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Most often, startup communications are viewed as a function of marketing. While external connections are necessary, how people interact within a company is essential to their ability to operate as a strong team and succeed. 

In a previous post, we examined how diversity benefits the quality of human resources and the overall health of an organization -  personalities that balance each other make a better co-founding team. But how does this apply to communication? 

In aviation, pilots and flight attendants are obligated to regularly undertake Crew Resource Management (CRM) training that is mainly focused on the relationship between crew members. Safety-wise, human errors and poor communication are the number one cause of incidents. Similarly, smooth interactions within a startup is a guarantee to prevent it from disasters. 

In this article, we will explore how individual psychological traits affect communication styles and lead a startup to success or failure.

Amidst its widespread use and diverse meanings, we'll zoom in only on a few communication elements that are relevant to startups.

Communication is not just a transaction

In the book Organizational Behavior published by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, communication is viewed as fulfilling three main duties within an organization - transmitting, coordinating, and expressing:

‘’Communication fulfills three functions within organizations, including coordination, the transmission of information, and sharing emotions and feelings. Noise can disrupt or distort communication.’’

Since people are not machines, there are multiple layers of passing through a message from one person to another, and some of them are irrational.

Types of communication 

In her study The Types of Communication, Dr. Radhika Kapur, classifies communication in two categories - based on channel and based on style and purpose. Here’s the breakdown of this separation:


  • Verbal - can be oral and written; the most common type.

  • Non-verbal - subtle but can be controlled.

Style and purpose

  • Formal - it usually happens through a predetermined channel and is crucial for an individual’s professional life. Here, factors like following a well-defined structure, knowing one’s audience, regulating the tone, and time limit should be taken into account.
  • Informal - also called grapevine communication, its primary characteristic is the word of mouth information: ‘’The main features of this type of communication are, it is spontaneous and free-flowing without any formal protocol or structure. Hence, the level of accuracy and reliability is less in this type of communication.’’

The same research states three other types of communication that play an important role in organizations: 

  • Feedback Communication - facilitates evaluation of performance and provides support
  • Visual Communication - takes place on a continuous base
  • Active Listening - makes relationships effective and meaningful

In addition to all these nuances of the synergies within a startup team, we should consider that they are further modified when the communication is online. And that’s the case with all tech companies most of the time.

Communication Styles

A communication style is a person’s preferred way of expressing thoughts, ideas, and emotions.

Dr. Daria S. LaFave, a communication instructor at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), along with other social scientists, identifies four common styles of communication - passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive, and assertive. 

  • Passive Communication - might lead to misunderstanding because of fear of speaking up. 

  • Aggressive Communication - might result in inflexibility because of uncontrolled anger and excessive judgment. 

  • Passive-Aggressive Communication - might cause confusion and resentment because of holding on to negative emotions and an inability to be straightforward. 

  • Assertive Communication - the healthiest style because it’s confident, honest, and also respectful of others' thoughts and feelings. 

Personality type affects communication style.

Psychology experts suggest that factors like culture, gender, and social roles can alter one’s communication style. However, personality and self-awareness are the most influential.

Entrepreneur DNA and Communication Styles

Founder Institute has developed the Entrepreneur DNA Assessment to measure the traits of high-potential startup founders. The test is based on our research of over 100 scientific articles and the data on startup founders we’ve been collecting during the last 15 years. 

Learn more about the Entrepreneur DNA Methodology here

This is how we link the available information with different communication styles and entrepreneurial success:

  • The majority of founders fit into nine main personality profiles. - We gave these profiles names such as The Hustler, The Strategist, The Visionary, etc. Each of them has the fine points that make them unique, including the manner in which they communicate. For instance, the Hustler is direct and outspoken, while the Strategist is more careful about the way they come across. Knowing the differences between profiles and how they affect communication can significantly increase the engagement of startup team members.

Certain traits correlate to communication styles. From our research and experience working with startup founders, we've pinponed the following traits that shape a person's communication style. 

The extent to which individuals exhibit these traits shapes how they communicate with others. For example, an overly assertive entrepreneur may not be a good listener, and vice versa; a lack of assertiveness can be unsettling.

    1. Assertiveness
    2. Social Skills

    3. Collaboration

    4. Trust

    5. Agreeableness 

    • The DNA test is a precise tool for organizations. - Besides helping founders better reflect on their personalities and their teammates' qualities, the Assessment offers advice tailored to the needs of managers willing to optimize their teams. As it aligns with its original purpose, the Entrepreneur DNA is an excellent solution for startup acceleration and incubation programs, too. Lastly, it offers an action plan, helping startup founders grow their communication strengths, as well as soften their sharp edges. 

    As long as entrepreneurs want to improve their personality traits, they can easily upgrade their communication skills and become better managers or team members.

    Self-knowledge and an understanding of the capabilities and limitations of others will undoubtedly speed up this process. 

    Learn more about the Entrepreneur DNA Assessment

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