In any setting, our ability to communicate is vital. Communication entails the way we receive, understand, process, and share information. This is usually engrained in who we are and our personality. Mark Murphy, an American leadership coach, identified four types of communication styles that people use in the workplace.

These are personal, intuitive, functional, and analytical. These communication styles help us function properly in teams and understanding our communication style and those of others helps in having functional diverse teams. It also helps in avoiding misunderstandings. Of the four communication styles, this article is going to focus on functional communication.

Key characteristics of functional communication styles

Functional communicators are perceived to be reliable, and employers trust them to follow through with their plans. This is why most functional communicators end up in project management or leadership positions as they are good at putting systems in place and guiding others through those systems. Below are some core competencies of functional communicators:

Step-by-step processes

From start to finish, functional communicators possess the ability to create a workflow system that shows a step-by-step process of how a project or problem will be tackled. They do this so that nothing will be missed, and they know they have given all the information their team members need.

No short-cuts

Because they value the process, functional communicators will not take shortcuts or try to cut corners. They are trusted to be thorough and to work with integrity. They are not worried about how long something will take as long as it is done right.


Because they are invested in the step-by-step process it means that they are detail-oriented too. They take notice of even minute details and figure out how they connect to the process. To help them keep track, they often employ the use of timelines and checklists that must be adhered to.


Their ideas are easy to implement because of the easy-to-follow system they create. When leading a team, it is easy to keep track of progress and make adjustments where needed. Their thought-out process aids in the completion of projects.

How to work with functional communication styles

When there is a functional communicator in a team, it will be safe to let them oversee projects that need a lot of attention to detail. They are also great to work with if they are allowed room and space to figure things out independently before they must come and communicate with the whole team. Their process takes time, so refrain from asking for constant feedback but rather wait till they’re ready to share.

Show confidence in their work by actively listening to their process and asking relevant questions. If there is a project discussion or a brainstorming session, allow them to ask questions and be courteous by giving them the details they might need.

This shows them that you value their input and are invested in giving them the help they might need. Do not ask them to rush the process for quick results. They will take a project through each step to ensure it is properly implemented.

Final words

Functional communicators have been praised for their effectiveness in conveying important information, their process can be easy to follow and hence this makes them great at what they do.

However, if they are working in a team with other diverse styles of communication, there can be a challenge. While they are great at implementation, they can also be difficult to work with and keep other team members fully engaged.

The reason for this is that some people who have different communication styles might struggle with the process of going through a step-by-step explanation. Their meetings can easily be too long and boring so engagement and concentration might be hard for other team members.

Because their processes are usually well thought out, functional communicators might struggle with adaptability when situations suddenly change or there is a need for course correction.

Reach out for assistance

While they excel in clearly communicating complex information, functional communicators sometimes struggle with the more nuanced side of communication and human interactions. If you are a functional communicator and need assistance in improving your communication abilities, reach out to our offices.

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