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Andrea Lechner-Becker

What Your High School Clique Says About Your Business Communication Style

Andrea Lechner-Becker / September 17, 2019 / 0 Comments

Your High School Clique Business Communication Style

When you think about cliche high school cliques, like jocks or geeks, what do you picture? For me, I immediately go to Saved By the Bell’s AC Slater and Screech, (respectively, of course). But, recently it occurred to us that a lot of departments within organizations act similar to cliques and it’s all about their communication styles. So, we thought it’d be interesting to breakdown the cliche cliques via communication styles, explore how those styles represent themselves in different departments and tips for how to best work with communication styles different than your own. Where do you fit?

Section 1: The 5 Styles of Business Communication According to High School Cliques

The 5 Styles of Communication Represented by Cliques

  • Jocks – Small Group Communication
  • Class President – Public Communication
  • Geeks –  Intrapersonal Communication
  • Artists – Mass Communication
  • Hipsters – Dyadic Communication

Jocks: Small Group Communication

Small Group Communication - Graphic

Small group communication is defined as communication between several different people where everyone is both a receiver of information and a source of information as they process and respond to the information received.

While jocks might have the reputation of being all brawn and no brain, the fact is athletes use critical thinking to problem-solve every day – their problems just exist on a field! 

Successful sports teams use Small-Group Communication to maintain a steady flow of information between each team member. They approach every game and competition looking for the most effective winning strategy. Every member is focused on the best way to use each team member to reach that common goal, even if it means that one player must sacrifice the spotlight or place in the starting lineup for the sake of a better strategy.

  • Jocks approach every problem as a team by looking for holes that can be filled with the skills of one of their teammates.
  • They tend to be satisfied with a “good job, team” because their contributions are valued by their teammates. However, calling out an MVP or a person who went above and beyond when applicable will fuel the naturally competitive nature athletes tend to have.
  • Jocks approach life with an “I want to win” attitude. They tend to be competitive and if team and project success is not the focus that is encouraged, their team chemistry will crumble into an “every man for himself” attitude.

Class President: Public Communication

Public Communication - Graphic

Public communication is when a single person acts as a source and there are a large number of receivers absorbing information first-hand.

When we say class president, the first thing that probably pops into your head is the social butterfly. The type who could flit from group to group, had tons of friends, and somehow remembered that you guys were in the same English class your freshman year. They’re personable, they’re friendly, they’re social, and they make you want to like them, which is all part of public communication. The class president was responsible for conveying information to a large audience that wasn’t typically in a position to talk back, in situations like assemblies or at school functions. They tend to relate to people very well, and they somehow manage to get you to purchase a ticket to an event you don’t want to go to and walk off before you know what happened.

  • The Class Presidents of the world are the type of people who remember your name and greet you personally. 
  • They are very good at filtering through information from various sources, boiling it down to one main message, and conveying that message effectively to a large group.
  • They love to be loved by everyone, which means they’re good at playing Devil’s Advocate and seeing multiple points of view.

Geeks:  Intrapersonal Communication

Intrapersonal Communication - Graphic

Intrapersonal Communication is communication that happens within yourself.

The geeks will inherit the earth, or so the saying goes. And this has a lot to do with how their intrapersonal communication sets themselves up for success. The stereotypical geek is quiet and introverted, which in practical terms means that they spend a lot of time in their own heads. This leads to a strong line of communication within themselves that allows them to process problems, focus on projects, and deliver strong work. They tend to approach problems with single-minded creativity and will bury themselves in a project until they have either found a solution or exhausted all options.

  • Geeks are passionate and knowledgeable in their fields and tend to be experts who can troubleshoot any project related to their area of expertise.
  • They tend to be most satisfied when they are given a problem to solve and allowed to research and strategize the best way to do it.
  • While geeks are certainly strategists and solution-oriented workers, they might be prone to tunnel vision when working on a project and might need to be reminded of the bigger picture at times.

Art Freaks: Mass Communication

Mass Communication - Graphic

Mass communication is communication where the source does not interact directly with their audience and instead uses some kind of medium to convey their message to the public.

By definition, the artists with their noses constantly in their sketchbooks are interpreting the world in digestible pieces for mass consumption. They are the ultimate communicators, but their work acts as a buffer between them and the outside world. This makes them mass communicators, who rely on a medium to convey their message to the world. They tend to look at the world with a unique point of view that they channel through their work, and accordingly, they are fantastic people to ask for a different approach.

  • Artists can offer a complete paradigm shift when presented with a problem.
  • They can typically find new and effective ways of communicating information to large groups of people in a way that will allow everyone to understand and interpret effectively.
  • Artists tend to let their work speak for itself, and might prefer a backseat in client and group communication.

Hipsters: Dyadic Communication

Dyadic Communication - Graphic

Dyadic communication is a communication method as information is passed between 2 people, both of whom send and receive information equally.

Ah, the hipsters, those trendy folk whose constant goal was to do cool things before they were cool. They use the communication method you’ve never even heard of. As trendsetters, they are strongest when they communicate one on one, discussing the cool new trend they’ve jumped onto and how it makes them unique. They’re persuasive and always looking for the next big thing, which makes them valuable team members with their ear to the ground for industry news.

  • Hipsters are always looking for an innovation that makes their job better or easier.
  • They love being the trendsetters of the group and they tend to be the one who will take longer on a project so they can incorporate this “cool new thing”.
  • They tend to stay away from conventional solutions, which means at times, they might overcomplicate things.

Section 2: Where to Find Your People in the Workplace

The reason cliques exist in high school is due to a group of like-minded people forming a bond because they see the world similarly and understand each other through their personalities. Similarly, the types of jobs that require specific communication styles can speak volumes on where you’re more likely to find like-minded people and an environment that suits your comfort level.

People who enjoy bouncing ideas off of a small group and people who prefer to trouble-shooting on their own will need a fundamentally different type of workplace environment to thrive. Here’s where we think different types of communication styles will thrive most in business setting:

Jocks in the Workplace: Small Group Communication

  • Marketing Teams
  • Sales Teams
  • Marketing Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Operations Teams

Class Presidents in the Workplace: Public Communication 

  • CEO’s
  • CFO’s
  • General Counsel
  • Sales Representatives
  • Marketing Managers
  • Human Resources

Geeks in the Workplace: Intrapersonal Communication

  • IT Specialists
  • Web Developers
  • Technical Writers
  • Operations (sales, marketing, revenue)

Art Freaks in the Workplace: Mass Communication

  • Graphic Designers
  • Web Designers
  • Writers

Hipsters in the Workplace: Dyadic Communication

  • Social Media Marketers
  • Content Marketing Writers
  • Digital Strategists

Section 3: How to Encourage Communication Between Personalities

The bottom line here is that communication comes in all different methods, and one person’s idea of great communication doesn’t necessarily align with everyone else’s. But, in order for a business to run smoothly, a system needs to be in place to bridge these communication styles seamlessly. It might seem almost impossible to create a system that incorporates everyone’s needs, but there are a few things you can do to ease the friction of different styles.

  1. Acknowledge the strengths of every communication skill. One is not inherently better than another. Focus on how each skill helps the company as a whole rather than insisting that one communication style will fit everyone.
  2. Encourage employees to ask what their coworkers need. One coworker might want once-weekly updates on their projects. Another might prefer to check the status themselves so they aren’t overwhelmed with update emails. Another might prefer to spend some time at the beginning of the week assessing status and creating a to do list to work through that week. By encouraging people to ask for what they need and in turn, accommodate the needs of others, people are more likely to make adjustments on their own, without the need for new guidelines that by their very design, can’t possibly address the needs of everyone.
  3. Implement a few key rules. There’s a difference between accommodating varying needs and having absolutely no structure to communication standards. By implementing a few minor things, whether it’s a weekly status meeting or a rule that every project stage must be documented in a central location, there are small things you can do to encourage some standard communication while keeping the process flexible as a whole.
  4. Understand the difference between communication styles. Realizing that some people need more consistent communication to feel involved while others feel bombarded by daily chats will allow you to create a productive environment for everyone. Giving people permission to say and do what they need to get their job done will not only foster productivity. It reinforces to your employees that you trust them and that they can work however they deem fit, provided they meet their deadlines.

In Conclusion: Business Communication Style Isn’t Scary After All

Business communication is the cornerstone of company success, whether it’s within the company itself or referring to the marketing strategy that presents your message to the world. If you’re looking for a fresh take on the communication style that will help meet your specific goals, contact us here. Our team specializes in customizable plans that will allow you to meet your specific goals.


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