The days of “treat someone the way you’d like to be treated” are gone. The new era of communication and showing respect for others is to learn how to match and pace. It’s about how to consider and assess the way another person communicates. Then discuss items on their level.

The best strategy for communicating in a way that the other person “gets it” is a combination of matching communication styles and the method of communication. It’s focused on communicating with someone the way they would like to communicate, matching your style to theirs.

Here are some ways to match and pace:

Bore the right person with data.

If you know that someone is very detailed oriented, give them the data even if you are really more of a big picture person. Then you can use the data to explain your larger opinion. I’ve often done this myself in meetings to show when a new program is working or support an idea that feels new, but we have the data to back it up.

On the other hand, if you are communicating with a big picture person, don’t spend time explaining every detail. Summarize and get to the point.

Proceed with caution.

If someone is quiet and thoughtful, don’t blast them with your opinion. Instead throw out a question and give them time to think before responding.  Don’t assume that everyone is an extrovert and wants to speak up right away. Give them time to process.  A great example of this is giving someone an agenda explaining the input you’d like from them ahead of a meeting, rather than expecting immediate insight and input.

Text when necessary, only when necessary.

Ideally, you shouldn’t text arguments or anything’s that requires a full conversation. But some people prefer. Pay close attention to how someone communicates with you. If the situation is complicated, think through your response before texting. For work, you can request an appointment or wait until you see them to ask when they might be available. Pay close attention to what they say and if things seem to be getting confused by text or email, wait and finish up by phone or in person.

Learning a person and their communication style, at work or home, is complicated and time consuming. Don’t jump to conclusions. Combine match and pace with the method learned in last week’s article on listening.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in improving interpersonal communication skills, building and leading teams, training supervisors, career coaching, solving human resources issues, and working with different communication styles and generations.

Photo credit: Shootin’ for Fun