DISC and Conflict Resolution
The point of all this background information is to understand in normal work relationships the behaviours of those we work with and to understand ourselves and emotional reactions based on pain and gains under tension. These links help us evolve and find a willingness to change or adapt in situations that cause conflict. No set conflict strategy or steps that I can teach you will be effective without underlying knowledge about what makes someone else tick. It's about developing empathy with the other person, not about rules of engagement delivered from the top-down. Having strategies and methodologies will help as a secondary and step. Remember that being under pressure tends to send us back to using our natural behaviour, which is more comfortable. Many tactics we use in conflict situations can be conscious or learned behaviours. In truth, it's harder for us to stick to using them if we aren't in control of ourselves and consciously thinking about how we can apply them all the time. Once we lose control and revert to our natural style, all the areas that provoke us start to come out. That's when our calm exterior can leave, and the energy begins pouring out.
Let's go back to our primary just Styles and drill down a little more on each one.
Resolving Conflict with the D Style
These individuals are high achieving and can be direct to the point of abrupt at times. They are most likely to sit and work towards their own firm goals. When people or things are in their way of what they want, they want to remove it. Remember, their pain is loss of control, using too much emotion and not achieving things. Conflict can arise in dealing with people who may seem too slow and procrastinating or that they're not pulling their weight as it can frustrate them. If you're a salesperson stopping them from getting what they want in a deal, you are also in the way. People who waffle and don't get to the point within reason can set them off because their purpose is unclear.
The thing here is that the D style is a fast thinker and an action taker. For those styles that often need a lot of processing time before they take action, this can quickly lead to conflict. Typically the hard-driving dominant D style can end up just charging in and fixing or doing the activity themselves. The other more passive or people-pleasing profile types can easily be intimidated or steamrolled by this type of aggressive worker. The D can react harshly to criticism during conflict and can become aggressive in the eyes of others. So when disputes arise, communication almost always goes better if you know if you can know your purpose with them. Make your conversations more to the point and faster with shorter sentences and altogether more meaningful especially state the purpose of why you're dealing with what you're dealing with. They want to resolve things fast so they can have direction and move on.
Here's a powerful tip when communicating with a D, especially in conflict. First, set an agenda. Include two or three issues like looking at what went wrong and also how we can fix it. Signal to the other party that this conversation has a purpose and is going somewhere. You will give the illusion you have thought about it and that you're in control of where it's going, or they will step in and take control as their time is precious to them.
Here's another tip worth practising. Keep your communication in the factual or cognisance arena, as this helps you be less emotional and get on with the issue at hand. Basically, in dealing with a conflict with a D, you should keep calm, rational and direct in your communication.
Resolving Conflict with the I Style
I Styles are our excitable employees, team members or customers. They are likely to speak up when challenged or upset. They are more prone to outbursts and dramatics than the other styles. I styles are also more likely to be upset by perceived personal slights or feelings that another employee is getting undeserved accolades. I styles need to participate and to be heard. They need to be talking and to be influencing people even if they're trying to listen if they're not engaged in the conversation, it's tough for them to stay listening. When resolving conflict encourage them to talk by asking questions but learn the skill of agenda control to keep the conversation on track. Keep bringing them back to the point. You might even learn some simple questioning techniques like 'the real issue is' or 'that's important but more important is' or 'at the end of the day what we need to resolve is.' These transitions let you engage with an I style in conversation while simultaneously keeping the communication on track. Remember, not talking things through and being excluded is a pain of the I style, and pain quickly leads to tension which leads to the I style trying to dominate and therefore creates conflict.
Resolving Conflict with an S Style
An S style worker is less likely to engage in direct conflict with others. It's also why this style can also surprise us. Normally quiet and often in the background, S types have deep-seated avoidance pain areas. It's this that they usually hold in and hold below the surface. Occasionally, if a major area like fairness or injustice is triggered, that quiet person either explodes or withdraws and becomes sullen, excludes themselves, or is often passive-aggressive. They can be resistant to change, so even minor changes in procedure or routine can be surprisingly upsetting to this otherwise pretty steady employee. If you want to avoid conflict and hurt feelings in this area, providing plenty of notice of pending changes from workflow to office set-up will help them cope. The S type people give clues and cues in their tone, demeanour, and style regarding what they are thinking. The tip is to recognise these clues. Don't ignore them but question why this person feels that way. Take your time and don't talk over them. Let them express their thoughts for a change, and don't interrupt. If you're a D or an, I type, you will want to push the issue along and control it. However, you will avoid many conflicts by holding back, going slower and letting the S type person express themselves fully. It will be quicker for you in the long run and far more productive.
Resolving Conflict with the C Style
This work focused person can become overly critical when challenged or someone is not doing what they're supposed to do. The C style is logical, exact, correct, and they are a real thinker. These people can resist change if it doesn't mean improving the quality of work. They are concerned about processes and rules and what should be. Their pain is often flamboyant or overly emotional expressions as they all think that is like puffs and wind without any substance. Our tip is to use evidence. Evidence can be logic, visual aids, facts, statistics or research. C type people usually respond well to anecdotes and stories with real examples.
If you're dealing with a C type person, you will almost always do better to avoid conflict by less bluster and emotion and more facts, anecdotes and evidence to back up your communication or issue. They also want you to get straight to the point and explain the 'why'. The 'why' is often very important. The C style worker will often want proof or evidence to back up your issue or problem and resist intangible complaints or become reclusive if you can't let them know the why. There are times that the S style can come across as cold or even harsh to other workers and may be accused of even being a bit rude. Giving them a chance to air any issues and then ensuring others involved in the conflict are given a chance to weigh in as well can really help resolve problems in the workplace when a C person is involved.
Types of Difficult People
Most of what we have discussed today has been about underlying behaviour as it helps shape how we behave observably. I also want to bring into the foreground the more commonly recognised types of difficult people and what we might use to categorise them. You would have met with some of these yourself. Any of the DISC personality types can be any of these particular difficult people. It depends on the situation, what's needed, and the motivators that make them one of these types of difficult people.
The types of difficult people are the:
- Yes people
- No people
The know-it-alls avoid pain by becoming adamant. They know best. Asking them questions can inflame conflict because they feel challenged. Our tip is to use words like 'help me understand why you believe such and such' or 'tell me why you think it's this way' these statements are a softer way of asking questions and doesn't imply disagreement. Using the word 'tell me' gets people to open up and explain more softly without provoking the 'know-it-all' types.
Our tip is to get what they're thinking out onto the table. Be direct, consistent and use repetition. The key is to ask them what they think gently, so it's in the open. Make them feel safe with how they're thinking so they will keep being honest with you.
The Dictators pain is being questioned and not moving forward. Use and set a short agenda and that we discussed previously.
The Yes People
The 'yes' peoples pain is conflict and being challenged. It's usually safe to do the opposite. Ask them to come up with an alternative the two of you could discuss. Give them time to think, especially if they are S styles they hate been highlighted and singled out, especially in a group. So, give them time to prepare their thoughts.
The No People
We have to be careful not to assume that these are always S or C type people who normally dislike change. They like to follow well-defined procedures. No people's first reaction is to resist. Our tip is to ask them if how they would like to proceed. Ask them what they see as the danger areas. Ask them for their ideas and their input. The skill is to get them talking and then decide if their restraint is based on facts or fear.
The gripers usually gripe behind the scene. They are simply expressing their fears but not often in the main meeting. They are looking for support from others, and actually, the I styles can be quite good at sub teaming and influencing people and their way of thinking. So our tip is not to confirm their own thinking. Don't allow yourself to be drawn in. A team's only a team if they agree to move in the same direction. Gripers usually stop griping if they don't get support from others.
We've covered a fair bit of information today. I wanted to do a quick summary. One of the things that we've talked about today is that we all tend to behave in routine. Some of our behaviours are natural, and some are perceived need to adjust or learnt. As tension grows, we learn to defend our emotions, and this leads to conflict. Conflict can be rational or emotional, built on both. Knowing the DISC styles helps you understand why people behave the way that they do. Each DISC type has common gain behaviours and pain behaviours. Sometimes we can refer to those as overuse behaviours or fears. Conflict can be reduced or avoided if we learn some fairly basic behavioural tips.
When interpersonal conflict affects us in the workplace, it can quickly alter our levels of motivation, job satisfaction and job performance and all of these can affect business performance and the bottom line. We need to learn how to deal with conflict through some of these areas and to put them into practice. We can't avoid conflict, but it certainly can run smoother if you understand people better and try practising some of the tips you learned for each style.