Your Communication Style

How are you Clicking with the Rest of the Team?


Here’s a scene that happens pretty regularly in my coaching practice.  A CEO calls me and asks me to coach one of his executives who is struggling in his relationships at work.  The executive is a determined, results-oriented and aggressive individual with a history of successful results.  Unfortunately, his direct and sometimes demanding style doesn’t sit well with many in the office who resent his meddlesome, micromanaging techniques. Morale is plummeting.

Sound familiar?

We all have a preferred style of communicating.  There is a certain way we like to send and receive our communications. Our style makes perfect sense to us and people who are like us.  However, people with different behavioral styles have different communication preferences.  Your ability to understand your own style and the styles of those around you will foster more constructive and creative interactions, better equip you to handle conflict and solve problems, and generally improve relationships in the workplace.

When I accept a coaching client like the executive described above, my first step is to administer a behavioral assessment.  The most common instruments are the DiSC and Myers-Briggs.  I highly recommend that organizations utilize these tools to improve working relationships and help all individuals better understand themselves and others.

I work primarily with the DiSC, which is a quadrant based model in which the characteristics of behavior are grouped into four major behavior styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.  Everyone possesses all four of these characteristics, but what differs is the extent to which we possess each one.  See if you can recognize yourself and/or colleagues at work in these four styles:

Dominance – “D” styles like the executive described at the beginning of this blog are high in intensity, task oriented, active in solving problems.  Many leaders are high in “D” characteristics. They tend to be driven, forceful, strong-willed, extroverts and prone to risk-taking.  18{1f3faf35ad902e1c8bc667ed071e030e0a3181199c51cdaf886ca87c43016336} of the population have “D” as their leading style.

Influencers – “I” styles are usually talkative, magnetic and enthusiastic. They can be persuasive (think good sales people) and expressive.  They tend to people people-oriented. 29{1f3faf35ad902e1c8bc667ed071e030e0a3181199c51cdaf886ca87c43016336} of the population have “I” as their leading style.

Steadiness – “S” people like a steady pace.  They aren’t into sudden change.  They are collaborators.  They tend to be reliable, loyal, modest and introverted. 45{1f3faf35ad902e1c8bc667ed071e030e0a3181199c51cdaf886ca87c43016336} of the population have “S” as their leading style.  The conflict between the “D’s” and the “S’s” is the most common in the workplace.  D’s are direct, task oriented and results-oriented.  “S’s” prefer indirect, slower-paced, more predictable approaches.

Compliance – “C’s” like to play by the rules (think CFO’s and HR executives).  They like structure, are careful, systematic, diplomatic and accurate.  Those with low “C” scores like to bend the rules, are stubborn and unconcerned with details.  I used to witness some classic confrontations between my director of finance and the sales manager. The accountant (“C”) wanted all things by the books.  The sales manager (“I”) never met a rule he didn’t want to break.  Let’s just say those two did not get along very well.

Often times when coaching people like the executive described above, I will help them design some experiments in which they can test different techniques with people who possess different behavioral styles.  Once the client starts to realize success, he can begin the process of consciously changing his approach and improving his working relations.

In my next post, I’ll offer some thoughts on keys to better relationships with people who possess different behavioral styles.