Work Traits

Affective Communication Style

Affective communication style describes the importance you place on nonverbal communication and body language.
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What is affective communication style?

Affective communication style means someone who places high importance on the things people say without actually saying them. That is, their tone of voice, body language and gestures. 

You'll be tuned in to communication styles that involve more outward displays of emotion than others, meaning you'll be comfortable in people-facing roles like coaching, sales, or anything that involves pitching ideas. 

This trait also leans highly towards perception; your ability to understand the subtleties in human communication gives you a higher capacity for intuition. You might even understand some people better than they understand themselves.

We call it: Affective communication

Level of sensitivity and importance you place on tone of voice, gestures and other non-verbal expressions and communication.

When the eyes say one thing, and the tongue another, a practiced man relies on the language of the first.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Leaders known for an affective communication style

Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy is an American social psychologist, author and speaker. She rose to global prominence by giving one of the most popular TED talks of all time, 'Your body language may shape who you are'. 

Cuddy's work explores how our posture communicates more about ourselves than we realize - affecting both our outward appearance, and our inner sense of self. Her ideas of 'power posing' are one of the most popular examples of intentional affective communication - if you stand upright and pose like a superhero for a few moments, you'll feel more confident. 

While her theories have faced scientific scrutiny across the years, her influence is undeniable in helping many rediscover how powerful an affective communication style is.

Derren Brown

Derren Brown is an English mentalist, illusionist,  and author. He's known for his stage and TV shows that combine the showmanship of magic and the science of psychology, suggestion and misdirection. 

He doesn't claim to have magic powers, but instead exposes the manipulative methods of others through entertaining experiments. His stage shows rely on fast-paced reading of peoples' body language cues that betray their inner thoughts. 

His powers are also used for good, though. Brown often helps people overcome negative self-image and low confidence through helping them understand where their emotions come from.

Derren Brown
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Katie Couric

Katie Couric is an American journalist, news presenter, producer and author. Having been a host on the ABC, NBC and CBS channels, she's one of the most well-known news anchors in the country.

Any successful journalist or interviewer needs a good handle on affective communication, and Couric has utilized it wisely throughout her accomplished career. After famously grilling a VP candidate during the country's 2008 election run-up, her incisive cross-examination became known worldwide. 

Couric has won numerous accolades for her journalism including Peabody and Emmy awards.

The benefits of an affective communication style

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This trait is often linked to emotional intelligence and ability to push people's buttons - in a good way. You're a charmer.

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You make it easy for others to understand your emotional state by gesturing and emphasising your points with movement.

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You benefit from eagle eyes when it comes to picking up on subtle behaviors and body language.

The blind spots of an affective communication style

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Placing too much trust in your feelings can cause you to be blind to contrary evidence or statements you really should be listening to.

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You might sometimes make incorrect decisions based on hunches if you misread someone else's intentions.

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If you're split between someone's words and what you perceive to be their true intentions, it might lead to hesitation in your plans.

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How to be a more affective communicator

1) Use your body.

This can include anything from head nodding, eye contact, smiling,  or moving your arms around as you speak. 

You don't have to gesture like an Italian chef to get your point across, but opening up your body language with a little more energy can really help sell your ideas more even if your words remain the same. 

Mirroring is an easy tactic to make people feel more connected to you. Body language like open/crossed arms, leg position, and whether they're leaning in towards you or not are all signals which you can reciprocate for effect - just try to be subtle about it.

2) Watch the eyes.

As the saying goes, they're the window to the soul. They also happen to be your window to the thoughts of those talking to you. 

It might not be too familiar to you, but if you try to make a little more eye contact during conversations, you might gain more of an intuitive ability to read people. If the eyes suggest something different to what they're saying, it's your opportunity to gently press for further insight. 

Just try not to overdo it, as it can come across as aggressive or make people uncomfortable if you never look away. Keep things natural.

3) Study nonverbal communication.

It's a mix of art and science sometimes, but there have been many studies done on human nonverbal behavior. Most people share common 'tells';  subtle signals that they're open, enthusiastic, fearful, lying, or even flirting. These aren't as hard to spot as you might think. 

If you read up on body language and behavior from qualified experts you're likely to become more aware of what's happening in front of you when in conversation. This knowledge can be a super useful addition to your life skills. 

4) Loosen up your language.

This doesn't mean curse like a sailor or greet everyone with 'hey!' - it's more that you can try removing some familiar phrases.

If you're prone to questioning through words, by asking things like "what do you mean by that?" "can you explain these plans to me?" or "can you just give it to me straight?" - now's your chance to practise those affective communication skills. 

By trusting more in your abilities to read people in the moment, you'll find you can increase connection with your conversation partners quicker and more naturally than if you were to analyze and respond to their statements.

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