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Everybody has a different communication style, so how can you learn to better communicate with others? The DISC assessment sheds some light.
Navigating Different Communication Styles in the Workplace
While most people understand the importance of communication in any workplace, fewer understand the way that different communication styles can affect how people work together. Everyone communicates in different ways, and understanding a coworker’s communication style can help you work better with them to achieve the best results.
Although there are many different ways to categorize communication styles, one of the most useful ways to evaluate how people communicate in the workplace is DISC. DISC theory was first proposed by psychologist William Moulton Marston in 1928 and has subsequently been developed into the modern DISC assessment which is used in workplaces all around the world today.
The DISC assessment helps people understand their behaviors through four main personality types: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. Each personality type has its own communication style associated with it. While some people may fall purely into one of the four categories, others might find that they are a combination of two, such as SC (Steadiness and Compliance) or DI (Dominance and Influence)
So how does each DISC style communicate? And how can other styles best communicate with them? Here’s a run-down of the communication styles of each DISC type and how to navigate them in the new office.
If you consider yourself to be a go-getter, a big-picture thinker, a competitive risk-taker, or a natural business leader, you might have the Dominance DISC profile. D-type individuals are driven, ambitious, and assertive. They know what they want and they have big plans to achieve it. Preferring to focus on the big picture rather than getting lost in the details, D types are happy to take risks or change the way they work in order to see results.
The Dominance communication style
If you are a D type or work with someone who is, you’ll be familiar with the Dominance communication style. Straightforward, assertive, and direct, D types tend to say what’s on their mind without beating around the bush. Their focus on the big picture may lead to impatience when others try to bore them with the finer details; they’d rather get to the point quickly instead of circling around it.
Moreover, people with the Dominance style usually don’t mind contradicting others and speaking their minds. This can be great when they’re surrounded by other D types, but sometimes this can make it hard for more reserved individuals to speak up and share their opinions. A Dominance type communicating with a group of Steadiness types, for example, will often take charge and direct the conversation.
The main way that D types can improve their communication skills is by taking more time to listen to other team members. While some healthy conflict can be very productive in any team, it’s important that people with the D profile do not overly dominate the discussion or dismiss their team members’ perspectives or opinions.
Dominance types should also consider whether their direct style of communication may be considered rude or confrontational by other DISC types. Although D styles can often feel impatient when their coworkers are focusing too much on details that they see as irrelevant to the big picture, they should be careful not to interrupt or show impatience, instead gently guiding the focus of the group back to the task at hand.
Tips for communicating with D types
When communicating with a D-type individual, it’s important to get quickly to the point without irrelevant chit-chat or unnecessary details. Dominance personalities appreciate directness so try to start with the key points of the discussion – details can be filled in later. Because Dominance types can be goal-focused big-picture thinkers, it also helps to relate things back to the big picture when speaking to them.
Do you love making friends and motivating your team with your ceaseless energy and enthusiasm? You might have the Influence personality type. I types are sociable and people-oriented, bringing their optimism and persuasion skills to every team meeting or negotiation. Preferring to work closely with others, I types often find myself unstimulated when working alone or having to focus on detailed tasks that bore them. They’d usually rather get stuck into a project with their team members instead of working independently.
The Influence of communication style
People-oriented and friendly, the Influence communication style is all about making people feel good. I types love to entertain and motivate people with their animated style of communication. They often enjoy chit-chat and don’t mind going off-topic. They also prefer to avoid conflict wherever possible, preferring to use their persuasion and skill tests to achieve results instead of contradicting others.
People with the Influence behavioral type love communicating with others, but there are a few ways they can communicate more effectively. They may need to work on their tendency to overgeneralize or be overly optimistic, remembering to communicate the key facts, figures, and details to keep the conversation on track. To improve their communication skills, they may need to work on their ability to address problems in a productive way instead of shying away from conflict for fear that it will make them unpopular.
Tips for communicating with I types
Because I types are naturally sociable and people-oriented individuals, they enjoy a bit of chit-chat and humor. They crave approval and friendship, so communicating with them in a warm and personable manner is preferred and praise always goes down well.
However, they may also need some encouragement to focus on the details of a situation instead of making generalizations – when communicating with an I type you may need to guide the conversation towards facts and details. Bringing the conversation back to people, case studies, and testimonials is always helpful to better engage these people-oriented individuals.
Are you easygoing, agreeable, and dependable? You might have the Steadiness personality profile. S types love working in a familiar environment that is harmonious and comfortable. They work well in teams and are great at supporting and listening to their team members. Steadiness types tend to dislike change or working environments that are too fast-paced and prefer not to go against the consensus in their team.
The Steadiness communication style
Steadiness types often have great listening skills, sometimes preferring to listen to the opinions of others than voice their own. They can be cautious about opening up, and appearing more reserved or private until they get to know their coworkers well.
Their communication style is less direct than Dominance types because they prefer to go along with the consensus. This means that they can be great team members who support their colleagues, but it can also be a problem if they don’t feel comfortable speaking up with their real opinions. Unless space is made for Steadiness types to feel comfortable speaking up, their valuable insights or ideas might never be voiced.
Tips for communicating with S types
When communicating with a Steadiness type, remember that these individuals are great listeners who love to go with the flow. This means that sometimes they might not voice their true thoughts or opinions unless they feel very safe. Therefore, it’s important to give S types the opportunity to speak up, making them feel comfortable sharing different ideas that can benefit the whole team. Perhaps they feel uncomfortable speaking up in front of the whole team, so giving them opportunities to communicate 1-to-1 or in a smaller group can be useful.
It can also help to give S-types time to prepare for meetings or 1-to-1s. Steadiness types are typically slower paced so giving them an opportunity to prepare helps ensure that they are able to get all their thoughts across.
Do you have an eye for detail, preferring to work methodically through problems and do extensive research to find the perfect solution? These are characteristics of the Compliance type, a personality defined by its analytical and independent nature. Preferring to focus on tasks alone rather than work in a team, C types prefer to do a lot of research and evaluation before making decisions and like to work accurately, sometimes even with a streak of perfectionism.
The Compliance communication style
Compliance types, like Steadiness types, are often more reserved than some of their other coworkers. Preferring to research and evaluate to ensure accuracy in all they do, they might not always be forthcoming with opinions or decisions. When communicating with others, they like to ask a lot of questions and get a lot of details out of the conversation. Sometimes they can be quite direct as a result of wanting to leave no stone unturned.
Because of their analytical nature, Compliance types can sometimes be very critical of their own work and others. This may sometimes make people feel sensitive when communicating with C types. To improve their communication skills, Compliance types should try to be less critical and recognize that not everyone is as perfectionistic as they are. The aphorism ‘don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good’ is one that Compliance types may benefit from.
Tips for communicating with C types
C types want to know everything, so be prepared to share facts, figures, data, and context with them in your communication. Expect them to ask questions in order to find out more, but be aware that they might struggle to make decisions immediately. Sometimes Compliance types benefit from different forms of communication such as an email or instant message rather than face-to-face communication because this gives them time to carefully think through and plan out their answers.
Everybody is different and it’s likely that your team won’t fit perfectly into these four categories. However, armed with an understanding of the DISC types and their common communication styles, you can be better prepared to communicate effectively with others.
It’s important to note that each communication style described here has its unique benefits and limitations – no one style is better than the others. By understanding your own personality type and communication style it’s possible to grow as a person and unlock your potential in your career.
Are you interested in incorporating the DISC assessment in your team or workplace? DISC Group offers a range of different assessments, reports, and training options using the DISC Flow® model. Choose the DISC assessment or workshop that is suited to your organization and watch your team’s communication flourish.