What’s Your Communication Style? – MM #204

AdobeStock_89413714-woman-talking-to-man-copy.jpgAre you an amplifier or a condenser when it comes to your style of communicating? You probably never thought of using that terminology for how you talk to someone.

In communicating, it’s simply this: a person who is an amplifier is “someone who communicates by sharing what they have to say in great volumes of details”, according to author and psychologist Dr Norman Wright.

Someone whose style of communicating is that of being a condenser is one “who is most comfortable sharing little more than what is absolutely necessary.” Little is much in their eyes as far as how many words they use to communicate.

Dr Wright goes on to say:

Amplifiers give a number of descriptive sentences as they talk, while condensers give one or two sentences. In approximately 70 percent of marriage, the man is the condenser and the woman is the amplifier.”

“Neither is a negative trait, Dr Wright points out —they’re just different as to the amount of words they use when talking and also different in what they’d prefer others to use when talking to them. Often, “the amplifier wishes his or her partner would share more, while the condenser wishes his or her partner would share less. It is only when each of you adapts to the style of your partner that real communication occurs.”

That’s a difficult thing to do —especially when we’re sure that our way of communicating is the preferable way. But just because we think our way is the best, it doesn’t mean it’s so! God created us all different, “male and female” and we need to work with our differences instead of trying to make everyone do things our way.

Stretching yourself to compromise somewhere in between each of your styles of communicating, when one is an amplifier and the other is a condenser, can be like giving a gift of grace to your spouse when they long for you to use more or less words, when you’re talking to them.

As marriage counselor and author Dr Gary Chapman points out:

“Partnership is shared primarily by communication. One of a wife’s deepest desires is to know her husband. When he talks about his thoughts, feelings, and desires, she feels he’s allowing her into his life. When a husband goes long periods without talking about what he’s feeling or thinking, she senses that he’s cutting her out, which leads her to feel isolated.”

That’s why it’s so important if you’re a “Condenser” to try to talk more to your spouse if they’re an “Amplifier” than you might naturally do if you weren’t married to them. It’s important to the well-being of your marital relationship to do so.

But on the other hand, on behalf of someone who is “Condenser”, too many words can flood their thinking where they feel like they’re drowning in a “sea of words.”

As Dr Les Carter says:

“Don’t get too wordy. I’ve found that many people feel that more words mean more attention (or any attention). Not so. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. A few well-chosen words strike home better. So leave out minor details and if possible stream-line the presentation —stick to the point.”

Steve and I (Cindy) struggled with this issue for years. He’s a condenser and I’m an amplifier in our speaking styles. I used to get frustrated with him because he didn’t give me enough details when we’d talk. I thought he was withholding from me. So I would hunger for him to talk to me more. When I heard about this concept, I better understood that he wasn’t purposefully withholding from me. Giving fewer details was more natural to him.

On the other hand, Steve would get frustrated with the amount of words I would use when we’d talk. Now that I look back on it, I often saw his eyes kind of “glass over” when I was speaking in great detail. I thought it was rude of him to look so uninvolved with what I was saying. But now I know he just couldn’t handle all the information I was giving him. In actuality, I was being as rude to him by giving him all the details, as I thought he was being to me by giving less!

Making Each Style Work

In more recent years we’ve found ways to compromise on this issue. I try to be less wordy (saving the details for friends who enjoy them) and Steve tries to be wordier. What’s amusing is that we’ve both merged a bit in our communication styles. I’m getting less wordy and Steve is filling much wordier when we talk together. How ironic!

But there are still times when we each need to bend a little more on this issue. Sometimes I forget and get too detailed when I talk to Steve. So we’ve worked out a little system. For the most part Steve tries to listen to all of what I have to say —knowing it’s important to me. But when he’s just too tired and needs me to talk a little less, I’ve given him permission to give me a code word that when he says it, I know it’s as if he’s politely saying, “Please condense the amount of words you use.” (The word he uses is simply, “Readers Digest.”)

He doesn’t use it often. But when he does I take the cue graciously and shorten what I have to say. And ladies, here’s the important part. I don’t take offense when he uses it. I need to be gracious to him on this as I want him to be to me at other times when I need it.

And for Steve, sometimes I need more details when he talks to me. At those times (and I try not to ask for it too often) I ask him to please “talk to me more.” And Steve graciously gives me more details. We’ve both learned to stretch ourselves to accommodate the other on this important matter.

Different Styles

We’re both created different, and we recognize that. Different isn’t bad —it’s just different. Embracing our differences helps us to embrace each other in the way that God created us.

So as Dr Norman Wright says, “Ladies, if he’s an amplifier, go for it. If he’s a condenser, keep it brief”. And the same things go in the reverse order for you as men. Work with each other on this and you’d be surprised at how much this can improve your marital relationship!

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

Cindy and Steve Wright

Print Post

Filed under: Marriage Messages

Join the Discussion

Please observe the following guidelines:

  • Try to be as positive as possible when you make a comment.
  • If there is name-calling, or profane language, it will be deleted.
  • The same goes with hurtful comments targeted at belittling others; we won't post them.
  • Recommendations for people to divorce will be edited out–that's a decision between them and God, not us.
  • If you have a criticism, please make it constructive.
  • Be mindful that this is an international ministry where cultural differences need to be considered.
  • Please honor the fact this is a Christ-centered web site.

We review all comments before posting them to reduce spam and offensive content.


4 responses to “What’s Your Communication Style? – MM #204

  1. (USA)  I generally agree that men tend to be “condencers”, but it depends on the subject. For example when I ask my husband “who won the ball game last night.” I literally mean “who won”, one word answer, but he likes to tell me about how they played, who was ahead, how that hit, pitched, how many men were left on base etc. Also I have a poor sense of direction, so if I am driving someplace alone & ask my husband for directions, he has a great sense of direction and will usually give me about three different options (the quickest, safest, most direct, easiest,) on how to go and get me totally confused.

  2. (UK) Thanks for this article. It’s always worth reading other people’s observations/opinions as it helps to clarify our own.

    And, once again, the timing was perfect as I am in the middle of reading a book concerning the way bereaved people express themselves. One theory categorizes three different approaches; namely intuitive, instrumental and blended. This has opened my eyes to what now seems glaringly obvious. I see a chap I would identify as very intuitive -talks about his feelings, shows his emotions, expresses his anger, regret, sadness. It all pours out. His wife attends a different session and she also gets upset but rarely tells us how she is feeling, instead talks about family dynamics, seeks information about events leading to the death, wanting to know more. Going back over the events, according to my book she is instrumental (cognitive). The blended approach is supposed to be a mix of the two. Statistically men are usually instrumental and the women are intuitive. Thought it over-lapped slightly with your article. m x

  3. (CANADA) It’s not just women and men, men condensers vs men amplifiers, the right way isn’t very clear. I know a guy who deals in absolutes and while he can be articulate, he keeps it reserved. He just prefers the condenser way to deal with people who are not close even when the condensed details lead to almost no idea exchange. It’s cool, there is still a balance and outgoingness. He works in retail management.

    One of my best friends since childhood however, who is very similar to me physically, isn’t very outgoing, articulate, intuitive, and creative in his social responses so we don’t talk or communicate and when I try to communicate we only talk. He was the only person of my ethnicity growing up and there were always cliques that made us feel unwelcome or nothing to do and say socially so our social skills aren’t very sharp as men. We didn’t want to be like the other hooligans so it was the cool kids and just us. He’s taking psychology and I wanted to ask him about his views on women, I might get a I don’t know or a very limited unsophisticated answer. I don’t know how and if he passes that course since I would imagine it requires us to be intuitive and creative.

    I’m not a flawless communicator myself when it comes to details and vagueness, target audience and topics but I try. That’s why I am here.