Build Constructive Relationships

Have you ever had difficulty working with someone?

Everyone else seems to get along with Jane.

For some reason, you and Jane don’t work well together. You have listened to Jane talk in team meetings and there doesn’t seem to be any issues with Jane’s values.

Yet, you two don’t work well together. Why?

Quite often people don’t work well together because they have different behavioural styles. There are four behavioural styles defined when using the DISC assessment. DISC is a behaviour assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston.

This theory was then developed into a behavioural assessment tool by industrial psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke.

The four work styles are:

Dominance: How one responds to problems and challenges

Influence: How one influences people and contacts to your point of view

Steadiness: How one responds to change in terms of pace and consistency

Compliance: How one responds to procedures and constraints set by others When discussing these four behavioral styles, it is important to acknowledge some basic assumptions.

  1. There are no right or wrong styles.
  2. No style is “better” than another.
  3. All styles can be successful leaders and teammates.
  4. Every style has strengths that can be leveraged.
  5. Every style “overextended” has limitations and behaviors that can be frustrating to others.
  6. All styles can adapt to be more effective.

These four styles need further depth to understand them.

D measures how one approaches PROBLEMS. If one is a high D, one is more AGGRESSIVE (jump in and address it immediately) in how one deals with problems and challenges. If one is a low D, one is more REFLECTIVE (think it through, ask questions, make sure everyone agrees).

I measures how one influences PEOPLE to their point of view. If one is a high I, one is more OPTIMISTIC (excited, persuasive, and convincing) in how one influences people. If you is a low I, one is more REALISTIC (factual, skeptical, more of a realist).

S measures how one responds to change and PACE. If one is a high S, one is more PREDICTABLE (thoughtful, methodical, don’t enjoy change) in how one responds to change and pace. If one is a low S, one is more DRIVING (love change, can juggle a lot, multitask, very flexible).

C measures how one responds to rules and PROCEDURES set by others. If one is a high C, one is more COMPLIANT (follow rules, detail-oriented, perfectionist) in how one responds to rules. If one is a low C, one is more PIONEERING (break the rules, ask for forgiveness instead of permission).

How should one adapt to work more effectively with individuals who have different behavioral styles?

When communicating with a person who is a high D, be clear, specific, brief and to the point; stick to business; and be prepared with support material in a well-organized “package”. Factors that will create tension or dissatisfaction are talking about things that are not relevant to the issue, leaving loopholes or cloudy issues, or appearing disorganized.

When communicating with a person who is a high I, provide a warm and friendly environment, don’t deal with a lot of details (put them in writing), and ask “feeling” questions to draw their opinions or comments. Factors that will create tension or dissatisfaction are being curt, cold or tight-lipped, controlling the conversation, or driving on facts and figures, alternatives, or abstractions.

When communicating with a person who is a High S, begin with a personal comment—break the ice, present your case softly and non-threateningly, and ask “how” questions to draw their opinions. Factors that will create tension or dissatisfaction are rushing headlong into business, being domineering or demanding, or forcing them to respond quickly to your objectives.

When communicating with a person who is a High C, prepare your “case” in advance, stick to business, and be accurate and realistic. Factors that will create tension or dissatisfaction are being giddy, casual, informal or loud, pushing too hard or being unrealistic with deadlines, or being disorganized or messy.

Let’s return to our challenges with working together with Jane.

What is your behavioral style? Ask those around you (your family, your co-workers, your boss) what they observe about your behaviour? Which of the four styles do they see as most dominant in you? Once you understand yourself, observe Jane’s behavior. Which one or two behavioral styles best describe how Jane works?

Consider meeting with Jane and discussing behavioral styles together. She is likely just as frustrated with your working relationship as you are. With the knowledge of your own behavioral style and that of other individuals, one is better equipped to adapt to an individual or a team in such a way as to improve teamwork and ultimately achieve better business results.

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