Would you describe yourself as fast-paced or moderately-paced? Are you more focused on people or on the task at hand? These dimensions form the basis of the popular DiSC® workstyle assessment. Based on the work of William Moulton Marston, the DiSC worksyle profiles have been used by more than 50 million people in 50 countries. DiSC ® is a simple, yet insightful tool based on four behavioral tendencies: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness. In working individually with my coaching clients as well as conducting team-building training, I use this valuable tool to help my clients better understand themselves and improve their communication with others. Read the following descriptions to see what style or combination of styles rings true for you: Dominance: D’s bring urgency to projects. Their motto could be “Do it now.” D’s like to be in control, take lots of action and get results. They love challenges and are very self-assured. On the flip side, their drive to succeed can be viewed by others as aggressive and intimidating. Influence: i’s bring enthusiasm to the party… and they love parties! They are good communicators, persuasive and people-oriented. Their motto could be “Do it with flair.” i’s enjoy energizing and entertaining others. On the flip side, they may get caught up in their engaging stories and have difficulty with focus and follow-through. Steadiness: S’s bring steady progress to projects. They are often the workhorses of a team. Like the i’s, they, too, are focused on people and tend to be the heart of an organization or team. They are loyal, great listeners and consistent. Their motto might be “Do it with care.” On the opposite side of this style, S’s can be seen as indecisive and resistant to change. Conscientiousness: C’s bring high standards to a project. (They are reading this article and asking if the small “i” in DiSC is on purpose. Yes, it is.) C’s are focused on accuracy and precision. They like planning ahead and are methodical. Their motto could be “Do it right.” They have a more formal style and prefer not to share too much personal information. Others styles might find them aloof or detached. They can also be seen as perfectionists. So, now that you’ve identified where you land, think about the people with whom you interact – your co-workers, your volunteer board, your spouse. What are their styles? Opposite styles provide the opportunity for communication clashes. Two of my early coaching clients had very different DiSC profiles. Jennifer was a combination of High D and High i. She was ambitious and fast-paced. Much of our coaching revolved around getting her to pause before she fired off a hotly worded e-mail retort. I didn’t want to squash her natural exuberance, but I could see where her propensity for quick, often emotionally-based action was going to limit her career down the road. She learned to slow down her reactions and take the time to cool off (or call me to vent.) On the other side of the DiSC spectrum was my client, Allison. She was a strong S and C, a classic perfectionist. My coaching conversation with Allison centered on gently shifting her outside of her comfort zone and encouraging her to take small risks. Allison worked on speaking up more often and on taking charge of her career path (as opposed to the typical “S” mode of waiting around for someone to recognize her good work.) Both women learned to moderate their styles and adapt, a key strength needed in today’s ever-changing environment. Both have since gone on to receive several promotions and are well along a career path within their large company. Here are some tips to better communicate with each of the four styles: Relating to D’s: Try to be brief and to the point. Limit small talk. Show your competence. Stress action and results. Relating to i’s: Open the conversation with interesting small talk. Be friendly and ask about them. Let them express ideas and opinions. Limit facts and details. Give them public recognition for their accomplishments. Relating to S’s: Use reassuring and sincere language. Stress relationship, use “we” language. Recognize them for good performance. Let them know how things will be done. Let them adapt slowly to change. Demonstrate loyalty. Relating to C’s: Be logical. Limit small talk. Do not touch, no hugging. Give lots of facts and details. Stress quality and high standards. Be precise and focused. Use these tips to build trust and improve communication at work and at home. No one style is better than another; they all contribute to a team, to a project or to a family. Learn to recognize and value the contributions of the four different styles. By taking the time to notice how others respond and by making slight modifications, your relationships can be smoother, misinterpretations can be decreased and you can become a more masterful communicator.
Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.