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The Four Communication Styles

Updated on February 3, 2015


In the book Straight Talk: Turning Communication Upside Down for Strategic Results, Eric Douglas describes four distinct communication styles: the director, expresser, thinker and harmonizer. Each of these styles operates from a different set of assumptions. This hub provides a quick snapshot.

Interview with Eric Douglas

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Director: Directors are hard-charging, action-oriented leaders, focused on results. The director’s style of communicating is assertive and task-oriented. Directors operate on the assumption that quick action and decisiveness are valued, and that people are rewarded for getting things done, the sooner the better. Directors frame the world as a competitive place of action and decisiveness.

Expressor: Expressors focus on leading through their creative ideas. The style of communicating used by expressors is assertive and extremely people oriented. The main assumption here is that every person is entitled to voice their opinions, and think outside the box. They love to entertain. Expressors focus on the world as an intricate place where people are acknowledged for their lifetime achievements and creativity.

Thinker: Thinkers tend to be very detail oriented and focused on getting the job done right. the thinker’s communication style is less assertive than the Director and Expresser. Like Directors, Thinkers are also task oriented; they assume that there’s a best way to do things – and it’s their job to make sure no mistakes are made. They often feel rewarded when a goal is achieved. They frame the world as a place in which to solve problems and get things done.

Harmonizor: Harmonizors lead by supporting others. Their style of communication is also far less assertive than that of the Director or Expressor. Similar to Expressors, Harmonizors are also very people oriented. Their actions are directly related to the fact that they are required to supervise and pay close attention to the needs of their team. There is a feeling of accomplishment when the team does well. They often see the world as a place where personal relationships are an extremely important part of their lives and they prefer to collaborate in the workforce.

People are not simply one of these styles, but an amalgam of all four. In order to understand your communication styles, you need to understand the extent of the styles you exhibit.

Discover your communication style at

Additional Reading

The latest book by Eric Douglas is The Leadership Equation - 10 practices that build trust, spark innovation, and create a high-performing organization.


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    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 

      6 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      Good stuff, knowing the style of the person across the desk is so important to successful communications and adapting my style to the situation...that is for most people a large challenge.. thanks


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