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How Personality Affects Workplace Communication

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

 – Playwright George Bernard Shaw

Communication is a key aspect of productivity in the workplace, with 86% of employees and executives citing lack of communication as the main culprit for workplace failure. In fact, a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 or more employees cited an average loss of $62 million each year due to inadequate communication to – and between – employees. For smaller companies with a staff of 100 or less, miscommunication costs average a whopping $420K per year.


So, what can companies do to increase the effectiveness of workplace communication?

Improving Communication in the Workplace

Communication is made up of four main components – listening, speaking, reading and writing. As children, we listen before we speak, and we read before we write. In the workplace, listening actively and speaking so that everyone understands the message are the first important steps toward effective communication. However, problems can arise when employees have different listening and speaking styles based on their personality types. With increased self-awareness and a grasp of how others are receiving the message, employees can improve their communication for the benefit of the company. 

Communication and Personality Types

According to the True Colors personality methodology, people fall into four different temperament categories – adventurous Orange, organized Gold, personable Blue and analytical Green. Each personality type has its own way of listening and speaking. When co-workers understand individual differences and preferences, they can make their communication techniques more effective.

Here are some strategies for communicating with different personality types in the workplace:

Communicating with Orange Personalities

People with an adventurous Orange personality listen for entertainment, impact, relevance and usefulness. Orange personalities are listening to figure out the motive of the speaker and what is expected of them as a result of the conversation. When communicating with Orange personalities, avoid lengthy conversations and make sure to reveal how the information will be useful to the listener to keep their interest.  

Communicating with Gold Personalities

Organized Gold personality types listen for details. When communicating with a Gold personality, plan a direct exchange without interruptions. Make sure to point out how the topic of the conversation is appropriate to the situation at hand and to the big picture so the Gold personality will “buy into” what is being asked of them. Be specific about what you expect the Gold individual to do by adding relevant details.

Communicating with Blue Personalities

Blue personalities are your typical “people persons.” When communicating with Blue personality types, make sure to form a rock-solid relationship before you speak. People with a Blue temperament are interested in the speaker first, and then the message. They listen for your values to see if they are in alignment with you, or if they’re not. Once they decide they are comfortable relating to the speaker, they feel free to focus on the message.

Communicating with Green Personalities

Analytical Green personality types listen for information and they assume that the speaker has approached them to solve a problem. They find it difficult to stay engaged in a conversation on a topic that does not interest them, and they will typically tune out redundancy and excessive emotion. When communicating with a Green personality, keep in mind that they may miss non-verbal clues like facial expressions and body language. Be clear when speaking and don’t expect Green temperaments to read between the lines.  

Messaging to Include Different Personality Types

The communication strategies listed above are useful for one-on-one conversations, where you are the speaker to individuals with various personality types. But what happens when you need to send out a memo to the entire team? 

When you write a message that is intended to be read by many, you can improve the chance that your message will be well-received and effective by addressing the full spectrum of color types in your communication. For example, say that you are emailing the team to invite them to an upcoming meeting. You might say that this is an exciting time of change for the company (appeal to Orange); that you will review data from the last meeting (appeal to Gold); that you will build in time to connect with other team members (appeal to Blue); and that you are interested in hearing their ideas (appeal to Green).

Embracing Personality Differences

At True Colors, we help organizations create a culture of success where every employee feels understood and empowered. True Colors drives positive change in organizations around the world by encouraging leaders and staff to embrace individual personality differences. We use personality tests based on proven temperament theory to teach leaders and co-workers personal awareness for improved communication, engagement, collaboration and productivity. 

When you partner with True Colors, an experienced Master Trainer will help evaluate your needs and set realistic, achievable goals. We help your organization thrive by implementing programs that meet challenges in leadership, team building and conflict. Our customized programs include online personality testing, consulting sessions, workshops, live events and keynote speaking engagements. 

For additional information about True Colors and how you can improve your workplace communication, please visit or call 800-422-4686.