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DiSC Training in Denver. 4 steps to Integrate DiSC Personality Styles to Increase Understanding at Work: Part Two

In order to get the most out of the following information, please read 4 steps to Integrate DiSC Personality Styles to Increase Understanding at Work: Part One

In this blog on DiSC Training in Denver, I will cover step 3 which is:

3. Adapting your communication styles to others

If we take an honest look at the DiSC information, understanding the concept of differences is the easy part of the process. The most challenging part is removing our own lenses (D, I, S or C) in order to see that others communicate differently and that their way is not wrong, it is just different. I want to repeat that because it is key – being fast paced or more methodical serve in different situations. Being logical and sceptical serves at times and being open and accepting serves at times. There is no one inherent perfect team mate or leadership style. Some styles have a harder time accepting that than others!

So, once you have a pretty good guess about your own style and another guess about your colleague’s style, the work begins. How do we adapt? How do we adapt when there are deadlines and the everyday stress at work? In our DiSC workshops we spend a lot of time on this part of the equation because it is practicing this skill of adapting that makes us extraordinary team players and leaders. Normally what happens is I pair people up who have different styles, have them talk about their communication preferences, and then give them an activity to do where I ask them to focus on adapting their communication to each other. The somewhat predictable outcome is that they focus on completing the task and they forget to adapt.

You see, there are three parts to any task – if you can picture an equilateral triangle, each point of the triangle represents an equally important dimension. The three dimensions are Product (task), Process (how we get the task done) and People (the communication and emotional intelligence needed to get the job done). What I have noticed over the years is that most people, when given a task with a time limit, will focus most of their attention on the Product, less on the Process and even less on the People. This does vary somewhat based on personality style, but generally when I ask people to focus their attention on adapting their communication (People) they have a difficult time.

What we know in the field of organizational development and leadership development is that the most effective leaders are constant growing and adapting and increasing their emotional intelligence. That means developing a great deal of self-awareness and awareness of others and adapting our communication style to meet others where they are.

It is always best to have a conversation with your colleagues (and friend and family) to discover what works for them – how to they like to deal with conflict? How do they like to receive positive and constructive feedback? Do they like to check-in on a personal level before diving into business or do they want to get down to business as soon as possible? Do they need a lot of details or are they big picture people? Do they want to make a different for people or do they like to talk about more tangible results? All of these questions can be answered by understand something about a person’s DiSC style AND there are many individual differences as personality style is only one aspect of who we are. When in doubt, ASK!

At the risk of over generalizing and simplifying, here is a quick-y “cheat sheet” to help you in the process of increasing your awareness and adapting your communication. Take this with a grain of salt and a sense of humor!

How to Work with a D

  • Be direct
  • Give bullet points and the bottom line
  • How will this increase/impact (revenue, retention, the goal)
  • Be on time
  • Don’t waste time
  • Stay on topic
  • Be willing to take calculated risks
  • Remember that they are motivated by winning (and being right)

How to Work with an i

  • Be authentic
  • Listen to and show appreciation for their ideas and creativity
  • Be positive and solution oriented
  • Tell them how this will make a difference for people
  • Be willing to brainstorm and talk things out
  • Remember that they are motivated by positive energy and fun
  • Show enthusiasm (only if it is genuine)
  • Give them the big picture and freedom to create, don’t micromanage

How to Work with an S

  • Ask them about their family or how they are
  • Show them that you care about them personally
  • Be careful not to overburden them as they love to help and have a hard time saying no
  • Show them sincere appreciation
  • Approach conflict with diplomacy and care
  • Remember that they are motivated by harmonious relationships
  • Give them the details and the “why”
  • Give them time to reflect on information – over night if possible

How to Work with a C

  • Be clear about and negotiate realistic deadlines
  • Solicit their ideas – then take the time to listen
  • Give them an agenda before hand so they can prepare
  • Take the emotion out of feedback and conflict
  • Be willing to debate an idea
  • Give them a lot of details
  • Give them time to reflect on new information
  • Remember that they are motivated by quality results (which take time)

Adapting your communication is something that you will need to work on over time. It does come more naturally with practice, and there will always be some things you will have to work on. For example, as a Di my natural inclination is to give less information about directions and instructions in order to allow people the creativity to do things their own way. Why? Because that is what I like! That is looking through the world through my own glasses. I have worked a great deal (and continue to work) on giving clear and thorough instructions when necessary so that I don’t drive the S’s and particularly the C’s crazy because they want to do things “right” and meet expectations. This is probably always something I will have to work on because it is so contrary to my own style.

My suggestion is to print out this cheat sheet and keep it with you to refer to when you are approaching a colleague, especially if there is a tense situation. This will bring to your awareness the fact that your way is your way and there are other equally valuable ways to deal with conflict and communication.

Adapting works best when everyone in the workplace is aware of the DiSC model and practices on a regular basis. That means everyone – the S’s are the most likely to want to adapt and accommodate, but they already do that! Even those of us who think we are right (ahem!) need to practice adapting.

OK, good luck, keep up the good work and keep growing! Best of luck.

We provide extensive DiSC Training in Denver, Colorado and beyond!

Jeannie Gunter, MA, Corporate Trainer in Denver

President and Founder, Transformative Training



Jeannie Gunter, MA

Jeannie Gunter, MA

Founder, Transformative Solutions

303 653-3097

Jeannie works with a wide variety of clients to help them increase their team effectiveness and leadership capacity in their teams. She has worked both nationally and internationally as an organizational consultant, facilitator, speaker and wilderness guide.

With a strong background in group dynamics, over the past 20 years Jeannie has guided hundreds of teams in a wide variety of organizations to successful outcomes in team, personal and professional development.


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