Communication Tips From the Retired Spy

by | Jun 29, 2023 | Leadership, Personality Styles

American businessman Bill Gates once said that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other and achieve the kind of freedoms they’re interested in.

Communication is the foundation of any relationship, be it personal or professional. It’s the primary means through which we express ourselves and connect with others. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to communication. Not only because of our differences in culture and language but also because of our personal biases and prejudices.

As a retired contact handler, this is a concept that I’ve been exposed to and have learned to adapt to. As contact handlers, we were often sent into a hostile environment where we were tasked to cultivate sources within that environment, determine their intentions, and modify their behaviours if or when required. So as you can imagine, that is a pretty hard job for someone who doesn’t have any Jedi mind tricks at his or her disposal, right?

I was sent to the UK to be trained and learn the skill set required of a contact handler, and then I was deployed to Bosnia Herzegovina, and I had the distinction of being the first Canadian trained within this field since the Second World War. Honestly, though I was worried at first, this training was a game changer for me because interacting with different people made me realize the impact that effective communication can make.

Having said that, in this blog, I’ll discuss and share ways to connect and communicate successfully with different types of people.

Recognizing The Importance Of Effective Communication

Recognizing The Importance Of Effective Communication

It’s no secret that everyone wants to talk. Everyone wants to be heard and to be able to share their stories. It’s a natural instinct for humans to have the desire to interact and communicate. And because of that, all of our actions and the effects of our actions are inextricably linked and built around our ability to converse with others. Communication helps us to get by, understand situations, pass on information, and form relationships.

However, as mentioned, barriers to effective communication are inevitable. Things like selective perception, emotional disconnect, lack of familiarity, and differences affect our ability to get a message across.

So what happens when both parties are unable to understand each other? Well, it can only lead to misunderstandings or disagreements, which can turn into a snowball effect of other more negative things.

For instance, if it’s related to work, miscommunication results in an inefficient team, leading to higher employee turnover rates. On the other hand, lapses in communication can also go as far as destroying relationships and causing resentment or trauma. Things don’t need to go wrong due to ineffective communication because there are ways for us to mend them before it even gets to that point.

A Way Past Communication Barriers

As someone with experience communicating with people of different ethnicities, I realized there is a way out of these communication barriers. How? By determining one’s preferred communication style.

Much like the elements that create the barriers, communication styles are also the effect of experiences, environments, and encounters that we go through as we move on with life. But, they are more like a workaround that helps us move past these barriers.

For you to decode a person’s preferred communication style, there are four factors you need to take note of. I call them the rapport ladder, which helps us establish and maintain rapport or the highest state of relatability between two people. Below is a thorough explanation of them.

A Way Past Communication Barriers


As mentioned earlier, there is no doubt that everyone wants to be heard. All we have to do is to provide them with a safe environment where they know you’ll openly receive their story or message. So, the first thing you need to do is to listen in silence. Give them the space to express their sentiments and thoughts so you can enlist a proper response.


After that, the next thing to do is to observe. This includes their gestures, eye-accessing cues, tonality, and even the words they choose to tell their story. Why? Because it allows us to see the bigger picture and recognize where they’re coming from.


Now that you’ve gathered all these insights and information, it’s time to discern their preferred communication style. There are many different ways in which people process varying forms of communication. But for me, what worked best was adopting the four temperament model of human behaviour.

The best way to connect with a particular temperament style is to determine how a person perceives the world, which consists of two things:

Pace Perspective – This refers to our preferred pace of environment; one that is fast pace or slower pace.

Priority Perspective – This is how a person organizes their list of priorities for tasks and towards people.

By combining how a person responds to these two factors, you can easily tell how they choose to navigate within their environment and the people around it.


So now that you’ve got all these details, the only thing left for you to do is to craft the most suitable response to their model of human behaviour. For instance, if a person is more reserved and task-oriented and also chooses to be cautious and have calculated actions, then connecting with them would mean conversing in slow and structured responses.

The main goal is to adapt to who they are as a person to create the most viable way or manner to get your message across. At this point, it doesn’t matter if you both speak different languages or dialects because once you know how to connect with them, mutual understanding is easier to achieve.

Connect With People By Design, Not By Chance

Communication is a helpful and powerful tool when used correctly. It’s a two-way street that will work best if both parties are able to build rapport and understand one another. True enough, there are many ways to find common and lasting links with people. But if your goal is to connect with others by design without leaving it up to chance, making sense of a person’s communication style is the most definitive way to do it.

Let me help you become more proficient in understanding and decoding human behaviour through my DISC Assessment Certification. To learn more about this proven system, book a call with me today for more details.

JJ Brun, The Retired Spy

JJ Brun is a recognized global authority on human behaviour, communications, and relationship development who served for 20 years in the Canadian Forces in the field of Human Intelligence. JJ has dedicated his life and his business to training thousands of people in the principles of human behaviour and effective communication practices across cultures.

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