Measuring Behaviour & Understanding Communication Style

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Every month we look forward to exploring business topics with leaders from extraordinary organizations in our monthly Advice from Leaders blog posts. This month we had the pleasure of talking about DISC assessments with facilitator and relationship builder, Michelle Devlin from Creating People Power.

Working with clients in diverse industries, Michelle has an exceptional ability to bring out the best in people through various tools. One of these, is an assessment tool known as DISC. We were eager to learn more!

Q: What are assessments and how does your team use them?

A: DISC is often referred to as a personality assessment, which it is not. DISC measures behaviours, not personality. More specifically, it measures behavioural tendencies to help predict how someone might respond to a specific situation.

DISC helps us gain self awareness, enabling us to communicate more effectively, impacting how we work together as a team.
— Michelle Devlin

DISC not only indicates how you communicate with others, but also how you want to receive information.

In terms of how this is used in the workplace, it highlights some strengths and abilities we bring to our work which is useful in hiring and recruiting, developing teams and fostering cohesive teams. It is also used in executive coaching to help people become more self aware, and sometimes even in succession planning.

Q: What are some examples of different communication styles?

A: There are four distinct styles in this tool. Our behavioural patterns are learned early through our parents, peers and environments, and they become reinforced until they become habits. These habits make us predictable, but behaviours can also be learned.

DISC stands for Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Compliant, but there are some other words that can help describe the traits in each of these styles:

D- Decisive, results oriented, do-er, meeting objectives.

I- Inspiring, interactive, enthusiastic, people-oriented, passionate, effective communicators, cheerleaders

S- Supportive, stable, steady – concern for others, best listeners, follow the rules

C- Cautious, careful, analytical, accuracy is important, quality, expertise, quick to think, slow to speak, make and follow the rules.

It’s important to note that we are not defined by any one style. Each of us possesses a blend of all these styles, but each of us will have some more dominant tendencies in one category. A DISC assessment is helpful in understanding: what is my blend?

Q: How does your communication style affect your work?

A: Our communication style affects everything. Our personal relationships and work relationships are impacted by our communication style. It affects how we work and communicate with others, as well as identifies how best to communication with us; this includes both verbal, non-verbal and visual communications.

Q: Can you change or adapt your communication style?

A: With a willingness to change, you are definitely able to adapt your style. Sometimes adapting your style is essential to working well with others who have different communication styles from your own. When you are self aware, you can identify behaviours and recognize what to do differently to communicate better with your colleagues.

You can also adapt your communication style to different situations and settings. With an understanding of the 4 different styles and an awareness of your colleagues styles, you can determine how best to communicate with different people. Benefits to teams include less conflict, stronger communication and strong overall team cohesiveness.

Q: How does understanding the communication style of your team help you to work better together?

A: When your team completes their individual assessments and you obtain the results, the styles of each team member can be mapped on a wheel. This helps people visually recognized the communication styles of their team members and perhaps identify any gaps that might exist on the team. For example, does your team lack someone who is decisive? Do you have someone whose strength is bringing people together? Is there someone who clearly sees process and is effective at developing systems? The knowledge of the team enables members to communicate more effectively with one another and leverage one another’s strengths in making decisions.

Finally, DISC can also help individuals and teams work through conflict. Conflict is natural and even healthy to a certain extent. By using a DISC assessment and understanding different styles, people develop awareness on how to most effectively work through conflict. It can also help create a cohesive team by allowing people to understanding everyone’s communication style preferences fostering their ability to work more effectively together.