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Understanding DISC Series - Part Four

Wayne Kehl | May 2, 2012


Understanding DISC #4, Communicating with the DISC styles
In previous issues of “Understanding DISC” we have gone into some depth on the subject of the fundamental DISC styles. You can find the past issues here:
In this issue, we will discuss the best ways to communicate with each of the styles.
Here is a brief and simplified recap of the basic DISC styles:
DOMINANT: This can be identified by forceful, confident, competitive behaviour.
INFLUENCING: This can be identified by cheerful, optimistic, trusting, outgoing behaviour.
STEADY: This can be identified by sociable, thoughtful, non-emotional behaviour.
COMPLIANT: This can be identified by organized, tidy, conscientious behaviour.
When communicating with a DOMINANT person you must accept that for them, winning is all- important.
When a dominant person begins to show signs of becoming adamant during a discussion, (as they often will) it is often best to simply allow them to carry on until they have finished making their point. If you try to interrupt them, or cut them short, you will only inflame their dominance and either start an argument or cause them to talk longer in order to reinforce their perspective. In some cases it is even best to concede to their point of view or at least agree that they have made a good point, until such time as you are able to approach the subject from a different tack. In all cases, you should attempt to appeal to their ego and their need for success. Letting them win one argument might allow you the opportunity to win one yourself at a later time. However, vehement or over-zealous disagreement while a dominant person is speaking will usually end in a negative result. Depending on how strongly they are influenced by the other elements of their DISC style, it might even harm or destroy your relationship completely. Although High “D’s” tend to try to control conversations and win every argument, just like other people most of them enjoy helping others to accomplish their goals. Being part of another person’s success is after all a type of winning and that will appeal to their natural ego-driven personas. If you allow them the opportunity to help you and then praise them for it, you might just make a friend for life.
When communicating with a highly INFLUENCING person you should expect them to talk a lot and attempt humour at every opportunity.
People with a strong influential style are highly expressive and they love people. They are perhaps, the easiest style to get along with. However, if you are a highly compliant person, you will soon tire of their lack of attention to detail, and if you are a highly steady person, you might be put off by the speed at which they make decisions. Dominant people will usually have no problem controlling them but highly Influential people are usually fine with that. If you want to appeal to a highly Influential person, laugh at their jokes and give them a pat on the back often. Highly Influential people have a need to be appreciated and they like flashy possessions that bring attention to themselves. Expect them to be the life of the partyand depending upon how much influence the other elements of their DISC style have upon them, you might also expect them to be silly or politically incorrect from time to time. High “I’s” like to have fun so if you join in with their light hearted banter, you can easily become an immediate ally and fast friend.
When communicating with a high STEADY you must remember that they are addicted to security and tend to want a lot of information before making decisions.
High Steady’s want assurance that any decision they make is the right one before they act on it. They are committed to their families and they strive to provide safety and security for them. They prefer not to make a significant decision unless their family or trusted friends are aware of the details and buy into it. They generally want the world to slow down, so do not push them too hard to make a decision or force them to create speedy results. Give them time to go away and think about it before formulating a response. The expression, “slow and steady wins the race” was probably written by a high steady personality. High Steady’s tend to be private people and are not likely to want to tell you about their innermost fears or challenges until they believe the time is right so do not pry and do push them to speak before they are ready. High “S’s” prefer not to show their emotions publicly, so do not expect them to become excited or happy when you tell them something that might be extremely impressive to other people. If they tell you calmly and emotionlessly that they are happy or excited, accept it for what it is but do not expect smiles, laughter or tears. If you want to make a friend of a High “S”, give them their space and allow them to communicate with you at their own pace.
When attempting to communicate with a high COMPLIANT always consider that they are much more detail oriented than the other styles.
High Compliant people like rules and regulations for work and life. However, once they are confident that they are on the right path, they are highly conscientious and will act very quickly to get the job done. Because they like a lot of detail, when you speak to them, bring a lot of well-organized information and some proof that what you are saying is valid. Do not try to get a High “C” to change his mind unless you can prove that you are right. Many great accountants are highly Compliant as are a lot of pilots, engineers, musicians, and mechanics. In each of these cases, a very stringent set of rules and procedures must be employed in order to get the job done. The fact that following those procedures almost guarantees a good result appeals greatly to High “C’s”. In conversations, you can often hold their attention with spreadsheets, statistics and complex explanations. If you want to make a friend of High “C”, be prepared to dazzle them with detail and answer a lot of questions.
This article is based on the work of William Moulton Marston. Find out more in my book, “Getting Along With People Is Easy!” available at or from the Dynamic Leadership website:
All the Best
Wayne Kehl


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