Colors of Communication

I’m swimming in a pool of ideas and passion.

I can sit in a car and come up with three decent concepts within 30 minutes. By the next morning, after a sleepless night of letting my thoughts run wild, I’ll tell you their aesthetic direction and brand personality. Most importantly, I’ll tie each idea back to helping a good cause, typically in the health and wellness space… as best I can, anyway.

That’s my green and yellow showing.

My dad has blue pouring out of him. He’s incredibly organized and thorough, builds his projects to last, and walks his life in one straight line. When my beat-up, broke-down Volvo blew up on me for the millionth time (okay, not blew up — more like stopped moving on the 605 freeway), he hopped on forums, scouted for parts, and cranked and yanked beneath the hood until everything ran better than ever before. What should have been a dead car is now happily rolling around the neighborhood — bonus: with a new and improved stereo system. But did I mention it took him 3 years to do it? 

I love talking to him even though we don’t understand each other half the time. He has such a straightforward approach to thinking, while I use feelings and intuition as my greatest guides. So when I tried to explain to him that I was dipping out of the country to explore Thailand for a year… uh, I was speaking a different language.

Humans have different ways of… being. We all have unique styles and approaches to communication. So when you feel like that friend of a friend is completely arrogant or your ex-gf is a total scatterbrain, they might not actually be as bad as you perceive them. Perhaps, you all just speak a different language… aka, have different communication styles.

But let’s take it back to my prime example: me and my #1 man (my dad).

I admire him. His patience and precision are incomparable to anyone I know, and it’s certainly a trait that’s kept my family under the same roof our entire lives (fun fact: he’s been in the same house since he was three years old). Unless there’s a need or deep, deep interest to explore, he won’t. My cells definitely formed completely opposite of his, so when I told him my past job sucked my soul because I wasn’t doing anything “good for the world” and “I wasn’t happy”, his eyes shifted left and right. When I explained the pay was low, his head tilted back and forward like there was a mental click. But now, when I explain why I only want to work for value-aligned companies, he'll respond with a painfully familiar, “oookay?”.

I love my dad so much. I hope to have half the kindness and caution he carries so effortlessly, but I had to accept a long time ago that he wouldn’t communicate with me the way my friends do. He likely won’t ever discuss my favorite topics with me, because those tend to be deeper and more emotional. I stopped expecting him to finish favors by a certain date, because they wouldn’t be completed until years after I asked. I especially won’t wait for him to tune into my mood of the day, because he won’t. He never will. He’s a little different from me in that way, but I don’t want him any other way.

To him, I’m that social, carefree daughter of his. Pretty sure he’s accepted me by now too, which is why he’ll respond to my latest and greatest ideas with that “oookay?” I mentioned. He runs with my thoughts as best he can, even if he has zero idea what I’m blabbering about.

Do you have that someone? Who you just quite don’t understand their actions? They mean so well, but you can’t wrap your mind around why they choose to react certain ways. Or how they approach confrontations with such calm… or aggression? What color are they? See below — info pulled from Bowline.

Blue:

  • Cautious

  • Precise

  • Deliberate

  • Questioning

  • Formal

Red:

  • Competitive

  • Demanding

  • Determined

  • Strong-willed

  • Purposeful

Green:

  • Caring

  • Encouraging

  • Sharing

  • Patient

  • Relaxed

Yellow:

  • Sociable

  • Dynamic

  • Demonstrative

  • Enthusiastic

  • Persuasive

And what color are you? Take a second look. Don’t feel a need to squeeze yourself into one category — you’re a mix of all of them. I’m Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red in that order.

Each color can adjust their style to best match who they’re talking to. This allows for more efficient communication and lessens frustrations. If a yellow approaches a blue, they have to ditch the happy hour talk and get straight to the facts. If a red approaches a green, they should tread with caution knowing a red’s naturally demanding manner might hurt a green’s emotions. Get it?

Now, while I can’t tell you your exact colors, nor the colors of your friends and lovers, I can leave you with a small snippet of advice.

Be tolerant. Be forgiving.

People generally mean well. We’re all trying our best to stumble gracefully through conversations and confrontations the best way we know how. So when you’re friend/lover/whoever is annoying you by their approach, remember that you’re both just a little different. Work through it!

How can you best match your “someone’s” style for better communication? How can they match yours? Give it some thought and put it to use in your next interaction!


P.S. After writing this, I met up with an old teacher who apparently took the same test, but his company tied it back to animals. Red was tiger, blue was owl, yellow was peacock, and green was dolphin. Fun!