Different Communication Styles

Different Communication Styles

by Julie Chapman | Jul 18, 2016

“You just don’t get it.” My seventeen year old daughter said as she walked away. Once again, our conversation had become a battle field, leaving both of us dissatisfied and a little wounded. Normally, we get along, but before I took Our Community Listen’s communication skills training class, we would leave an argument, extremely irritated with the other.  I would tell her a long story with facts at the end, while she would glaze over and bark at me. I would be devastated that our relationship was in shambles and she would be pushed beyond her patience level. In the communication class, I discovered that we on the opposite ends of the communication spectrum.

Can you relate? Have you been in a disagreement with someone, a boss, a colleague, a spouse, or a child, and when you walked away from that interaction, you thought, I just don’t know that person. They’ve changed and not for the better. I know that I have. After studying the DISC communication profiles, I finally understood what was going on. 

DISC, a core behavioral tendency profile, differentiates and explains four communication styles. We behave normally in one tendency, though we are composed of differing degrees of the other three tendencies.  When you understand your distinct mixture of behavioral tendencies and are able to discern another’s communication style, “style flexing” into their tendency can help them feel heard. Finding common ground, then, becomes easier. 

Research for the DISC profile began with Dr. Carl Jung in the early 1900s, as he observed abnormal behavior in his work on individuation. Dr. William Moulton Marston added to Jung’s fieldwork as he developed the lie detector polygraph, taking note of people’s normal behavior. The military in WWII used the data to create a three day test that recommended jobs for new recruits. Dr. John Geier of the University of Minnesota compiled a first personal profile and the DISC of today began to take shape. By answering 24 questions, the DISC can determine your unique combination. 

Our Community Listen or OCL’s communication skills training class uses the DISC as a foundation in determining communication styles. Think of it as an indicator of our natural reaction to outside stimuli. Self-awareness opens up understanding of why you do one thing and another person does something different. Neither is right or wrong, only a different perspective that can be understood and accepted. Interpersonal relationships improve when this knowledge is applied.

The four tendencies are D ~ dominant, direct, driven, ‘get things done’ people who like information put in bullet points and desire a fast pace, I ~ influential, loves to be loved, innovator, and creative problem solver, S ~ Steadiness, wants to serve with a higher purpose while being a team player, loyal and dependable, C ~ Conscientious, wants lots of data, ‘anchor of reality’ with high standards, very intuitive. 

Most of us operate out of one core behavioral tendency, but can stretch to other zones as situations arise. In life, we will be faced with opportunities to operate in the white areas, those places where we are wired with little or no presence . Knowing ourselves is not an excuse to get out of a challenging situation. Realizing that it will take extra energy is important for us to do it well. I have zero D. That means making decisions is particularly hard for me. As an adult, making decisions is a must so when I do, I know to get extra sleep, exercise, and perform self-care. It was a relief for me to learn that I am not missing a backbone. This is how I am wired and it is ok. 

Going back to the scenario with my daughter, now, when she comes in with a crisis, I do not give her my normal long story. I say, “you just want facts, right?”. She says, “yes, please.” I give her a boom, boom, boom, bullet list and she runs with it. Sometimes, she forgets to say “thank you” as she hurries to get the task done. What I have noticed though, is that when she is done and the crisis has been averted, she returns, wanting a story. I “style flexed” to her in a critical moment and then, usually, she comes back to mine later.

Understanding the four communication styles is vital to good communication. It allows us to see the other persons for who they truly are and we do not take their behavior personally. Respect and good will grows in relationships where each party feels heard. Imagine Charleston as a community that listens well. Imagine what we can accomplish with these skills. Join us for a class and become alumni messengers who are impacting Charleston daily.

In the Charleston area, a three-day communication class is offered by Our Community Listens, a nonprofit organization that exists to make relationships and communities stronger. It is more than a communication class; it gives the participants a new way of seeing the world, a place where personal relationships can change as skills are implemented.  What is the cost? The only cost to the participants is their time. The rest is funded by the nonprofit. For more information, email Nina Monty at Charleston@OurCommunityListens.org or Friend us on Facebook at Our Community Listens in Charleston and see what people are saying about the impact this class has had on their lives.