The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw
I recently went to lunch with some friends and we were talking about what we watch on YouTube. I got a great lesson in communication. After discussing SNL and The Voice, I mentioned I like to watch videos on UFOs. After the laughter died down a bit I said, “no really I do, I’m not a tinfoil hat wearer yet. But it’s all interesting.”
Everyone has their own interests, quirks, and struggles. This makes being around people fun and challenging. Especially if they are the tinfoil hat wearer type.
Maybe your communication challenge isn’t talking to a UFOlogist (I think I made that word up), but it could be your weird neighbor. Or it could come in the form of a challenging boss or possibly your spouse. If you can’t think of anyone, maybe you’re the one that is difficult to communicate with. No matter who you find difficult to communicate with, discovering your DISC Style and that of others will change the way you communicate.
Use A Disc Assessment To Change How You Communicate
After reviewing DISC reports with many people, I’ve heard some great feedback.
“So that’s why he’s always optimistic.”
“No wonder she cares about the details so much.”
“People always come to me for advice, now I know why!”
“Okay, I get it, I have to be more direct with him.”
There are three key ways understanding your behavioral styles will change the way you communicate.
Key 1: Understand Yourself To Communicate Well
Changing and improving the way you communicate begins with understanding yourself. DISC gives you a clear picture of your behavior or style. It helps you to understand four key pieces of your personality. Which are:
- How you respond to problems.
- How you interact with people.
- How you react to change.
- How you make decisions.
Great communicators know they must have a deep understanding of themselves to truly communicate well. These simple insights will help you to do just that. The next key is understanding others and why they behave the way they do.
Key 2: Learn Other People’s Communication Quirks To Really Connect
Changing and improving the way you communicate requires a deeper understanding of others. This became painfully obvious during a debrief I was doing. I am primarily an influencing style, so I tend to get very excited and talk quickly about DISC. Interestingly, as you’ll see below, not everyone communicates with this quick and direct of style.
So when one of the employees let me know I was speaking too fast and they needed to process the info a little longer, I had a live example of the need to understand others to improve my communication!
Here’s how DISC breaks down people’s “styles” of communication and their behavior.
- Dominance – this is the direct and results-oriented person. They are fast-paced and direct but can get frustrated by indirect or slower paced people.
- Influence – this is the persuasive, story-telling, people-person. They are also energetic and optimistic but details and follow-through are not their strongest trait.
- Steady – this is the safety conscious, collaborating, and accommodating person. They are helpers and great listeners too making them slower and less direct.
- Conscientious – this is the fact-finding, policy making, and procedure following person. They are meticulous and great with details but slower and less direct.
This is where DISC becomes very practical as a tool for better communication because everyone fits into these styles in some way or another.
Where does your best friend fit? How about your boss? Your spouse?
Key 3: Adapt To Others To Become A Communication Rockstar
I don’t know about you, but it blew my mind to realize everyone is primarily one or two of these 4 styles. This helped me to see how my communication was missing the mark. When I bore an Influencer with a bunch of fact-finding details, I’m not communicating with them. But I would be if I communicated this way with a Conscientious style. This is where you can become the Rockstar of communication.
Dr. Tony Alessandra coined a phrase that has helped me understand the value of DISC. “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Dr. Alessandra calls this the Platinum Rule. A bit different from the Golden Rule, but it makes a lot of sense for one-to-one communication and helps drive home the value of adapting to other’s style.
When You Communicate With Others…
- Look to see if the person is direct or indirect in their body language and other communications.
- Observe the speed in which the person presents themselves and communicates. In general, is their communication and pace of decision making/action fast or slow?
- When observing this person do they present themselves in a guarded way or an open/relational way?
- Look to see if they approach projects and work from a more task oriented or people oriented perspective.
When you have the answers to these questions you can quickly decide how to adapt to the person. You can adapt by simply mirroring their style. If they are direct, be direct. If they are slow in their communication and style, reflect this back in your communication. For the guarded or open person and for the task oriented or people oriented person, mirroring works as well. You don’t have to be exactly like them, just adjust slightly toward their style and you will be a Rockstar.