Leanna Stockard, MA, LMFT

Whether I am working with couples, families, or individuals, one topic never fails to come up in therapy. Communication. Communicating is something that we are constantly doing, either verbally or nonverbally. Communication may be challenging with others when you are not communicating clearly and effectively. It would be important to note that what is clear and effective to you, may not be the same to someone else. For instance, you may need to speak very clearly and with facts in order to effectively communicate with your partner, while talking with your mom seems so free flowing and easy.

I recently read an article on Fast Company’s website by Jory McKay that references Mark Murphy’s defined communication styles. McKay shared, “Murphy’s approach focuses on the key information each style is looking for in a conversation and how you can best communicate with them.” McKay elaborates on these different communication styles, and while there is not a necessarily a concept of right and wrong regarding yours and other’s communication styles, there is a “do and do not” way of interacting with the different styles.

Communication Styles


People with analytical communication styles prefer logic and facts when communicating. According to McKay, analytical communicators do not enjoy emotional conversations and conversations that include vague language. McKay reported that when communicating with an analytical communicator, one should be specific and set expectations, and should not turn conversations into emotional ones, and should not give feedback that may be perceived as critical.


Intuitive communicators are opposite from analytical communicators. According to McKay, intuitive communicators are less interested in the details of the conversation, and more interested in the important “point” of the conversation. When communicating with intuitive communicators, McKay suggests leaving out the details, sticking to the point of the conversation, and answering any follow-up questions the intuitive communicator may have. McKay also recommends, “avoiding taking their approach personally” as this is just their communication style and it is not meant to be rude or crass.


People who are functional communicators enjoy the process of communicating, and speak in specific details in order to make sure that nothing gets missed. When communicating with a functional communicator, McKay suggests using active listening and follow-up questions. Active listening is repeating back what you are hearing and understanding from the person that is communicating to you. McKay also suggests not assuming that the person is immediately understanding what you are saying, and maintaining patience with the functional communicator and not trying to rush them to the end of the conversation.


Personal communicators generally communicate to get to know the other person and to build a relationship with them, as they value connections. Personal communicators generally use emotional language and talk less about the issues that may be presented. When speaking with personal communicators, McKay recommends keeping the conversation casual and speaking with emotion. McKay does not recommend asking for details and facts or being pessimistic in the conversation.

While in the article McKay discusses these four communication styles in the context of work relationships, understanding these communication styles can be helpful in all of the relationships in your life. The easiest way to communicate with others is by being aware of and understanding your own communication style. This will allow you to be aware of what you need, and which styles might be the most challenging for you to communicate with.

Attempting to speak another person’s communication style may be challenging. If you struggle to communicate with others in your life, it may be helpful to connect with a therapist! Contact Symmetry Counseling today to get in touch with one of our clinicians.