If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll probably have guessed our answer to this question already.
The truth is, no DISC style is better for communication than others. No matter whether you’re a chatty Influence type, an agreeable Steadiness type, an assertive Dominance type, or a measured Compliance type, there’s no single style that is better at communicating than the others.
Each profile has its own strengths and limitations when it comes to communication. In this article, we’ll explore some of the differences between the personalities when it comes to communicating and give tips for how to best communicate with them.
What is DISC?
DISC was first put forward by psychologist William Moulton Marston in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People. Marston’s theory was that people’s relationship to their environment could be categorised into four primary emotional types: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance.
However, Marston did not propose a way to self-assess these personality types. This was first done by Walter Clarke who created the first DISC assessment decades later. This was the origin of the modern DISC assessment, a personality assessment that is now used in workplaces around the world to help people better understand the personalities and behaviours of themselves and their coworkers.
The modern DISC assessment identifies four key styles: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. Individuals may fit mainly into one of these styles or they may exhibit traits and behaviours from multiple. While not every person with a particular profile is exactly the same, understanding the different styles can be useful for improving communication and collaboration between individuals in the workplace.
With that now out of the way, let’s take a look at the communication styles associated with each profile in DISC.
About the Dominance DISC Profile
Ambitious and assertive, people with the D style are go-getters who know what they want and will take decisive action to get it. These driven individuals are good at leading teams and delegating responsibilities to ensure that goals and deadlines are met. Natural-born risk takers, they’re happy to change everything and take risks if they think it will lead to good results.
The Dominance communication style
D types are straightforward in their communication, often speaking plainly and saying what’s on their mind, even if it’s sometimes unpopular with others. They prefer to address the big issues rather than small details that they see as irrelevant. They don’t want to beat around the bush or waste time discussing things that they don’t consider relevant, and might even interrupt if their interlocutor is talking about these things.
As a result, sometimes D styles risk being perceived as impatient or even dismissive by the people they work with. To combat this, Dominance types need to be especially careful to show that they are listening to and considering their colleagues’ contributions.
How to communicate with D types
D types like to stay focused on the bigger picture rather than getting bogged down in the details, so it’s helpful to keep this in mind when communicating with D types. Speaking in an indirect or long-winded manner may frustrate a Dominance style individual, so it’s useful to try to stick to the main key points and fill in the details later.
If people with this behavioural style seem overly blunt or direct when getting to the point, try not to take it personally. They’re probably not trying to be rude, but they can sometimes forget to consider other peoples’ feelings when talking about important topics.
Also keep in mind that Dominance types prefer factual and action-oriented conversations — they’re not very interested in analysing the meanings and motivations behind things and instead want to focus on actions to take.
- Don’t ramble
- Stick to the facts
- Focus on action
- Don’t take it personally
About the Influence DISC Profile
Influence types are energetic, optimistic, and people-oriented. They thrive while working closely with others and are easily bored when they have to work alone. An I style person will often try to befriend everyone on the team and can be great at motivating others with their enthusiastic disposition and persuasion skills.
However, sometimes I types have a tendency to generalise or be overly optimistic, so they work best when paired with other more grounded or detail-oriented personalities. They also sometimes struggle with organisation, getting bored easily and switching between tasks if they don’t feel stimulated.
The Influence communication style
Influence types are all about people, loving to chat and gain approval from others. Animated and enthusiastic communicators, it’s typical to see I style individuals straying away from the topic at hand. While Influence types love chatting and sharing their opinions and stories, they don’t particularly like conflict with others, so they might shy away from addressing interpersonal problems or contradicting others. Nonetheless, they can be extremely persuasive when they choose to be because of their natural people skills.
How to communicate with I types
I types are very open and appreciate friendly and enthusiastic interactions with people who match their energy. When communicating with I types, be prepared to chat for a while and let your personality and sense of humour shine through before getting onto the task at hand. These individuals are often highly collaborative and love working with other people, so treat your conversation as a collaboration. Consider emphasising real-life examples and testimonials to illustrate your points.
Like D types, people with the Influence profile often prefer talking about action and solutions and don’t want to get bogged down in the boring details. You may have to gently guide the conversation to ensure that they acknowledge facts and realities instead of making generalisations. Sometimes it might help to use visual aids such as graphs or written memos for them to refer back to after the meeting.
When communicating with I types, remember that they crave approval and friendship from others in every interaction. Whether you’re providing feedback on their work or suggesting an alternative solution to a problem, keep this in mind.
- Be friendly and enthusiastic
- Help them focus on facts and details
- Use examples and visual aids
- Be considerate of their feelings
About the Steadiness DISC Profile
People with the Steadiness personality type are dependable and agreeable. S style people enjoy working in a harmonious and familiar work environment and can sometimes be resistant to change, doing their best work when they’re comfortable and at ease. They are slower-paced than D types and I types, and while they may sometimes seem reserved or quiet at first they eventually open up and form strong working relationships with their team.
The Steadiness communication style
People with the Steadiness style are great listeners and are very supportive, which makes them great members of a team. However, they can also be overly cautious or evasive in their communication, preferring to conform with the rest of the group rather than express conflicting views.
How to communicate with S types
S types appreciate calm and friendly communication — they may not respond well to direct criticism or contradiction. Because S types are not always assertive or direct with their views, especially if those contradict the opinions of others on the team, it’s important to make them feel safe enough to share their real thoughts. As good listeners themselves, Steadiness style individuals appreciate when you show active listening with open body language and verbal cues to show that you understand them.
Giving S types time to prepare for difficult conversations is useful, as is breaking the ice and chatting casually before jumping into the important stuff. Don’t rush into the conversation and give them time to think things through before sharing their response.
Sometimes, S types appreciate written communication such as an email or instant message because this gives them more time to carefully consider the topic and provide a thoughtful response.
- Go at their pace
- Make them feel safe enough to share opinions
- Listen actively
- Consider using written communication
About the Compliance DISC Profile
People with the Compliance style tend to be highly analytical and methodical workers, looking at problems from many different angles and coming up with detailed plans of action. They can be creative and often work most effectively on their own, taking time to do extensive research before coming to conclusions. In some cases, C style individuals’ focus on getting all the information can lead them to struggle to make quick decisions and they might tend towards perfectionism or ‘paralysis by analysis’.
The Compliance communication style
Compliance types tend to be quieter and more reserved than some of the other personality types, which influences their communication style. They like to have a lot of information so they tend to ask questions and focus on facts, figures, and specifics. C types sometimes struggle to make decisions or take decisive action unless they feel like they know all the information about a situation, which can make them cagey in their communication.
How to communicate with C types
C types appreciate being given lots of information so be ready to share facts and figures when possible and expect them to ask a lot of questions, some of which you may not have considered before. Because compliance personalities struggle to make quick decisions, try to give them time when possible to consider and evaluate, but if immediate action is necessary try to give them as much information as possible.
Similar to D types, try to avoid waffle or irrelevant topics when communicating with C types because they prefer directness. Moreover, like S types, Compliance personalities sometimes prefer using written communication because this gives them an opportunity to analyse the information and research and evaluate before providing a response. Sometimes, C types can be overly perfectionistic about their own work, so when communicating with them keep in mind that they might be sensitive to criticism and it should be framed kindly.
- Be ready to answer questions
- Get to the point
- Give them time to think
- Consider using written communication
No DISC style is better than the others at communicating — each profile has its own strengths and limitations. However, with a greater understanding of our own and others’ personality types, we can learn to communicate more effectively with other people in the workplace and in our personal lives.
Here at DISC Group, we provide a range of general and specialist DISC assessments and reports to help your team gain insights into the various personality types in your workplace.
Use the DISC Flow® CORE Report to better understand an individual’s DISC style, strengths, limitations, behaviours, and characteristics, or try the DISC Flow® GROUP Report to delve deep into a team’s personality dynamics. To enhance leadership skills within your organisation, opt for the DISC Flow® LEADER Report which provides key insights into leadership style and areas for growth. We even offer a DISC Trainer Certification so you can effectively embed DISC in your organisation.
Want to learn more about using DISC to unlock your team’s potential and enhance communication? Contact us today.