We all know by now that communication is at the core of how we function on a daily basis. We communicate (in person, via video or by writing) to get what we want. We communicate to survive and to thrive day-to-day.

Most of the articles and blogs you read miss one vital first-step. To communicate successfully, you must first identify the type of person you are communicating with.

Call it what you will, behavioral typing, profiling, people-reading, etc. The very first step in communication is to identify and understand how the recipient interprets information and responds to their environment.

I am sure everyone has run into the following scenario: you leave a meeting thinking you were clearly understood by the participants, only to find out a few key people left the meeting clueless and their misunderstanding actually created a huge loss of productivity or maybe even resulted in an irate client.

A popular suggestion made in many articles and blogs on improving business communication to avoid the above-mentioned mistake, is to follow-up after a meeting with a list of key points or takeaways. This is a fantastic technique but it does not work for everyone.

Let me elaborate. Imagine there is a meeting between two people, Sam the CEO and Bob a contract employee. The goal of Sam’s meeting is to get Bob to enter four, pre-configured emails into their automation system by end of the day. Sam and Bob have been working together for a several months. Both of them just, “let it go” when they mis-communicate. They simply fix the error and move on. So far this hasn’t resulted in any major setbacks. However, at this meeting, both parties are stressed as they approach the launch date of Sam's company.

At the meeting, Sam speaks quickly and loudly and she is very direct. Loud and direct people, stress Bob out. Bob, shuts down his listening when he stressed. He perceives Sam as being too aggressive and forceful when she is pushing the idea that four emails have to be copied and pasted into software. Bob doesn’t understand the aggressive behavior when he has 5 hours to do a task he believes will take less than 30 minutes. Bob says nothing during the meeting. Sam, mistakes Bob’s silence as understanding and agreeing.