Gathering competitive intelligence depends on communication. As competitive intelligence professionals, you communicate daily. You need to communicate your research results with managers, executives and other competitive intelligence professionals. You also communicate the importance of competitive intelligence in reports to the management.
Every individual has their own communication style. Each style is unique and can be very effective in certain situations, but less so in others. Communication styles vary across competitive intelligence professionals, but people tend to fall into one of four general categories: competitive, empathetic, neutral and aggressive.
Although competitive intelligence professionals may sometimes be placed in the aggressive category, competitive intelligence is more typically considered a “neutral” field by many professionals that will include both competitive and empathetic competitive intelligence professionals.
Depending on the situation and the information that you want to convey, one style may prove more useful than another. However, if competitive intelligence professionals are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as communicators it will help them a great deal.
This is typically someone who wants to “win” or outperform their peers or competitors. Competitive types tend to be competitive at heart and may sometimes have a difficult time taking the competitive intelligence job seriously.
This professional can sometimes cause problems in their competitive intelligence teams, where they are more focused on gaining competitive advantage than acting as a useful resource for others. However, competitive types are typically very intelligent and logical people that take pride in being able to understand complex business situations quickly.
One of the most important skills competitive intelligence professionals can learn is how to use objective and logical language when working in a team. Competitive professionals need information that they can use to gain a competitive advantage, which often means objective or factual information that they can use right away.
The empathetic professional is somebody who strives to understand others and establish a positive impression of their team in the eyes of upper management. Empaths often have great interpersonal skills, but they may lack the ability to look at the competitive intelligence project from a logical perspective. Empathetic competitive intelligence professionals must learn to separate their own emotions from projects.
This professional can be someone who can fit into almost any situation. A neutral competitive intelligence professional is usually the type of person who would do well in any competitive or empathetic competitive intelligence team since they are capable of switching between the two styles.
The aggressive competitive intelligence professional is somebody who wants to “win” at all costs, even if it means making competitive intelligence teams feel uncomfortable while they are trying to convey information. Aggression doesn’t work well in competitive intelligence because it can make people nervous and less likely to speak to competitive intelligence teams. It is important for aggressive competitive intelligence professionals to remember that the point of competitive intelligence is coordination, not competition.