There were some thoughts going around that I read that said to not reduce complexity to numbers, however, what is forgotten about here is how we communicate and understand problems. The good thing about numbers is that it’s a universal language that anyone can understand. You can read my former blog post for more detail.
Also, what needs to be considered is how your stakeholder likes to communicate. Some stakeholders may be analytical, so avoiding using numbers is going to work against you.
There is a lot of information out there, so I’ll be quoting some articles.
Figure out your manager’s communication style
The first article is from the Harvard Business Review. What I really like are the simple questions you can use to figure out their communication style.
Is my manager a listener or a reader? Listeners want to hear information first and read about it later. Readers prefer to see a written report before discussing it with you.
Does she prefer detailed facts and figures or just an overview? If she thrives on details, focus primarily on accuracy and completeness; if she prefers an overview, emphasize the clarity and crispness of the main idea.
How often does she want to receive information? Your manager may always want to receive updates at specified junctures or she may have different thresholds for each project, such as daily reporting on critical endeavors and periodic updates on secondary initiatives.
This is a little extra effort, however, if you go through these questions for a particular stakeholder, then you will be able to adapt your style to their needs. This will build up a relationship with them and you’ll be able to influence change quicker by getting your message across clearly.
4 Types of Communication Styles
There is also this other article about 4 Types of Communication Styles.
Direct Communicators — They like getting to the point and do not like small talk.
Analytical Communicators — They like the detail and are not big picture thinkers.
Collaborative Communicators — They like everyone having a chance to speak.
Expressive Communicators — Look at the big picture and not the finer details.
Invitation to complete an exercise to figure out the communication style of your stakeholder.
I would like to invite you to do an exercise. Pick out one of your stakeholders. Answer the three questions in the first article. Now retrospect on your communication style with them. Are you communicating in such a way that meets their style?
Ask the stakeholder directly
If you have an approachable stakeholder an option could be to reach out to them. Say you are learning about communication styles and want to know more about how they like to communicate, so you can adapt your style.