Agreeableness and Personality

Do you know your communication style?

Readership: All
Theme: Identity, Image, and Impressions
Author’s Note: Coauthored with Jack.
Length: 1,250 words
Reading Time: 5 minutes + 11:45 minutes of videos

The 4 Styles of Communication

Teaching communication styles can be complex and elaborate if the instructor is knowledgeable, or kept simple if someone like me is teaching on the subject.  The complexity comes from the fact that while everyone has a dominant style, everyone also has secondary style characteristics that will influence the dominant style to some extent.

Another thing that makes it confusing is that different “experts” have preferred adjectives to describe each of the styles, so we see a lot of close synonyms / antonyms for Assertiveness like…

  • Assertive vs. Agreeable
  • Aggressive vs. Compliant
  • Determined vs. Flexible
  • Dominant vs. Passive
  • Fast Paced vs. Slow Paced

And likewise for Expressiveness…

  • Open vs. Closed
  • Warm vs. Cool
  • Extroverted vs. Introverted
  • Feelings vs. Facts
  • People Oriented vs. Task Oriented

And others.

To make matters even more perplexing, the “warm” communication style is also described as agreeable, compliant, open, etc., whereas, “cool” corresponds to aggressive, assertive, determined, and so on. This can obscure the difference between the two dichotomies of Assertiveness and Expressiveness.

Moreover, when viewing information about communication styles, readers may have to take a moment to translate the words being used to the words and concepts they’re more accustomed to using. But anyway, the essential ideas are the same.

The listed dichotomies in bold face are those I’ll use for the remainder of this essay.

For the vast majority of people, it is enough to know the basics.

  • Fast Paced and Warm = Being Liked
  • Fast Paced and Cool = Control
  • Slow Paced and Warm = Safety
  • Slow Paced and Cool = Being Right

If you imagine pace/assertiveness and warmth/expressiveness as continuums that intersect you get a 4 quadrant graph of the 4 available communication styles. These four types also take on various names. Of note, one system of nomenclature uses the terms Passive and Aggressive which are easily confused with psychopathology.

Here’s an infographic that gives more information for each of the types. (This nomenclature is called the DiSC model.) A person as far away from the intersection as possible on a 45° angle from the intersection is going to be an archetype of that style.

Examples

For anyone that is beginning to recognize styles, my advice would be to simplify, simplify, simplify.  This specifically means not getting caught in the details of what a person with a given style might say or do in a situation.  Most people can pick up on warmth and pace in the first few minutes when they meet someone and figure out the person’s style.  Getting caught in the details leads to uncertainty and in many cases a good bit of second guessing.

Fast Paced and Warm = Being Liked

Extroverted men are usually fast paced. Guys who are charismatic and popular tend to communicate this way. Scott therefore fits this personality arrangement.

Fast Paced and Cool = Control

Guys who know what they believe, who know what they want, and are comfortable in their own skin stick to the tack of social efficiency and limiting their personal liabilities. Ed Hurst and Vox Day fit this personality arrangement.

Slow Paced and Warm = Safety

Compromising for the sake of harmony is very common for people who communicate from the frame of Safety. Dalrock writes in this style, and this is my own preferred style too. Jack said this is his secondary communication style. This is also Cameron’s dominant communication style.  He’ll often try to make peace between commenters, and his writing is often more to the warm side of the spectrum.

Slow Paced and Cool = Being Right

Sharkly is as close to an archetype for slow paced and cool as I can think of.  He goes through enormous efforts to be right, down to levels of putting minute details in his comments at times if he thinks it solidifies that he is right.  Jack said this is (or was) his predominant communication style, but as he’s grown older, he’s seen how he can come across as a smart@ss, and so he has learned to be more gracious and patient (i.e. Safety), while maintaining a wide frame.

Agreeableness and Personality

Agreeableness is expressed differently according to personality. Although there are outliers, most introverted people tend to be more agreeable, and extroverted people are more assertive.

It has helped me to think of introversion and extroversion as a continuum of energy required for interaction with people.  A person who is energized by being amidst people is on the extroversion side and a person who is exhausted by being amidst people is on the introverted side.

My own natural tendency is towards introversion, although my work and age have mellowed that tendency.  When I was younger, I’d see a group of people I had not met yet and have to mentally prepare myself to go interact.  My oldest son sees a group of people he doesn’t know yet and thinks of all the new friends he’ll make.  I had to input energy into the scenario and my son derives energy from the same scenario.

Mimic the Communication Styles of Others

Communication “experts” often state that the most efficient way to streamline your communications with others is to adopt the other person’s communication style.  Some people can do this rather easily, but others find it very difficult. They’ll say it makes them feel very uncomfortable and/or “fake”.  Actually, it is impossible to “fake” a communication style as long as it comes from you. When people say they don’t want to be “fake”, what they really mean goes back to how much effort and energy is required to make that shift. Often times, they’ll make this excuse to avoid putting in the effort to develop alternate communication habits.  People who practice using other communication styles will often find greater success in having others understand and accept their ideas simply because they are relaying concepts in a style that feels most natural to the listener.

What I have found fascinating over the years is when people “Z out”.  This occurs when a person is put under pressure to the point they feel stress and they ultimately end up at the exact opposite communication style, and along the way they very briefly utilize the other 2 styles. Watching this happen can be a good way to confirm a person’s dominant style as well as being telling of how uncomfortable they feel in that moment.

Challenge

Here is a fun exercise for you. Watch the following video on recognizing communication styles and then observe people as you speak with them at work, family gatherings, or holiday parties.  It’s definitely a way to have more fun, especially if they are less lively or if you’re at a work function where people are more buttoned up for professional reasons. You can even practice using a person’s own style when talking with them to see how much you can get them to open up.  Don’t take the easy road on this and talk with a person who is fast paced and warm.  They are naturally open books that will often talk your ear off.

Related

This entry was posted in Agency, Communications, Confidence, Conflict Management, Discernment, Wisdom, Fundamental Frame, Game, Holding Frame, Inner Game, Intersexual Dynamics, Introspection, Leadership, Male Power, Masculine Disciplines, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Success, Personal Domain, Personal Presentation, Persuasion, Psychology, Relationships, Self-Concept, Sexual Authority, Sphere of Influence, The Power of God, Trust. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Agreeableness and Personality

  1. cameron232 says:

    Yes sir – you categorized me right. In good company with Dalrock.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jack says:

    “What I have found fascinating over the years is when people “Z out”. This occurs when a person is put under pressure to the point they feel stress and they ultimately end up at the exact opposite communication style, and along the way they very briefly utilize the other 2 styles.”

    Let me describe how I usually see people “Z out”. A necessary condition is that Mr. Z is strongly reluctant to communicate in a non-primary style. There are other people who are more adept at switching styles and whom I’ll collectively call Mr. A, who are aware of how Mr. Z is avoiding the other styles. There is a suspicion that Mr. Z adopts a certain communication style and avoids the others because it helps him mask his character flaws. Therefore, Mr. A intentionally puts Mr. Z under pressure just to watch him Z out. Mr. Z invariably takes offense at this, and sees Mr. A as being difficult, obtuse, quarrelsome, or some other, more derogatory names. We might call Mr. A’s provocations as “pushing [Mr. Z’s] buttons”. So when Mr. Z ultimately ends up at the exact opposite communication style, it comes in a fit of anger and frustration. Watching this happen is very revealing of both persons’ true character and motives. It is also clear that Mr. A exerts this kind of pressure on Mr. Z just out of spite and/or to roll or shame him (e.g. laughing, mocking, taunting, etc.).

    Here’s a few questions for our discussion.

    1) Who would you say is the “bad guy”, Mr. A (who is messing with Mr. Z) or Mr. Z (who is hiding his character flaws)?
    2) Do you think Mr. A is morally correct in pushing Mr. Z’s buttons?
    3) Is Mr. A doing right by Mr. Z by pushing him to open up and develop other communication styles, or is he just being cruel?
    4) Is Mr. Z’s anger morally justified?
    5) Should Mr. Z view Mr. A positively as a goad to growth, or negatively as a pernicious antagonist?
    6) After a period of adjustment, what are the chances of Mr. A and Mr. Z becoming friends? Guesstimate a percentage.
    7) Would Christian men be better off focusing on a primary communication style and trying to improve it to be more easily understood by others, or would it be better to try to adapt to the communication styles of others, as the “experts” suggest?
    8) Should Christian men be acting more like Mr. A?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bardelys the Magnificent says:

      You basically described the plot of “What About Bob?”

      Like

      • Jack says:

        It’s been a looong while since I’ve seen this movie. In this story, Dr. Leo Marvin is Mr. Z, and Bob is Mr. A, a manipulative, obsessively compulsive narcissist. One big difference between my description and this movie is that Bob is just being narcissistic and is not intentionally trying to get a rise out of Dr. Marvin. It is interesting how Bob’s trust in Dr. Marvin’s authority totally transforms his character into a very likeable protagonist, in spite of his mental issues. This shows how important it can be to have respect for authority. As a result of this relational structure, their interaction is quite comical, but in real life scenarios that I’ve seen, it’s not nearly so zany. Mr. A has a much darker persona and there is seldom this level of respect for Mr. Z.

        Like

      • Bardelys the Magnificent says:

        Bob’s “narcissism” is what let’s him off the hook here and makes the movie work, but there are plenty of people who behave like him that do not have quite his level of mental issues. Fun game: get a group of people together and watch the movie, then discuss who was in the right: Bob or Leo. You’ll learn something about people’s motivations, for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Ed Hurst says:

    I suppose my writing style does fit what you suggest. I think you’d find my live presentation more highly variable, since I always try to sense where my audience is and meet them where they are. I often mimic the styles of others and find it quite comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Red Pill Apostle says:

      Ed – People have a natural tendency to move towards the center of the chart as they age, which is they meet people at their own style. Their own dominant style still exists, but in a less pronounced way.

      Like

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  5. Jack says:

    “Fun game: get a group of people together and watch the movie, then discuss who was in the right: Bob or Leo.”

    I expected this post to generate a lively conversation about this same topic, concerning “Mr. Z” and “Mr. A.” But for some reason, it hasn’t happened.

    “You’ll learn something about people’s motivations, for sure.”

    Maybe this is why — readers don’t want to reveal that much insight to their own psychology. Or else, people don’t really know what to think, which tells me that this post is sorely needed. I’ll admit that I never thought about Communication Styles until RPA brought it up in an email.

    Like

    • hamg says:

      Perhaps there’s not much discussion on Mr. Z vs. Mr. A because it’s too abstract to parse out–at least for me it is. It’s hard for me to picture the struggle of changing communication styles or the conflict that entails if I don’t know what communication styles we’re talking about. I don’t think about communication styles much to begin with.

      However, if we’re talking about Mr. Z as a “slow-paced, cool” communicator, then the example hits painfully close to home for me. I’m detail-oriented and analytical, and I’ve always struggled with needing to be right and being afraid of being wrong. Even as a little kid I would go into depth explaining something–like the number of frogs on my t-shirt–and get annoyed if someone interrupted me because it threw off my groove. I can remember my siblings being Mr. A and poking at me to rile me up. Later on, my first girlfriend played Mr. A by doing the same thing. She’d push my buttons to get a rise out of me, and I’d be clueless that she was doing it until a minute later, then I’d be frustrated. I used to argue a lot with people when it wasn’t needed.

      Last year I moved in with a close friend of mine, and he started playing Mr. A intentionally when he saw how bad of a Mr. Z I was. We had conversations about it, he confronted me on my “lack of chill”, and I agreed to let him work with me. It was very humbling, but it helped a lot. First I hated it–he’d try to trigger me by saying something he knew I’d disagree with or think was stupid, I’d bite and start arguing on a logical basis, then a minute later he’d be laughing at me and I’d finally realize what was happening and get annoyed. Wished he’d just stop. But I started improving. Eventually I got good enough at reading the situation and avoiding his bait that he stopped testing me, or maybe I just don’t notice when he does anymore. I was also reading about Frame at the time, so I got to practice it. I still have a lot to work on and often fall to my old weaknesses, but I’m very thankful for his influence and the growth that occurred. It was an answer to my prayers for wisdom in my social life.

      I have a perfectionist streak in me. I need to know how everything should be, and then I need to set it that way. I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to zoom out of what people say and let little things slide even if they bother me and my sense of “rightness”. The thing that makes me good at math, music, and my job, is also a social impediment at times. It’s a two-edged sword. But on the positive side, it’s part of why I became red pilled–I hate cognitive dissonance. That’s another story. Anyway, there’s a bit of insight to my own psychology for ya. Maybe others can relate.

      Liked by 2 people

    • hamg says:

      As far as who’s right, Mr. A or Mr. Z… I think it depends, probably neither. I’ve been in the wrong as Mr. Z and have needed to work on being more flexible and less autistic about stuff. And my ex-gf as Mr. A, I’m gonna be honest, she was an antagonistic… well, you know. And I realize I’m answering this question in terms of my own experience, not so much the abstract case you provided. It is the easiest way for me to approach it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jack says:

        In an average case scenario, I believe Mr. A is the more mature and responsible party, and that Mr Z needs to expand his communication skills. However, the character in which Mr. A handles the interaction is a determining factor of whether he is morally right or not. If he’s an @ss about it, it may not benefit Mr. Z at all and perhaps even make him resistant to learn.

        Like

    • Bardelys the Magnificent says:

      I think hamg has it right: this might be a little too abstract for online discussion. It would probably be better if there were more video examples to see the styles in action. Hence, my recommendation to watch the movie, then discuss. Not sure if you’re going to be able to pull this off without audio or video assistance.

      Like

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