September 22, 2015

DISC communication skills

DISC communication skills

A manager’s ability to understand people and communicate well is key to organizational effectiveness. Therefore, managers should become students about communicating and interacting with the people on their teams.

The DISC Model is a language that helps us understand the different ways people can behave in various situations. Used extensively throughout the world, the DISC language is based on observable human behavior, and it’s fairly easy to learn.

Using the DISC language you’ll be better able to gain commitment, build effective teams, resolve and prevent conflict. Understanding DISC will also help you gain credibility and influence.

Quick History of the Four Styles

Identifying different styles of behavior goes back at least to the time of Hippocrates, in 400 B.C. After much observation, Hippocrates suggested that four main types of people existed. Six hundred years later, Galen, a Roman philosopher, also spoke of four basic types of behavior.

Jump ahead to the 1920’s, when a psychology professor at Columbia University named William Marston identified four distinct behavioral preferences and outlined what we now refer to as the DISC Model of behavioral temperaments. In the 1950’s a man named Walter Clark developed the Activity Vector Analysis, the first assessment instrument based on Marston’s theory. The DISC Assessments many people use today are based on the work of these men.

DISC is a Neutral Language

It is vitally important to know that the DISC Model and its associated language is inherently neutral, and therefore any judgment of “good” or “bad” behavioral styles are inappropriate. Although it’s safe to say that some behaviors are more effective (or less effective) in certain situations, it’s also important to recognize that people can adapt their behavior situation by situation. Therefore, in DISC language, we value the strengths of each style and understand where limitations may exist.

Why Learn the Four Styles?

The more managers and leaders know and understand the behavioral preferences of the people they lead and manage, the better they can make decisions about how to create optimal conditions for their teams to excel. The more managers and leaders apply this knowledge, the more effective they can become.

The DISC Language Overview

DISC is an acronym, with each letter representing a different spectrum of behavior.

People have a natural preference for how they prefer to:

  • respond to problems and challenges (“D” scale)
  • influence other people (“I” scale)
  • pace their day (“S” scale)
  • respond to rules and procedures (“C” scale)

People scoring high on the “D” scale like to DOMINATE problems. They jump in and try to resolve them right away.   People scoring low on the D scale prefer to take their time when solving problems.

People scoring high on the “I” scale like to INFLUENCE other people to their way of thinking.  People scoring low on the I scale prefer to let people form their own opinions.

People scoring high on the “S” scale like STEADINESS in the pace of their day and not a lot of change or conflict.  People scoring low on the S scale prefer plenty of change and don’t mind conflict.

People scoring high on the “C” scale are CONSCIENTIOUS about rule and procedures and want to follow them. People scoring low in C don’t mind bending or ignoring rules en route to getting results.

Although there is much more to the DISC language, these are the basics. To learn more about DISC, click on the links in the “More Learning” column on the right.

DISC assessments measure behavioral style—a person’s preferred manner of doing things in light of Problems, People, Pace, and Procedures. These behaviors are observable.

The DISC Model does not measure intelligence levels, values, skills, experience, education levels, or training.

Remember: DISC is a neutral language. Some behaviors may be more effective in certain situations, but the ideas of “right and wrong” or “good and bad” do not apply.

 

An overview of High and Low D Scores

 

People scoring strongly in D like challenges and trying to dominate a problem They are often:

Determined and decisive

Vigorous and driving

Egocentric and self-important

Strong-Willed and forceful

Autonomous and independent

Goal-Oriented and ambitious

 

People scoring low in D dislike challenges and usually are slow to resolve new problems, sometimes even preferring that problems resolve themselves. They are often:

Cautious and careful

Low-keyed and agreeable

Undemanding and unchallenging

Hesitant and harmonious

Peaceful and unassuming

 

Common mottos for a strong D:

Do it NOW – Win  –  Get results

 

When communicating with Strong D people:

Stick to business  (no personal chit-chat)

Be brief and to the point  (don’t “dream” with them)

Be prepared and organized   (avoid rambling explanations)

 

Conversely, when communicating with people scoring low in D:

Personal chit-chat is okay, even expected

(too much time pressure can be uncomfortable)

Exploring options is fine, even welcomed

(being too terse or brief feels incomplete)

 

DISC assessments measure behavioral style—a person’s preferred manner of doing things in light of Problems, People, Pace, and Procedures. These behaviors are observable.

The DISC Model does not measure intelligence levels, values, skills, experience, education levels, or training.

Remember: DISC is a neutral language. Some behaviors may be more effective in certain situations, but the ideas of “right and wrong” or “good and bad” do not apply.

 

An overview of High and Low I Scores

 

People scoring strongly in I like to engage and influence people. They are often:

Enthusiastic and effusive

Magnetic and magnanimous

Friendly and forthcoming

Demonstrative and persuasive

Optimistic and trusting

Expressive and engaging

 

People scoring low in I have little or no drive to influence others or sway their opinions. They can be seen as:

Factual and frank

Matter-of-fact

Undemonstrative and unengaged

Pessimistic and stand-offish

Critical and skeptical

 

Common mottos for a strong I:

Enjoy ALL of life – Have fun  –  Get results

When communicating with Strong I people:

Be warm and friendly (avoid terse, short sentences)

Provide details in writing  (avoid too many details in conversation)

Include time to talk about their thoughts & feelings (don’t over-control the conversation or cut it short)

 

Conversely, when communicating with people scoring low in I:

Draw out their opinions slowly

(don’t expect an abundance of enthusiasm)

Allow them to explore both sides of an issues — pros and cons

(don’t be too enthusiastic or overly-optimistic)

 

DISC assessments measure behavioral style—a person’s preferred manner of doing things in light of Problems, People, Pace, and Procedures. These behaviors are observable.

The DISC Model does not measure intelligence levels, values, skills, experience, education levels, or training.

Remember: DISC is a neutral language. Some behaviors may be more effective in certain situations, but the ideas of “right and wrong” or “good and bad” do not apply.

 

An overview of High and Low S Scores

People scoring strongly in S like a steady, even pace. They are often:

Relaxed and resistant-to-change

Passive and patient

Non-demonstrative and detached

Consistent and cooperative

Steady and stable

Reliable and loyal

 

People scoring low in S tend to prefer plenty of activity, variety, and change. They can be seen as:

Impatient and impulsive

Flexible and adaptable

Restless and fidgety

Eager and anxious

Active and alert

 

Common mottos for a strong S:

Peace and Loyalty  –  Commitment to the Cause

When communicating with Strong S people:

Start easy with a personal comment (avoid jumping straight into business)

Speak softly and easily  (avoid demanding overtones)

Allow them time to think about things (don’t expect fast decisions)

Watch body language for disagreement (they probably won’t verbalize anything)

 

Conversely, when communicating with people scoring low in S:

Expect fast answers while bouncing from topic to topic

(don’t be surprised if they’re ready to move on before you)

Be prepared to state you need more time if you feel you need it

(don’t let them rush you into moving too fast)

 

DISC assessments measure behavioral style—a person’s preferred manner of doing things in light of Problems, People, Pace, and Procedures. These behaviors are observable.

The DISC Model does not measure intelligence levels, values, skills, experience, education levels, or training.

Remember: DISC is a neutral language. Some behaviors may be more effective in certain situations, but the ideas of “right and wrong” or “good and bad” do not apply.

 

An overview of High and Low C Scores

People scoring strongly in C like to know and follow rules and procedures. They are often:

Perfectionistic and precise

Careful and cautious

Conventional and tactful

Exacting and accurate

Systematic and stable

Incisive and inflexible

 

People scoring low in C tend to ignore rules set by others. Extremely low C people will even disregard rules set by themselves. People scoring low in C may be seen as:

Unsystematic and uninhibited

Opinionated and obstinate

Self-righteous and stubborn

Arbitrary and aggressive

Careless and inconsiderate

 

Common mottos for a strong C:

Do it RIGHT  –  Rules are made for a reason

 

When communicating with Strong C people:

Be accurate, objective, and realistic (avoid using emotional pleas)

Consider both pros and cons of any issue (avoid focusing only the positives)

Allow them time to think about things (don’t expect fast decisions)

 

When communicating with people scoring low in C:

They may have no qualms about bending rules

(don’t expect a desire for compliance)

Agreed-upon procedures may be “forgotten”

(you may need to remind them of operational standard

 

Valuing the Differences

Many people make the mistake of believing “the world would be a better place if people were more like me.”  Smart people know this is not true, and that highly effective communications can occur when people subscribe to the following:

  1. each of the four styles has strengths, and each also has weaknesses
  2. we get more done and get along better if we value the differences

Good teamwork and good work environments exist when managers capitalize on the strengths of all four types of people. Knowing the DISC language provides managers a way to bring out the best in people and create passion-driven teams.

 

Getting DISC assessments for your team

Leadership Development, Inc. and the Center for Workplace Excellence are licensed and certified providers of DISC assessments (among other useful “personality tests”).

Licensing requirements preclude us from providing direct access to these assessments, but you may receive a complimentary DISC assessment by contacting us and inquiring about how DISC assessments can be used to help you create a passion-driven team.