It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it that matters too.

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For the past decade, Elevated has used DISC as a communication assessment tool; internally as well as externally with clients. While it’s not used as a factor to determine whether or not someone should get hired, we use it to understand each team member’s natural, hard-wired behavioral style and what that could mean to the overall communication and impact of the team.

We use it to understand what each person will ADD to the team; not just how they will FIT IN to the team (which in itself is a unique distinction and potentially worth another blog!)

In an oversimplistic description of each communication style, DISC is categorized as follows (and yes, you can be a combination of a few styles):

D-style (Dominance)Direct, decisive, independent and to the point. Results oriented and bottom line focused. Often strong willed, enjoys challenge and immediate results.

I-style (Influence)Optimistic, social and outgoing. Enjoys being on teams, sharing openly, entertaining and motivating others.

S-style (Steadiness) – Team player, cooperative and supportive of others. Prefers being in the background, working in a stable environment. Often good listeners and prefers to avoid conflict and change.

C-style (Correctness)Cautious and concerned. Focused on what is “correct”. Plans ahead and concerned about accuracy.  

I’ll be the first one to admit I was skeptical of the assessment. Having completed a number of other types of tests in the past I’ve often found them either inaccurate or too complicated to be utilized effectively.

As I opened my results, my DISC style indicated I was a CD (C 55% D 45%), reading through the report I was surprised and humbled. For the first time after completing an assessment like this I felt the results were a true representation of me. These 24 questions validated what I view as my strengths and reinforced what I know are my “de-motivators” specifically when it comes to communication attributes. It also included information regarding how others may perceive my communication style (cue the humbling part). There it was in bold black ink:

“She is not a natural conversationalist with strangers; she is not very open, talkative nor inspiring. She typically does not use different tones in her speech nor beat around the bush. It is difficult for her to speak about herself very openly. She tends not to smile without a specific purpose.”

Yikes. A flood of thoughts went through my mind, but if I’m truly honest with myself it’s not THAT inaccurate. I don’t love small talk, I want to have conversations don’t get me wrong but ones with substance, I am not the person to chit chat randomly about the weather and thanks to Zoom meetings I can confirm smiling is something I have to consciously make an effort to do. Humbled.

As I continued to read through my assessment report, it became more and more clear to me that the way I communicate by default is reflected in the way that I like to be communicated with. But the true take away here is not everyone appreciates that style. Where I prefer to know the bottom line verse the whole back story as to what’s happening and why, others really appreciate the details and possibly need them.

When I think about previous situations, I can recall a number of instances where my message just wasn’t landing to another person. No matter how many times I’d say it, it just didn’t feel like I was getting through. Chances are I have been trying to connect with a person whose DISC communication style is very different from mine.

Being aware of how we communicate and how others prefer to be communicated to can mitigate confusion, misunderstandings and even conflict. Adapting the ways, we communicate in different situations can influence the effectiveness and productivity of your communication.

So, what have I changed since receiving my DISC results? In a team that for the majority is completely opposite style of mine, I’m making an effort for small talk. Even when it’s naturally not my style, I’m adding in some exclamation marks to my written communication for a more energetic tone. I also remind myself to actively listen with head nods. It’s not perfect, and it doesn’t have to be but I just need to remember it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.  In short, intent and consciousness in language matter so that the other person hears it too.

Understanding your communication style and how it intertwines with others is truly impactful. If you’re interested in understanding your own profile, reach out to one of us at Elevated. We’d be happy to walk you through an assessment and provide valuable feedback on how you could capitalize on your communication style with other!