Did I Make Myself Clear? … DISC might help!

Communication Skills CourseAll of us have encountered a business or professional associate, with whom, we just could not effectively communicate. There could be plausible reasons because you and the other person may possess different emotional styles. This is where the DISC system might be helpful.

DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, which centers on four different personality traits: Dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. His major contribution to psychology came when he generated the DISC characteristics of emotions and behavior of normal people. He published his findings in his 1928 book called Emotions of Normal People. He also produced the first functional lie detector polygraph.

Marston asserts that there are four basic personality types according to the DISC personality profile test including Dominant, Influential, Steady and Compliant. Most of us have a dominant personality type, and probably one or two secondary types.

 Identify your DISC Personality Type

Before you can apply this technique to better communicate with different personality types, you must first identify yours. The following descriptions will also help you zero in on your personality profile and the personality types of others, with whom you need to communicate more effectively.

Dominant (D) – The Dominant is extremely goal oriented and their major motivation is to get things done. They’ll take a project and run with it. They would prefer to lead rather than follow, and tend towards leadership and management positions. They tend to have high self-confidence and are risk takers and problem solvers, which enables others to look to them for decisions and direction. They are highly motivated by new challenges, setting and achieving goals, and seeing tangible results. They appreciate receiving verbal recognition from others as well as rewards. They enjoy power and authority to take risks and make decisions. Freedom from routine and mundane tasks is important.

When working with a D, it’s important not to focus too much on the problems or small details. They are big picture thinkers and may perceive you as negative or “Nit Picking”. When speaking with a “D” try to speak confidently and avoid repeating yourself or rambling. If you are offering generalizations, provide sound and supporting evidence or research.

 Influential (I) – Influential people are the social butterflies of the world. They love to communicate, to perform and joke around. They often appear excited, open and friendly with everyone they meet. This personality type is also almost unfailingly positive. Their natural sociability allows them to talk for long periods of time about almost anything. They have an attractive personality and are the life of the party. They are enthusiastic, curious, and expressive.

When dealing with a person who exhibits this communication style, it is suggested that we encourage to actively participate in the conversation and perhaps restrain ourselves a bit. We should also try to stay on point about the subject at hand and not allow the conversation to drift in a different direction. Importantly, do not violate their personal space by getting too close.

Steady (S) – Steady personality types are stable, deliberate and follow a system. These are  people who like routine and dislike distractions. They proceed carefully and like to have all the details before making a decision. They can be quiet. However, they are great listeners when communicating one-on-one with someone. People with this personality type are rarely jealous and tend to keep their emotions on an even keel.  They tend to be patient, well-balanced and happily reconciled with life. They are also the largest percentage of the population and they are typically competent and steady workers who do not like to be involved in conflict. When there is conflict they may be called upon to mediate the problem. They are good listeners and usually have many friends. One of their major motivations is to avoid offending anyone.

A suggestion for this personality type is to try to be more expressive and animated in your discussions without becoming too emotional. In these cases, you can feel more comfortable discussing issue where you don’t have all of the details. It’s OK to explore with the understanding that a final resolution or decision is not immediately forthcoming. This allows the condition that the details can be finalized a bit later.

Compliant (C) – This personality type is precise, logical and prefers perfection and are tough on themselves and like to follow the rules. They love to gather details and organize things. They tend to be deep, thoughtful, analytical, serious and purposeful. Because their communication style includes a need for details, they sometimes hesitate to make decisions if they feel that they don’t have enough facts. They love lists, charts, graphs and figures.  They are often not very expressive in person and prefer to communicate in writing. For this reason, they can come across as cold and distant. However, this is not the case.

They do not like to disagree or to be wrong, so they often keep their feelings to themselves. Be sensitive and aware in your communications.

Understanding your personality type and of those around you will equip you to communicate successfully and get results faster.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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