Humanity’s Mortar

We’ve all heard the expression “shoots from the hip” used to describe someone who “says what they mean, and means what they say.” Their style of communication is decisive and strong.

In my perspective, communication is the mortar that holds humanity together; it’s the very currency of our society. Each of us dips our toes into four communication styles, but works from a primary stance:

  • Expresser — relies on feelings, tends to ask “Who?”
  • Relater — relies on relationships, tends to ask “What?”
  • Analyzer — relies on data, tends to ask “How?”
  • Driver — relies on cooperation, tends to ask “What?”


There are people in each category who are clear, concise, and articulate in their delivery style.

Brick and Mortar


Likewise, there are people in each category who are a bit fuzzy in getting their point across.

IMG_7562

What is your primary communication style?

© Laurie Buchanan

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70 thoughts on “Humanity’s Mortar

  1. Spiritually and artistically speaking (he, he, he) –– I tend to like the velvety green moss on the wall of bricks. Probably because, of my human-ness as I attempt to interpret and express what I hear Spirit speaking to my soul. Thank God for grace and compassion as I speak my truth into the universe. Moreover, I thank God for those people in the world who do put forth the effort to communicate one with another … and let Spirit work out the details.

  2. The graphics in your brick and mortar metaphor: apt!

    I agree with the first commenter; I cycle through all of them particularly through various times in my life. As a professor in my relationships with colleagues and initiatives, I was an analyzer and driver. Now, retired from teaching I am more of a expresser and relater as I shall be today having lunch with these same colleagues. As a writer? Hmmm . . .

    Human relationships are complex, and sometimes I think they transcend labels.

  3. Yes, like most people above we might all have a preferred one but probably can adapt/adopt others depending on the needs. In an ideal world we would adapt to the person and the circumstances but it depends on how we are at the time. Thanks for making us reflect about this…

  4. I have never thought about communication this way and have no idea what I am. I suspect, as others have said, that what I am depends on the circumstances.

  5. This is a tough one. I suspect I am a driver style though others experience me as a relater style. Being naturally rather warm and friendly is where the confusion rests because I am truly all about getting the job done the easiest and best way possible – which means relating well with others to engage their assistance 🙂

  6. Laurie, I am utterly fascinated by this and have been thinking about questions all morning. Thoughts have gone out in many directions and am watching when questions arise. Have already learned at least one thing! One of my go-to questions is “Should I….?” As in “Should I go swimming today?” “Should I write a blog?” It has now become quite clear that this no longer serves. Would prefer to ask, “Do I feel like going swimming today?” “Do I feel like writing a blog?” To get it back to the feelings, the deep knowings, rather than encasing the question in a “should”. So THANK YOU! What lovely food for thought! Can’t wait to explore more questions and see what they reveal.

  7. Hi Laurie

    For me the classification system described is inadequate. I guess that in that system I would be an analyser, yet giving that answer conceals more than it reveals.

    As many others have noted, we all have multiple responses to different contexts.
    To me it seems clear that it is context that is the greatest determinant of our response to the world. To the degree that we generate that context internally, independent of external circumstance is to a good first order approximation of the degree to which we have choice in being.

    For me, understanding, asking how, what, where, when, who and why questions to the greatest depth I am able, delivers a depth of influence to the model of the world that my brain makes that I get to experience as reality, that is most satisfying to me.
    And I acknowledge that even with all the modelling and systems understanding that I have, I am, and must always be, profoundly more ignorant than I am knowledgeable, and for me that is no excuse for intentional ignorance at any level.

    So I tend to use a mix of stream of consciousness and logic and experience and integrity as to my personal experience to deliver as much depth and breadth of communication as I can, in the full knowledge that I am unlikely to succeed to the depth I desire. And I am persistent!

    For me it makes a lot of sense to investigate to the greatest depth I am able, what classes of things are predictable, and what are not, and in any specific situation to use that information make the best guess I can as to the probabilities involved around all of the very many levels of uncertainty present. Sometimes things are quite predictable, like computer circuits, and sometimes things are almost completely unpredictable, like the weather at any particular place and time.

    Having some reasonable idea of what one is capable of influencing, and what one needs simply to accept whatever happens, seems to be a big part of wisdom and responsibility. It seems to me that many of the heuristics that our cultural systems supply us with by default to determine such things have been sculpted by a select few in the interests of that few, and to the detriment of the majority.

    It seems clear to me that any human being capable of speech has roughly the same mental capacity as everyone else, it is just that our cultural systems tend to direct most of that capacity into particular ways of thinking that are more in the interests of a small group than in the interests of the individual doing the thinking or humanity more generally.

    So I am all for knowing oneself to the greatest degree possible, and for me that means going far beyond simplistic classifications, and accepting that every human being is complex beyond the ability of any human being to recognise, yet most are trapped by habit and unexamined assumptions into accepting a reality that offers far less than their potential.

    • Ted — I absolutely agree that the four communication styles listed in this post are a ginormous generalization.

      I also agree with your observation “that it is context that is the greatest determinant of our response to the world.”

      Further, I agree that “knowing oneself to the greatest degree possible” is essential.

      More importantly, I believe that if each one of us lived the highest and best version of ourself, the world would look oh-so-positively different.

      Thank you for yet another thought-filled, thought-provoking response 🙂

  8. I am working on another aspect of my communication style right now. The therapist says I need to slow down my words and get the breath behind my front teeth (brighter) to stop the muscle spasms of the esophagus which stop the breath completely. It is difficult work and I find myself being rather silent these days 🙂

    • Patricia — From an outsider’s perspective, I find what you’ve described fascinating. I’m equally confident that would not be the case if I were the one doing the difficult work. My best wishes to you.

  9. I have no idea, Laurie! I think how I communicate depends on the type of communication and the situation. Certainly, oral communication with family and friends is different from writing, and formal writing and informal writing are different. I think I tend to see relationships between things–and I want to know who did something and why they did it (at least with stories), as well as what happened.

  10. Laurie, well, that’s an excellent question! Since I tend to be a bottom line person, spending little time to get to the information I want to deliver or receive, I tend to disable a few social filters along the way and can sound unnecessarily abrupt at times. But like most, I do variate from time to time, depending on the subject matter and the person I am communicating with. I’ll have to put a little more thought into this, thanks for bringing it to my attention. Super graphics!

  11. I’m not the brightest pin in the box Laurie , unlike your lovely followers, so I had to think a little about this question . You have an amazing ability to shift the brain cells and blow out the cobwebs that have settled over the winter …
    I am not a relater and never a driver so that makes me somewhere between a expresser and a analyzer . I always work with my feeling , especially my gut ones , and my dear husband says I analyze everything …that’ s just little ‘ol me I guess .
    Love the shapes and colours of the photos . I love taking photos of nothing in particular then I come home and find it’s a whole lot more than I give it credit for.
    Cherryx

  12. I have to think about this. I am probably an expressed or relater, but I hadn’t really thought about this aspect of communication. Thanks for the thought provoking blog, Laurie.

  13. Wow! good post Laurie. I am a bit of both Expresser and Relater. And, more than I would like to admit, am a bit fuzzy at getting my point across at times 😦 Sometimes I think I have too many thoughts running through the streets in my brain 🙂

  14. Not totally sure, but I think I am an ‘Expresser’ as I care about people’s feelings. Definitely clear and concise. I like transparency and don’t beat about the bush, or, as they say over here: “I call a spade a shovel”

  15. Laurie, I guess I can say that my style changes depending on who I am speaking to. I will almost NEVER say anything (unless I am angry for good reason) that will hurts someones feelings, and am prome for good or for bad to tell people what they want to hear–there is a politician’s heart beating in good measure. Still, I will more than not divulge what I am thinking with a good number of people, and there are some benefits to that strategy too. Love the brick metaphors here!

  16. This is such a good way to think about communication! I do see myself dipping the toe into each one, but I know that I am an analyzer. When I was in public accounting asking how and why were just so natural. It drives my husband a little crazy since he never asks question and so he isn’t always prepared for my barrage of inquisitory questions which allow me to analyze;)

  17. The first communication tool that I tend to use is listening, which was not always the case. It’s been something I’ve learned how to practice after years of blurting out my own pent up thoughts towards anyone that would listen.

    So my answer is that nowadays, after listening first, I would say that I lean in the direction of Driver, as I have a tendency to look for the connective tissue that might help one person understand another. It is a category that I fell into naturally, having spent many years playing the part of an interpreter between two opposing personalities (my husband and our youngest son). Years and years of trying to build a bridge between them taught me the language of compromise and common ground. It’s been something that stayed with me, long after the need for my interpretive skills had passed, and has served me well, both in business, and in life. Sometimes it even helps me in the conversations I have with myself.

    • Ntexas99 — I absolutely the personal example you shared here. It’s been said that, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Clearly you got the memo and have put it to great use! 🙂

  18. Laurie, I’m so confused!!! I am very definitely a people person and have a personal approach to blogging is very important to me. I also like to see familiar faces among commenters and will often say hello to someone else I know just like giving a wave from your car when you drive passed.
    On the subject of the brick, I can’t help wanting to throw it and see broken glass and am reminded of a song: “she’s a brick & I”m drowning slowly”…
    If it’s not moss in my head, it could well be mould.
    xx Rowena

      • Thanks, Laurie. I really appreciate your appreciation of my blog the feeling is mutual. I came up with a new brick term today and thought of your post. My husband’s mobile phone wasn’t working and amidst his curses, he said: “It was bricked”, which basically means being turned into a brick. He comes up with some good terms at times.

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