Tailor Your Communication Style to Meet the Needs of Others

By Sue Porter “The Accidental Leader

Would it help if you could:

  • Diffuse misunderstandings before they get out of control and turn into conflict?
  • Relate to your audience and clients with greater understanding and grace?
  • Be able to know a person’s needs, and what they value with just a couple of interactions?
  • Give others exactly what they need to keep them motivated and on your team?

You can do all of this, and more, by understanding the DISC behavioral styles method of relating to others.  DISC is a tool that helps you in understanding others according to their individual behavioral style.  You could say it is the language of behavior, needs and differences.  There is no right or wrong style.  We are all a combination of all four styles in varying degrees.

The most profound benefit of this methodology is that can assist you in understanding what others need in their interactions with you.  This can be critically important in business communication.

D – Dominant – direct, controlling

For instance, if you’re dealing with a “High D” dominant, direct style of person you will automatically know that to appropriately relate to him, you’ll need to keep your communication brief and compelling.  Get in, get out, and just give him the facts, just the facts, without any drama or details. Just “do it”, as Nike says.  And, s/he won’t care how, just that it’s done, yesterday that is.  Now, if you hadn’t understood this, you may have taken offense at his abrupt, direct interaction. However, you know just how he’s hardwired, so you ignore his lack of personal charm.

C – Cautious – task oriented

Now, compare this interaction with that of a “High C” where she would prefer you call to set up an appointment rather than dropping by and breaking her creative flow. With the “High C”, you know you need to be fully prepared, with detailed documentation, and in writing.  Although this style of person is also task oriented, they have an innate need for perfection and order, and want to be 100% sure the processes are done accurately, and by the book.

I – Influencer — social

Contrast that with the “High I”, who is on the total opposite spectrum, who lives to “talk” socialize, and have fun.  Knowing this, you arrive prepared with plenty of time to kill, since an “I” is a party waiting to happen, and just needs you, the audience, to show up for the show. With them, nothing is considered private, so you’re prepared to hear about any and all hysterically amusing life events. All performed without any filters but with a splash of drama.  It’ll be enjoyable, but don’t count on getting much done.

S – Steadiness – calm, cool and collected

If you’re looking for some peace and tranquility in the office, it’s just not a complete balanced team without our pleasant, contented “High S’ in your midst.  Being naturally calm, cool and collected, they role with the punches and agree with most anything presented them.  Good at doing the mundane, with little or no motivation driving them competitively, sometimes people mistake this for lethargy. They are some of the nicest people you’ll ever find. They like sincere appreciation, and if you have this “High S” in your midst, they’re exceptionally loyal, so be prepared; they’ll be with you for the long haul!

As you can see, adapting your style to meet the needs of others can be a substantial benefit to you.  So, it’s important you take the time to understand and learn the varying values and motivation of each behavioral style so that you adjust the way you communicate with them.  Do this, and you’re guaranteed to find fulfilling interactions with just about anyone you encounter.


Sue Porter is “The Accidental Leader,” a Business Consultant and Executive Coach, who is certified to teach and use DISC. For more information about Sue or DISC and her tele-series on the DISC Behavioral Styles visit www.AccidentalLeader.com

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  1. I always describe this to fledgling sales people as — talk at the level your prospect or customer can relate to, or ‘dumbing’ it down. In other words, take the teckie talk and jargon and translate it into language the customer understands.

    I’ve dealt with a number of “household name” personalities over the years while selling residential and commercial electronic security systems. The one person who made my hand quiver was the late John Candy. But that was only after I had secured his authorization to proceed. It happened as I was writing up the agreement. I did not believe I actually had sold him and had difficulty printing.

    How do I sell him? I confirmed he had an alarm system in his California residence. (He was to be in Chicago filming for a year.) I also guessed correctly about the company providing his equipment and service. Since I knew every panel that alarm company produced, I related to him by describing our panel in terms of his panel. If you want to do this on your panel, take this step on our panel. And, it worked!