The Impressionator Communicator

How to know when the communicator car you’re riding in is being driven wildly by an Impressionator? Here are the emotional signposts that sensitive Empathizer communicators use:

You feel stuck in what they will or won’t do.

You don’t feel listened to.

You feel like you’re going crazy trying to understand what’s going on.

You feel drained, like you’re slogging through knee-high mud.

You feel shock and awe that everyone around you sings praises of the crafty Impressionator.

You feel sorry for their woes and misfortunes.

Impressionators have a way of, well, carefully leaving impressions in your heart and mind, but they don’t ever fully commit to showing their emotional hands.


I discovered the rare Impressionator communicator type while doing field research using the innovative Talk to Me© effective communication system. Impressionator is the word I coined because it best fits the foot of the Cagey Communicator. Metaphors galore help define the Impressionator: The elephant in the room was brought to you by the Impressionator. The ostrich whose head is buried deep in the sand is a friend of the Impressionator. In fact, your Impressionator is as slippery as a fish. He or she is a sly-as-a-fox man or woman who can’t commit to anything except getting into your chicken coop…with your consent! Legends in their own minds, Impressionators give all who come near the impression that they are the rainmaker who will make flowers grow in the desert.


Impressionator combines impression maker and terminator because loss and grief are intricately linked to this communicator style. Where the Impressionator travels, grief and loss are soon to follow. This always describes the two faces or masks worn by the same person. The impression-maker and the terminator. There is no bigger challenge in all the communication universe than to coexist with an Impressionator! You’d better buckle up and be prepared to be surprised and vilified. The going’s going to get rough. And guess whose fault that will be? Spell the answer along with me…Y-O-U-R-S!

Have you heard the sucking noises of your energy being drained away? Are psychic bodies left strewn all around the room or corporate table when the Impressionator really lets it all hang out? Then guess with whom you’re talking and get ready to learn some new smooth moves, to keep your wits about you and help lower your anxiety level.


Actually, Impressionators are remarkable communicators who produce powerful results by making you think what they want you to think, and, simultaneously, convincing you to fear a future loss by following a current recommended course of action. (Are you confused about why one would fear a future loss, then keep following the recommended course of action to cause the loss? Control, baby, control!) Between the lines of actual communication, charming, charismatic, aw shucks innocence is used to speak volumes of commands to you, netting these affects in you:

  • You feel like you’re crazy when talks go bad with the Impressionator
  • A tall wall is thrown up whenever you question the actions of an Impressionator
  • Talking with the Impressionator is more painful than pulling teeth
  • “It’s wasn’t my fault!” is always the stated and implied message
  • Unnecessary business or personal blunders will be repetitively made and always rationalized
  • Arrogant stubbornness: “Why should I always be the one who has to change?”
  • Impressionators’ ears hear only what they want to hear, and it must always be in support of their beliefs and positions
  • Almost everyone who doesn’t really know your special Impressionators will love them and think you’re SO lucky
  • You feel treated like a second-class citizen, unimportant, led on, left hanging
  • The very rules that you feel honor-bound to follow, will be broken by the Impressionator
  • Corrective feedback is challenged with, “But I don’t always do that!”
  • What you see in public is not what you get behind closed doors, when Jekyll becomes Hyde
  • You can seldom get the Impressionator to follow-through on promises
  • For awhile, you may be given or driven to the impression that the Impressionator is working hard to improve, when in fact he or she is still being lazy, making no changes for the better

In spite of all the heartache you’ve experienced, even after the countless times you’ve been hurt or let down, you will still feel sorry for the Impressionator.


Impressionators are slick communicators with lots of tricks up their sleeves, making you think what they want you to think. You may feel sorry for them, because you’ve heard their sob stories. Weirdly, Impressionators can’t — or won’t — fully commit to anything. In fact, Impressionators feel caught in the middle of a conflicting life, love, or career interests which creates unnecessary division, psychodrama, and discord.


Do you feel crazy whenever you’re around certain people? Chances are, that’s your Impressionator, your Teacher, s/he who requires you to power up your talk skills and be in the driver’s seat of your own life…n-o-w! Does your Impressionator make you feel bad, and by using “broadcast command words,” pull the wool over everyone’s eyes? Yeah, it’s dark in there! Beware of those in-between-the-lines-of-spoken-words commands that compel you to do what you’re told.


Impressionators have magnetic personalities that engage you while draining your energy. What to look out for if you know this negative Instigator inventor communicator:

1. TWISTED THINKING. You never feel like you get a straight answer to a simple question, and even easy topics become complex psychological talk ventures with Mr. Impressionator.

2. IMAGE IS EVERYTHING. Ms. Impressionator is a gal who is an interpersonal politician who invents an image that is designed to sell others a good guy impression.

3. MAKES MESSES. If you trace his steps and actions, Mr. Impressionator makes one mess after another in his personal relationships and in his work.

4. BRINGS DOWN. Ms. Impressionator even has the nerve to complain about how people react unkindly to the very messes she makes in their living and working spaces. She brings good things down and entices you to work harder and harder to try and make her happy.

5. HAMMERS YOU. If you question Mr. Impressionator or assertively stand up to him, you will be hammered down with all sorts of rationalizations and justifications about why he’s right and you’re wrong.

6. CLOSENESS PHOBIC. Ms. Impressionator lives by The Best Little Whorehouse… movie musical lines: “Now you see me, now you don’t!”

7. CONFUSION. Mr. Impressionator ebbs and flows like the tides at the Outer Banks, while you get sunburned and feel confused…and then blame yourself for what went wrong.

8. A BOLD-FACED LIAR. Ms. Impressionator tells such big lies that you might just be tempted to think there’s some truth to them. The biggest lie of all: “There’s nothing I could have done differently, so it’s not my fault!”

9. HYPNOTIZER. Just because someone says something doesn’t make it so! Don’t be hypnotized by reverse psychology, because what Mr. Impressionator criticizes as your weakness, is in fact a pure strength of leadership.

10. LAZY BONES. Ms. Impressionator thinks winning means that you try harder and put more energy into the relationship than she does.

11. A MAGNETIC PERSONALITY. How cute and quaint that Mr. Impressionator sells everyone on his appearance of normalcy and niceness, while making you feel crazy but intrigued.

12. QUICK TO BLAME. Justifying how, “It’s not my fault, because people were doing it to me, so I couldn’t control it!” Fact is, you have a control freak, an anti-change, or rigid-thinking junkie on your hands.

13. IMPLIED MESSAGES. What isn’t said, what’s left out of the conversation, and what’s implied in statements are hypnotic messages meant to wear you down so you’ll agree with his or her viewpoint.

14. TERRIBLE TWOS. When Ms. Impressionator can’t have her way, she will pout and shout about how unfair you’re being, and then she’ll throw a temper tantrum that would put a two-year-old in stitches.

15. WEAR YOU DOWN. Mr. Impressionator doesn’t take no for an answer and will wear you down with logical arguments until you stop standing up for yourself.

16. RUNNING THE TALK MAZE. If you want to be close to her, Ms. Impressionator makes you feel like you have to run through a maze, until your head spins, you feel confused, and you have lost your way.

17. UNHAPPY. Mr. Impressionator is never truly happy, because nothing is ever quite good enough, and you could do his work much better than you are.

In my “real world” clinical studies of communicator types, from a sample study group of 470 “normal and everyday adult people from all walks of life,” 19.8% of all communicators (male and female) you run into just might be Impressionators.


Is your energy being drained? Energy levels need to be about the same in a positive relationship. Mr. or Ms. Impressionator changes the score of the game and the minutes left to play, because she lacks integrity, and he justifies unethical actions in business and romance. Do you like a good challenge? Then try to keep up with Mr. or Ms. Impressionator, who is neither hard working nor fun nor loving over the long haul.


The charming and smiling Impressionator is a negative Cagey Communicator guy or gal. Watch out because you will experience identity theft. You will get caught in the communicator Tar Baby of this calculating communicator who plays with a poker face.

ABOUT DAYTON COMMUNICATIONS PSYCHOLOGIST DENNIS E. O’GRADY, PSY.D.As the innovator of the Talk to Me© effective communication system, Dr. Dennis O’Grady’s approach to good communication produces results that will astonish you just when you thought all hope was lost. Dennis also provides business keynotes, corporate training and relationship communications coaching, in enjoyably interactive “real life” learning training formats.

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