“Don’t Just Match The Style – Motivate the Style”

The main purpose for using Extended DISC® assessments is to develop awareness and clear understanding of HOW to modify one’s behavior.

Instead of repeating the same routine behaviors (i.e. how we communicate, motivate, influence others) with “hit-or-miss” results, we should aim to make conscious decisions about how to adjust our actions.  We do this by learning and incorporating the practical 4-step approach until it becomes second nature:

1.         Understand the DISC-model and styles

2.         Create confident self-awareness

3.         Learn how to identify others’ styles

4.         Modify our behavior

In understanding the DISC-styles, we gain awareness of how people are different – not better or worse – from one another.  Familiarity with how people are “wired” differently gives a clearer understanding in their behavior and intentions and decreases misguided judgments.

Our own Extended DISC® assessment provides the information to build a more confident self-awareness.

By “confident” I refer to taking an honest look at ourselves and making peace with our strengths and developmental areas.  Rather than focusing on our role-behavioral style (i.e. how we think we need to be), Extended DIS® describes our natural, “hard-wired” behavioral style that remains quite stable during our adulthood.   It is intended to provide information that causes us to stop and think: “Is this really true about me?  Is it possible others could perceive me this way?”  These moments are our very best opportunities for development and growth.

Next, we need to learn to identify the styles of others.  Over time and with practice this becomes easier and easier.  In fact, soon it will be hard not to try identify others’ styles by using the OAR-model:

O – Observe

A – Assess

R – Recognize

The last step is the most important one.  This is when we make conscious decisions about how to modify our behavior and put the first three steps into action.  Rather than let our autopilot take over our behavior, we need to take the controls and steer towards more successful interactions with others.

When we make these behavioral adjustments, we often are instructed to mirror the other person’s behavioral style.

For example, if I happen to be an outgoing I-style and have identified the other person’s style as a calm and laid-back S-style, I should “act like an S-style”. I should talk less, slow down, and tone down my approach.  In other words, by behaving more like an S-style we will make the other person more comfortable.  This will facilitate a more effective communication and interaction.

This is not bad advice.  By modifying our behavioral style to match the other person’s style will improve communication and make the other person more confortable.

However, this advice sometimes overlooks one very important issue:  the actual goal of the interaction.  Yes, the other person may find the interaction well suited for her style since she does not have to expend energy to modify her behavior.  However, you may be unsuccessful in motiving her to take the actions you are seeking.  You are simply having a nice conversation without moving forward.

While we are modifying our behavior to communicate effectively, we are also motivating the other person’s style resulting in more success.  This simply requires us to keep in mind two things about each DISC-style: what motivates and de-motivates other person’s style.

For example, if you are a more reserved C-style, you can make an extroverted I-style a lot more comfortable by being more expressive, chatty and focusing on fun and positive.  However, if you also remember that an I-style is motivated by recognition and visibility, and demotivated by loss of influence, routine and formality, you can make minor yet very important adjustments in your behavior to achieve your goals.  You will be able modify not only how you communicate but also what you communicate.

How about the other DISC-styles?  What should I keep in mind?

The D-styles are motivated by achievement, control, power and getting results from their own actions.  Not surprisingly, they get demotivated with loss of control, inefficiency and slowness.

The S-styles get their motivation from sincere appreciation and acceptance by others.  They do want to be pressured and – while they can hide it well – can get quite annoyed by others’ impatience.

The C-styles get their motivation by being right and focusing on the “correct”, factual issues.  They do not enjoy chitchat or focusing on non-essentials.  Also, they do not want to be surprised or like unpredictable situations.

“How about all of those blended DISC-styles, Markku?” you may be asking.  Great question.

First, whenever possible, keep it simple and focus on the main style of the person.  Second, keep this is in mind:  often, it is more important to focus on what is the person’s least comfortable DISC-style and to avoid those behaviors with your modifications.

In other words, if you have trouble identifying someone’s style because they exhibit so many behaviors, recognize the style the person does not show and adjust accordingly.  For instance, while you may not be sure what style the person is, you may fairly easily identify that the person is not an I-style.  Then simply avoid the “hows” and ‘’whats” of I-style.

Markku Kauppinen is the President and CEO of Extended DISC N.A., Inc.  He helps executives to make better decisions about their employees, teams and organization.

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