Now that many of us are working in a remote environment, adjusting our communication style to others is especially important. Remote working or virtual working, as many call it, really does amplify a lot of things, especially in regards to communication. Almost everyone I know has experienced an occasion where communication just honestly goes wrong. Either someone can't understand what they're trying to get across or there's almost a constant clash between what we're thinking and what we're saying and what others hear. Sometimes the message doesn't get through. We now often communicate over the phone or via video conference software. Even though we can hear people and see people we still miss those vital nuances that help us with communication.
Okay so this is what we're going to have a quick talk about, and I have something special for you today a new report that we're going to have a look at as well. Today we will look at some of the traits of the DISC styles and the DISC Axis of course. We're also going to have a quick look at how others see our communication styles. We will introduce a character called Sam, and we're going to have a look at Sam's style in this new report. We're also going to have a look at the listening styles and some tips and tricks and even venture out into emails and voice messages and some handy hints.
A quick google search brings up pages of definitions of communication I've chosen a few because they highlight what good communication is and that is being two-way. One-way communication leads to both boredom and non-involvement and misinterpretation. Communication is just as much about the 'how' something is said, as what the content of the message is. All communication carries both content and intent, and if it's not, then it's just instruction, communication is two-way. Think about what's happening right now with Covid-19 we all tend to filter conversations through pre-existing beliefs and attitudes. Some people feel very strongly about this pandemic, so Facebook is full of strong opinions. In no amount of one-way communication, Facebook to them, or facts will likely change that person's opinion. You might change your opinion if you have a two-way conversation with that person, especially if you give them a chance to listen and respect what they're saying. So, communication is a two-way process back and forth, and it's going to be even more effective if we understand the style in which we speak and the style in which another person listens.
The Theory of Human Behaviour
So, the first issue that we should address is can we change our adapted styles. Of course, the answer is yes but only if you want to. Let's look at the theory of human capacity, which is fitting as it's based on the theory
of how personalities affect our behaviours. We can adapt our persona or personality so that we can adapt our skills and we can adapt our behaviours. Our human behaviour is influenced by human personality, and our personality from the behavioural point of view can be divided into different layers.
- Cultural Heritage: The first one is our cultural heritage which is exemplified by the green circle in the very core or the centre of our personality. This includes the aspects we have adopted during our lives like cultural norms, our values, our ethics, and our morals.
- Our unconscious behaviour, shown by the blue circle, explains the way we prefer to respond to any stimulus. Our unconscious behaviour is how we naturally express ourselves and tied to this are our communication preferences.
- Behavioural Filters: The modifier between our unconscious behaviour and our conscious behaviour is behavioural filters, the purple circle shows that. These filters restrict or widen our options, especially when it comes to communicating. They are distinctly individual, and we use these filters to change quite quickly, like learning communication differently. Behavioural filters hold things like skills, knowledge, experience, expectations, and all these aspects can change.
- Conscious Behaviour: Finally, these all affect our conscious behaviour, shown as the red circle. These are our learned behaviours and what others see or what we'd like them to see. We can learn to change our responses when we want to, especially when it comes to our communication skills, through our conscious behaviour.
DISC Styles and Communication
- D Styles: Communication will be short, to the point, directional, results-oriented, and sometimes you might be a little bit less tolerant, which can come across quite confident in the way that you communicate.
- I Styles: Communication is likely to be quite interactive, you might repeat things, talk in long sentences, be comfortable with lighter subjects, especially about people, and very likely quite articulate.
- S Styles: Likely to listen before you speak up, you observe first and speak up second. You're probably less likely to voice your opinion loudly unless others stand on your principles. You prefer to share with people that you know and tend to be more comfortable sharing opinions when you are around a familiar team.
- C Styles: You are more likely to want to deal with facts, evidence, and detail. You are probably less about small talk and more about in-depth conversation and the task at hand.
Remember though that no style is better or worse just that we're all slightly different. We can adapt the way we communicate if we wish to improve the effectiveness of our communication, and that's an excellent thing to remember if we want to improve it.
Challenges with the Communication of the DISC Styles
Particular styles are more likely to miscommunicate and have greater difficulty in specific areas, in comparison to other styles. These are some of the frustrations and annoyances that can irritate a DISC style.
D styles may become frustrated when communication is too detailed. They believe it takes too long or that it can be far too emotive with a lack of focus on results or goals. The opposite of a 'D' is the S Style, so it's often the communication of the S style that might frustrate them. As S styles need time to process, they slow down the communication, which can cause the D style to become quite frustrated.
As you can guess, the styles opposite to us tend to be the ones that we have to work harder with. Let's look at the S style the opposite of D. Remember that S styles are steady. They do take their time when communicating and are more careful. They feel their way into a conversation, and they tend not to like upsetting people, so they pay special attention to be cautious about how they say things. They focus on intent less than the content. S styles often look at the D styles as being too direct, rude, and pushy.
The I styles tend to dislike silence as well. We all know that they can be too open with too much information and reveal too much about themselves. They can get off track more quickly and seem to and easily enjoy energy in the communication. The style opposite to the 'I' is the C types, which they find way too detailed, at times just a little bit clinical, and at times not stimulating enough with stories. Of course the C style right back at you, they deal in facts and evidence, and they listen before butting in and include lots of details. When they do talk, they take longer to communicate generally. Their opposites are the I styles whom they think can ramble on, be relatively unstructured and have too much small talk and chit chat needlessly before they get stuck into the main conversation.
Extended DISC Remote Worker Self-Study Workbook
There's never been a time like right now for significant miscommunication with COVID and all these lockdowns going on. Many of us are working remotely from our homes at the moment, around the world and across Australasia. These types of miscommunications are very real at the moment. In response to this, Extended DISC Internation has created the new Extended DISC 'Remote Worker' My Self Study workbook. This workbook highlights communication, and it is designed for people working remotely. The purpose is to help them understand and then create a work environment and processes that best support their strongest behavioural traits. It's not only about succeeding in a remote work environment, but it's also actually about enjoying it. The more you can adjust your routines, your communication, and your way of working to match your natural behavioural style, the more comfortable you will feel working remotely.
With COVID you would have already been aware working remotely is quite different from working in a traditional work environment. We have both physical and often psychological distance to the rest of the organisation, and now that plays a real part in our behaviours. Communications with others are different. The new requirements to schedule, organise and manage the workday differ as well. Collaboration is also very different. The Remote Worker Self-Study Workbook is not about one behavioural style being better or worse. It's all about the styles and their various challenges and strengths in this remote working situation as well.
The Remote Worker Assessment looks at several independent sections. You can focus on them in any order that you prefer. If you wanted to go in order, firstly we look at the five key work factors that help you become successful in a remote work situation. You may not be able to control all these factors fully, but all of them contain aspects that depend on how you organise your particular workday. The assessment is all about wanting to help you design a way of working that best suits you.
Those five key factors work factors are:
The second part of the workbook focuses on three critical mental factors that you'll need to have to work effectively in a remote work environment. They all depend on you. They provide you with some tips and some aspects that can support developing these key mental factors of, attitude, trustworthiness and adaptability.
The final part of the workbook focuses on communicating remotely. Working remotely doesn't mean working without contact or interaction with other people. The report covers three contact factors, which are:
- Communication - how to communicate with you
- Communication - how to communicate with your team
- Communication - how to communicate with others in general
Understanding your Communication Preferences
To cover some of the points I want to make about adapting our communication style, especially in this remote working arrangement, I'm going to use an imaginary employee called Sam as an example. Sam happens to be a high I style, an Influencer. His DISC assessment gives him some great advice about working remotely. There are unique hints on well-being and communication tips of how he likes to receive information and how he might be more effective in communicating with others. Sam's report is full of excellent advice, but we're going to start with having a look at how others might see Sam.
So this person has been described as being pleasant, people-oriented but purposeful. He's a bit of a conversationalist. He's able to encourage and inspire people, and he can take the team's interest into account and guide his team towards the goal. However, the report also points out that Sam is not as receptive a listener as he seems so that's important because later on in Sam's workbook it outlines a lot more about this and talks about how he could be a better listener.
Sam will have to consider how he's going to implement some of these points. Sam is a naturally a high I personality type. He's a communicator! Things like lots of detail, that a C style would gravitate toward, is not going to come naturally to him. It's not going to be a natural skill to talk in a lot of detail for a long time. So Sam needs to start thinking about how he might adapt his communication style to all the different DISC styles.
Adapting Your Communication Style
The report provides some pages that give Sam specific tips to adapt his communication, his listening styles, and other aspects of communication to different DISC styles. For example, the report says: 'Sam, be aware that your attention can quickly switch off if people talk too much and in too much detail if they don't involve you with questions, ask for your input, and listen to your responses.' So the more he knows about himself, the more effective his communication will become.
Let's look at how Sam may perceive the communication styles of the other DISC profiles. Sam may find D style communicators quite rude. He likes their directness but not when it's aimed his way and may also find their communication to 'one way'. When communicating with a D, Sam needs to learn to be a bit more specific, cut down on repeating himself, try to know what he wants to say before feeling his way through a conversation, keep his sentences shorter. Both should try to have an ad hoc agenda and keep the conversation in that agenda, so they don't drift off. You can imagine how helpful these tips are when you're sitting and thinking to yourself I've got a zoom meeting coming up with x person and they're likely to be a C style. To sit and understand how I might feel about that conversation is very reflective as well as thinking of some handy tips and tricks on how I could be more effective with those people.
Let's look at another example. When communicating with the C type it's going to be a challenge! Sam may get the feeling that they don't really want to be communicating or at least not with him. They are often straight to the point as they focus on the content rather than the intent, which sometimes feels a bit rude and can come across as inflexible to opinions. Sam's going to need some extra attention to stay focused as they work through the detail. He's going to have to prepare himself. I know myself and being exposed to this sort of knowledge concerning others and my communication style, it's helped me personally to be effective with my coaching style. At times this sort of information can feel a bit direct or even a bit cutting in regards to how others might see or think about the communication, it's so valuable to take it on board and try to implement it. So Sam can now understand some of the issues when he's dealing with different DISC types.
Developing your Listening Skills
We all know about communication and that it is as much about listening as it is about delivering. The Remote Worker Assessment also has pages of wonderful highlights that help us understand how Sam listens. The list you can see on-screen focuses on some of the most topical aspects of how Sam usually listens. Don't forget that listening is a skill and it can be developed. As a note, these lists don't contain the listening skills that you may have acquired over time but more focuses on the situations that are likely to be most natural for your style. The more the score is to the right the, the more natural it is for you and the more to the left is less natural. The competencies that are coloured red indicate the behaviour is a lot less natural for Sam. So you have your most natural behaviours at the top shown in green, and the ones that are least natural to you and may need a fair bit of energy are red and toward the bottom of the list.
Having a look at what Sam's list, things like:
- finding logic in others thoughts and then being able to challenge it
- being able to show interest and participate naturally
- capable of listening but in short bursts
- being able to take over the conversation
- likely to pay attention
Some of the thoughts or the listening behaviours that Sam will need to look at are some of the red and orange lists as I just said. Those things are going to be harder for him. They may require a bit more effort and bit more conscious thought, such as.
- Focusing more on details than the big picture
- Concentrate on listening without outward reaction
- Listening carefully without interrupting
- Paying attention to the facts and details
- Trying to connect the details to the big picture
Learning to listen in specific ways is an integral part of communicating, and it's not always how we say and what we say, but rather how we take things in from others and how we filter it.
How Others Adapt their Communication Style to You
Working in isolation not only involves the way Sam needs to be communicated with but also the way others need to communicate with Sam. It's not just about how Sam interacts with others; it's about how others interact with Sam and what his needs are. Typically on Sam's report, for example, it's how others might be interacting with him. When coaching communication, I always put in a section for allowing the individuals to understand how they like to be communicated with. Most people know one or two things about themselves in this area, but they haven't thought beyond something like, "yes I like fast communication slow" or "oh I like detail" or "I like the big picture." For us to be aware of our communication, we do need to take a look at what we like to understand what it is we don't like and how when it is being delivered in that way, what we prefer and why it triggers us. The more we can interact with others in the way we like it, the more effective it's going to be and the more engaged we're going to be. This particular page that you see on screen focuses on how people should communicate with Sam, taken directly from his report. It says, keep it short, let him contribute, and involve him as soon as possible. Focus on or start with the positives, be interested in him and what he has to say, ask for his input and thoughts, try not to bore him with unnecessary details, and be encouraging.
These pages give us a lot of information about two-way listening and how Sam may perceive the different styles when they communicate with him. Let's look at the way Sam might perceive an S style person. He might find them quite nice people to communicate with. Although it sometimes seems in your opinion challenging for them to initiate the discussion and you may already be wondering if they have forgotten you or if there's something negative that they don't want to share with you. When they talk, they are polite and trying to express their message in a well-constructed and positive manner. You may find them a bit careful in verbalising things which can get a bit boring for you if it continues for a long time. You find them quite good listeners.
Virtual Communication Considerations
Verbal face to face communication is not the only way we interact with people. We also communicate using programs like Zoom, phone calls and emails. Sometimes we need to visit that good old communication via written language as well because that is also a form of communication.
The report also covers virtual communication, and this page in the Remote Worker report is all about emailing the styles. Considering just how much we use email, that's very applicable. The report includes a few tips on how to adjust your typical emails when you are communicating with the different styles. With emails like any communication, the content is important. However, people often notice first, what the email looks like, they form their opinion about the appearance and only after that start reading.
Some tips for Sam when emailing a D style are to keep it clear and concise, describe what can be achieved, and give options. Or when Sam emails an I style, focus on the people and positive things, begin and end with something positive, use emojis, describe how it influences people. When emailing a C style, describe things in a logical order, keep a clear structure, use bullet points, explain why. Finally, when emailing an S style describe it from others viewpoints, spin the topic from different perspectives, describe how it influences the future, explain what will change but also how that may impact them, rationalise each option.
How to Leave a Voice Message
Now that we are working from home, we are forever leaving voice messages, and it's something we don't tend to give too much thought to yet gives a vital picture of ourselves. When you leave a message, it's a chance to put a bit of our character down and as well, but it's the chance to connect with someone if we can't get there immediately. So instead we leave a voice message. Similarly, with any communication, we also have a personal style of leaving messages but have you ever given it any thought to what you say and how you leave a message. Are you one of those people that give a short, direct message maybe just your name and phone number or do you leave a long explanatory message about why you're calling and asking them to do the activity that you're connecting with them about and give them all the information about it. We can see on Sam's report how a typical message a person with an I style would leave a message and also then a typical analysis of how some people with different DISC styles might typically react to that same message.
For example, "Hi this is Sam hope you're having a great day I just met this person who told me all about this interesting issues that you're working on at the moment that is so cool by the way please call me back when you have a moment i'd like to just chat it all over with you." You know some people may find that their mind starts drifting, they aren't listening or they may get a feeling that you just called them for no reason and didn't know if it was important for you to call them back. They may already busy without taking more of their time to chat with Sam. Some tips for Sam are add something about what you were planning to talk about and perhaps how they could prepare for that call. Provide them some structure or a plan, give them some concise information about why you're calling so they can prepare and ring you back. So having a look and assessing your voice messages is pretty important.
To summarise the four points today our communication style reflects our personality style so some types we find really easy to communicate with others we have to apply energy to stop and think and adapt. Secondly communication is not just about what we say, not just the content, but it's how we deliver it or the intent as well. We know the best communication is two-way and it takes into account other parties style, perspective, and their needs. Thirdly we can adapt if we want to but it starts with firstly awareness and then knowledge on top of that, then of course is the want to adapt and that is the thing that can bring all those three things together can make you more effective. Fourthly, there's a new report available for you and it is called the Remote Worker Self-study Workbook, it highlights three main sections. Individuals work factors, the psychological factors and the ones we've just briefly touched on today which is the communication factors.
Thank you for listening today and for joining me, catch you next time!