Even if you’re not a fan of the Mythbusters, you’ve probably heard of them. Unless you’re anti-Discovery Channel, you’ve likely seen these guys attempt to prove (or disprove) urban legends and modern-day tall tales.

Although the team has grown since the show’s humble beginnings in 2003, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are the primary Mythbusters.

And while I’ve always known they were kind of a mismatched pair, it wasn’t until recently that I noticed just how significantly different their behavior and communication styles are.

First there’s Adam: extroverted and fast-acting, he jumps right in to every experiment. He’s very expressive, uses a lot of hand gestures when he’s talking, and employs loud, silly voices.

And then we have Jamie: analytical and methodical, Jamie likes to make a plan before taking any action. While researching the show’s history, I found a quote from Jamie: “You have to remember that I’m a guy who is happiest in a dark room just thinking. I’m not a sociable person. I don’t like to talk.”

Usually when people with such significantly different styles work together, there’s a problem or two.

At the very least, frustrations.

And sure enough, the Mythbusters are no exception.

Excited Adam vs ‘Excited Jamie’

You might remember the “Penny Drop” episode from season one. Their goal was to determine if a penny dropped from the top of the Empire State Building could gain enough velocity to actually kill someone.

So Adam builds a mini wind tunnel to demonstrate the complex equations that reveal the velocity of a penny falling from a great distance. He’s pretty enthusiastic about his results. His expressive nature makes it obvious.

Jamie is pleased, too, but because of his low-key communication style, it’s tough to tell.

Adam is incredulous about – and disappointed by – Jamie’s understated response. In frustration, he cries “This is excited Jamie?!”

You can view their unbalanced interaction on the clip below – at 4 minutes and 45 seconds in.


While it’s fun to watch this kind of conflict on television, it’s not quite as enjoyable when it happens in person.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re dealing with someone who has a style that is significantly different than yours:

They interpret progress differently.

In the video above, Adam, the optimist, feels that he’s already hit a winner. Jamie, the skeptic, knows that they’re just a single step down a long path.

Frustrated, Adam grumbles to the cameraman about Jamie’s lack of exuberance. Immediately followed by a clip of Jamie’s logic-based explanation about why there was really no reason for jumping up and down with joy over a lab success when there’s clearly many more steps to go in the process of disproving this myth.

They problem-solve differently.

Adam goes all-in, building a mini wind tunnel without expressing his plan to anyone else. He thinks it, he builds it. High urgency, low analysis. Adam is all about the experience that’s created.

But Jamie. He’s a bit more cautious in his approach. In the clip above he explains, “I’ve decided to use the staple gun first, because when we’re experimenting with things here in the shop I don’t like to go through a whole elaborate process and days of machining something only to find it was the wrong approach.” He’s relatively risk-averse, and wants to know that his time and effort are not going to be wasted.

So although their approaches vary, they both create valuable results.

They express themselves differently.

Adam uses big hand gestures and expresses a lot of enthusiasm for whatever he’s doing. He speaks quickly, loudly, and often in goofy voices. He likes to go fast. Perhaps that explains the Segway?

But Jamie is a bit understated. Even when he blasts a penny toward the ceiling, destroying the florescent lights above, the only reaction we get out of him is a smile, and a “whoops.” Followed by a calmly delivered warning, “We should probably get out of here, that’s mercury vapor.”

They celebrate success differently.

Even when they blow stuff up – which they regularly do – there’s a marked difference in their observable behaviors.

In Season 5’s “End With a Bang” episode, they attempted to cut through an SUV with Thermite, a mixture of iron oxide and finely powdered aluminum that burns at temperatures higher than molten lava.

While observing the lava-like burn and destruction, Adam laughs loudly and evilly, while Jamie stands somewhat still, watching the destruction with a gleam in his eye. “That’s what I’m talking about,” he states, with minimal voice inflection.

Just because their observable actions are different, doesn’t mean that they aren’t on the same page, both of them celebrating gleefully.

The Danger Zone

If we’re not aware of them, these differing communication styles can be problematic. It’s common for a physically expressive person (like Adam) to perceive a more subdued personality (like Jamie’s) to be unconcerned, uninterested, or even inflexible. Misperceptions like those can lead to conflict – maybe not immediately, but eventually.

The important thing to remember is that neither style is bad – they’re just different. Keep that in mind during your interaction and there’s a good chance you can avoid conflicting with the other person.

And even though Adam and Jamie might disagree with me on this, I’ll say it anyway: when it comes to interpersonal communication, it’s not always good to end with a bang.