April 2018 Features On The Cover

Improving Communication & Networking Through DiSC® Self-Awareness


Written By: Mollee Jakubisin

“Im an I, Liam is without a doubt an S while Taylor on the other hand is a combination, she’s a DC.”

If your office commonly uses the DiSC® assessment for its employees, the quote above might be something you hear regularly in casual conversation.

DiSC® is a quick assessment, only taking about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Initials from DiSC® are used to represent the individual’s more prominent behavioral traits. Each category has a more in-depth breakdown explaining the individual’s behavior type and how it may impact his or her communication.

The DiSC® behavior assessment is a relationship building paradox. By raising self-awareness, DiSC® can, not only ultimately help individuals understand their own behavior, but it can help them understand other people’s behavior as well and how to communicate with them.

Unlike other personality and behavior assessments, DiSC® tailors to the work environment. DiSC’s® initials stand for dominance, influence (also known as interactive), steady (also known as supportive) and conscientious.

According to Dan Silvert, president of Velocity Advisory Group and author of The True Competitive Advantage: A Practical Guide to Achieving Extraordinary Success through Deep Relationships DiSC’s® profile enables self-awareness which not only helps facilitate communication in the workplace, but also in networking situations.

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence, he said. So, you’ve got to know who is really in the mirror in order to be effective in your relationships whether they be personal relationships or professional. Distortion issues, when you view yourself as someone different than everyone else experiences, hinders the formation of relationships, he continued.

Debbie Mason, president of the consulting firm Strategists, Inc., said DiSC® helps people communicate by opening their eyes to new perspectives. Similarly, Silvert said high self-awareness leads to curiosity about other people and their behavior styles.

By facilitating communication, DiSC® increases production in the workplace. Nick Banks, managing director of Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group, said understanding the different behavior types allows him to see how other people, both internal and external of this organization, may view a situation or conflict.

When you’re managing people, or dealing within the context of a team, you can’t take a one-size fits all approach, he said. As the leader of an organization, Banks said he custom tailors the delivery of information to fit a person’s behavior type.

Brad Pollitt, the vice president of facilities at UF Health, uses DiSC® to aid team communication when starting a new project. He’s used DiSC® at the onset of UF Health’s cancer hospital and its heart and vascular hospital.

When building a new large facility, Pollitt approaches it as if he is starting a company.

“My goal is to look like the team that Ford built,” Pollitt said, “but I don’t have as much time as they had. I have to do this quickly.”

Anyone who has input on the project, such as architects, engineers, medical equipment planners and city inspectors, takes DiSC®. After adopting the behavior assessment, Pollitt noticed that the team worked better and performed with less stress and errors. He also said the project was more enjoyable overall.

Silvert said most conflicts in the workplace stem from people taking an interaction personally. Understanding the different behavior types helps people look beyond the surface of a conflict.

“It’s a paradox,” he said. “When you depersonalize interactions, you can actually grow closer to people.” DiSC® is just one of many personality and behavior assessments. One of the reasons Mason confidently refers her clients to DiSC® is the sound research supporting its methods. Research on the assessment is robust and includes “hundreds of thousands of observations” in a large variety of workplaces, she said.

“So, the science and the rigor are really there to validate the instrument and its reports,” Mason said.

To help people remember their results, Silvert assigned birds to each of the four behavior types. Eagles represent dominance, parrots represent influence/interactive, doves represent steadiness/supportive and owls represent conscientiousness.

Eagles and parrots are extroverted whereas doves and owls are introverted. However, eagles and owls tend to be more task focused compared to parrots and doves who tend to focus on relationships. Although the four behavior types have similarities, each one possesses its own exclusive traits.

Learning a behavior type’s greatest fear can help in the pursuit of understanding why a person acts or communicates in a certain way, Silvert said. The eagles’s biggest fear is losing, so they are results focused. A parrot’s largest fear is disapproval. The dove’s greatest fear is he or she harmed the relationship in some way.

An owl’s fear is unreliability or producing sloppy work.

“Once you understand this,” he explained, “behaviors start to make sense because people prioritize based on protecting what they fear.”

Understanding and learning how to assess someone’s behavior type can be a great asset when networking. Approach someone in the behavior style that’s natural to you, he said. However, pay attention to what the other person does and how they react.

“Match the moment, not the mirror,” Silvert said. Don’t be phony, he stressed, simply lean into the other person’s behavior type to make them feel more comfortable. Adapting to other styles at the right time is crucial when communicating and trying to connect to others.

When approaching an eagle, be brief and open with the bottom line, he said. When talking with parrots, smile because they are turned off by negativity. Keep the conversation informal and talk about possibilities because parrots are attracted to opportunities. When interacting with a dove, calm it down a little bit. Be genuine when speaking with a dove and leave them time for reflection. When approaching an owl, speak in factual terms and be specific.

Silvert’s main goal is to help people improve their relationships. Using the DiSC® profile helps him accomplish this goal, he said.

“The quality of your life is almost fully dependent on the quality of your relationships, Silvert said. You’ve got healthy relationships, you’re a happy person.”

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Mollee Jakubisin is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida with a concentration in English. She plans to travel through Europe in the near future. Until then, Mollee will spend her time reading, laughing with friends and family, and dreaming about the day she can finally afford to have her own puppy.

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