on a daily basis. I’ve written a crash course on DISC if you want to learn more about what DISC is.
To better understand how DISC works and relates to communication I have made a rudimentary diagram using paint. Please go easy on me.
In its simplest form we fall between being extroverted or introverted, task oriented or people oriented. So for example, if you are an introverted task oriented person you would probably be a C according to DISC theory.
It just so happens that each of these styles have communication preferences to go along with them. So if you are about to go in a meeting with your boss who is focused on tasks and is very active, you may want to look at the tips for communicating with a D.
Below are a few examples of how these styles tend to prefer to be communicated with.
Communicating With the High D
- Be clear and to the point
- Present facts logically
- If you disagree, take issue with the facts
- Provide a win/win opportunity
Communicating With the High I
- Allow time for relating or socializing
- Ask for their opinion
- Be stimulating, fun, fast, moving
- Talk about goals
Communicating With the High S
- Break the ice. Start with personal comments
- Be non-threatening and patient with them
- Provide guarantees and assurances
- Give them time to think
Communicating With the High C
- Prepare your case in advance
- Be straightforward and direct
- Allow them their space
- Give them specifics
So How Do You Prefer to Be Communicated With? What Style Are You?
I’m meeting many new people here on the blog and would love to know how to be a better communicator with each of you. What style do you see yourself as? Do the corresponding tips feel accurate?
image courtesy of jthomasshaw