Back to the ICT Theory Connections

Theory Information

Communication Styles is "a pattern of verbal and nonverbal behaviors that comprises our preferred ways of giving and receiving information in a specific situation. The message content is the what, the communicators the who, and communication style is the how.” (Hofner Saphiere, Kappler Mikk, Ibrahim DeVries, 2005). Many lists of broad differences in styles help us begin to understand cultural differences in our everyday talk (direct, indirect, and circular, for example). Debriefing the intricacies of the differences helps participants understand that there are many ways to be each of the styles (Ann's idea of being direct may be very different from Jing's) and that we may easily misinterpret others because of style differences.


Professional development programs for staff, faculty, and students should be implemented to improve communication and learning. Also, information dissemination, training, and marketing for intercultural events and workshops can be maximized in using salient communication channels. When encountering a "problem", one of the first questions international educators should ask is "what role might communication style differences play in the development and understanding of this problem?" The follow-up question is: "What roles do style differences play in the resolution?"

Programs that are "connected” to Communication Styles theory meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Program pays attention to different communication styles of participants, and may even highlight these differences (such as an event of storytelling).
  • Program educates participants explicitly about communication style differences and possibility for misinterpretation and/or strategies for bridging style differences.