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Communication Continuum
DonnaStringer,ExecutiveDiversityServices,Inc.
Seattle,Washington,USA
Purposeandlearningobjectives
To identify the range of communication style preferences in a group
To allow participants to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their own and others’
preferred styles in the workplace
To help them see the value of having and using all three styles
To explore the advantages of using a preferred style of communicating, rather than having
to adapt to a workplace cultural norm
Targetaudience
Individuals and groups who need to communicate with people in the workplace who have
and use different styles of communication.
Time
60 minutes
Materialsandenvironment
One copy of Handout 1, “Descriptions of REI Communication Styles,” for each partici-
pant (optional)
Flipcharts and markers for each of three or more groups
Room with enough open space for all participants to move about and take three different
positions on an imaginary triangle
Procedure
1. Present a brief explanation of how societies tend to teach a preferred communication style
based on cultural values. Describe the rational, emotive, and intuitive communication
styles. You can use the description in Handout 1, or construct a new one with examples of
your own.
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2. Stress that our communication styles change, depending on the situation and our goals,
and each one is used at some point in our lives. Create an imaginary triangle on the floor
of the room and place written signs for rational, emotive, and intuitive at each point. Ask
participants to think about how they prefer to communicate (where they tend to begin) and
then to stand somewhere in the triangle. Stress that you want them to indicate their per-
sonal preferences rather than how they communicate at work, because people often adapt
to the organization’s preferred style.
3. Once they are standing where they feel comfortable, ask those who are between two
points to make a choice, temporarily, about which of the two styles they might be most
comfortable with. Get people to stand on the point that corresponds with their preference.
4. Tell them that you understand that they use different styles in different settings, but that
for the next 20 minutes, you want them to decide on the style that they best identify with.
For example:
If some people can’t decide between rational and intuitive, for example, ask them this:
“When making a decision or solving a problem, do you tend to first look for the data
and then reflect on it, or first reflect on what you already know, and then search for the
data?”
If the preference falls somewhere between intuitive and emotive, ask them this: “Do
you first reflect on what you know and then talk with others about it, or do you first talk
to others and then reflect?”
If the preference falls somewhere between emotive and rational, ask them this: “Do
you first look for data and then talk to others about it, or do you first talk to others and
then look for the data?”
5. Divide the “preferences” into groups (rational, emotive, intuitive). Give each group sheets
of flipchart paper and several marking pens.
Note: If one group is too large (such as the rational group), split it into two. No group
should be larger than seven to eight people.
Stress again that individuals tend to
have a preferred style;
prefer a style taught by their culture(s);
adapt as necessary to the organization’s preferred style.
6. Ask the groups to discuss these questions and record the responses on their flipchart
paper:
At work, what is the strength and the weakness of your preferred style?
How do each of the other two styles help you and how do they hinder you in the
workplace?
Tell the groups to select a reporter. Give them 20 minutes to complete this task as a group.

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