The most common frustration (communication styles)

Sometimes we've got to pause and examine whether the frustration we have communicating with others are actually down to our communication style!

Handing my husband some tea on his break from putting up shelves in the garage, I ask: "Do we have enough shelves for all our stuff?". His answer is somewhat surprising: "Do you want me to get more shelves?"

Some people reading this will know exactly where he's coming from. These people, and you might be one of them too,  are used to 'search' for an action in every statement or question asked.

If you make me a cup of coffee and I say - 'ah, this coffee is great', you immediately think - "does this mean all the other cups of coffee I made you were not as good?"


If I walk into you office saying how hot it is, you will immediately get up and open the window (or switch on the AC).

This is called 'inferential listening' - when you hear something and infer what is meant by it.

The frustration comes when a) you never know if you are indeed inferring (whether the thing said was a comment or a request) and b) if the person you're talking with is unaware of your inferential listening style they might find it very surprising you keep wanting to do things when all they did was make a comment.

People that are NOT inferential listeners are, in fact, 'direct' listeners. They will need a very direct 'order' to understand they are required to take an action.

For these people, if I came into their office and said it was hot, they will let the comment pass, and will only open they window if I said - "it's so hot, can you please open the window".

There are numerous types of communication styles, but here I only want to touch on the Inferential vs direct listening, and the frustration that can become when you get (for example) an inferential speaker with a direct listener or vice versa.

I am a direct speaker, so if I thought we needed more shelves for the garage I would have said "let's get more shelves for the garage - I don't think the ones we have are sufficient".

But as my husband is an inferential listener, I need to be aware that he is looking for the 'call to action' in every sentence I say. It's all about being aware, and because I know his communication style I can tell him 9following the example at the start of this article) - "I don't think we need more shelves, I was just asking for your opinion"... and thus no new shelves are being acquired or required... 

I hope this article resonated with you and if this match the challenges you're going through in your life then why not book a complimentary chat with me here: