Communication is More Important Now Than Ever…Skills You Need to Stay Ahead of the Curve
By Jennifer Myers | 7 min read
Effective communication is the secret to a successful life and a successful business. Communication that is clear, accessible, transparent, authentic and valuable. So, how do you strike the right balance between science and English? The right balance of detail and overview? The right balance of information and fun? It’s not just about the message itself, it’s about HOW you deliver your message. A key component of delivering the right message at the right time through the right channel is understanding that not everybody who receives your communications is just like you. We all see the world through a different and UNIQUE set of lenses. One phrase might mean something to you and something totally different to your colleague. In this article, we’ll dive a bit deeper into the world of human behaviour and how it affects every-day communication.
DID YOU KNOW that a massive 85% of misunderstandings are due to the fact that the people involved have different behavioural styles? Our natural behavioural style is a product of 3 things:
- our genetics – from birth we exhibit distinct patterns of behaviour
- our role models we have observed throughout our lives – those people who have taught us what is valuable and may have even rewarded us for certain behaviours in order to reinforce those behaviours within us
- our environment – our life experiences, especially emotionally-charged ones in our early years, can have a big impact on our behaviour or personality style.
This means that in MOST situations we have a natural or ‘go-to’ response. Sometimes our natural response serves us well, but other times it can become a roadblock to communication. The more we understand WHY we react the way we do, the better we can become at connecting with others and communicating more effectively in all areas of our lives.
Understanding ourselves first is the starting point. And, as strange as it may sound, getting a grip on what we fear when it comes to human interactions is empowering. A small percentage of people fear being taken advantage of or being ‘one-upped’, and so they have a tendency toward being controlling and highly directive. Others fear the loss of social status or loss of approval. This fear can drive them to over-deliver and have trouble saying ‘no’. A very high percentage of the world’s population fears the loss of security. This often causes them to resist change and avoid confrontation. And a few among us actively fear criticism, and this can drive them to the heights of perfectionism and procrastination.
When we understand not only what our own fear is but what the person we’re communicating with fears, we can make adjustments to how we present information so that we don’t unknowingly press their panic button and shut down the conversation. When we adjust how we communicate with the other person’s style front of mind, we begin to turbo-charge our relationships.
Behavioural profiling has been in existence for centuries, with Greek philosopher Empedocles attempting to suss out various styles back in 444 BC using the elements of air, water, earth and fire. Hippocrates picked up the baton and came up with the theory that we’re each affected by four internal fluids he called Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholy. Fast forward to 1921 when Carl Jung identified that someone’s behaviour can be looked at in four distinct categories – thinking, feeling, sensing and intuition. This led to Dr. William Marston identifying the DISC theory in 1928 in his book Emotions of Normal People. He concluded that we can connect our personality or behaviour style to four key concepts: Dominant, Influencing, Steady and Compliant – D, I, S, C.
The four 4 DISC styles are derived from differing combinations of two main factors – a person’s level of being outgoing vs reserved and someone’s task vs people orientation. Those folks who are outgoing and task-oriented we call Dominant. The ones who are outgoing and people-oriented are Influencing. The large percentage of our population that are people-oriented but reserved are Stable, and the relatively small percentage that is task-oriented and reserved are called Compliant.
So how can you know who you’re dealing with? The clues are everywhere – from how someone greets you to how they react to a last-minute change in plans to how they dress. We just need to keep our eyes and ears open in order to pick up on those clues.
Here’s a quick story that illustrates one of the styles – see if you can suss them out!
“A patient walked into the clinic last week who I had never met before – wow! what a character! She waltzed right up to the desk and immediately pressed the bell (nobody was at the desk) to let us know she was there. When I came out, she immediately started talking to me about who she was and what she needed. It was great! I didn’t have to say a word at first! And her outfit – oh my goodness…orange and pink! TOGETHER!! Well, she talked and talked and when I got her all set with an appointment, she gave me a huge smile and was just SOOO happy. I’ll look forward to having her come back! She brightened up the afternoon.”
This ‘new patient’ is definitely an ‘I’ profile – outgoing and people-oriented. I’s tend to be friendly, talkative, charismatic and attention-seeking. On the flip side, they often tend to be a bit impulsive, have trouble completing tasks and struggle with detail. If one of your team members is an ‘I’, they’re probably one of the most-liked people on your team; however, you may find you need to push them to finish a task before they lose interest in it and start something new.
Any great team will be made up of a variety of behavioural styles, as each style can leverage their own unique strength to help the team move forward. It’s YOUR job as the leader to help everyone grow as communicators so that the best overall result can be achieved.
When we know who we’re dealing with, we can become much more effective team leaders and achieve more in the long run. As Certified DISC Behavioural Styles Consultants, myself and my business partner, Craig really enjoy having the opportunity to work with teams on improving their communication by helping them understand each other. If you’d like to know more about the variety of ways we can support your team to become better communicators, get in touch with us for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book your FREE 30-minute Practice Diagnostic with Jennifer and receive our proprietary DISC Quick Reference Card to help you and your team learn to identify the 4 DISC styles.