Communication with Uncomfortable People
By Lillian D Bjorseth
Ever notice how comfortable you feel with certain people? You can say and do
what you want,and communication flows smoothly. Then, there are those OTHER
people. The ones whose footsteps in the hallway make the hair on the back of
your neck bristle as you put on your armor for the battle that will ensue.
It seems as if no matter what you say or how you say it, good communication
doesn’t happen. Your message is distorted, and you feel frustrated, misunderstood
and even angry.
One of the major reasons for this common workplace phenomenon is people’s different
behavioral style. You can be naturally conflictive when you behave naturally!
There’s hope. Behavioral experts have made it relatively easy to understand
why people act and react the way to do. And, once you better understand yourself
and others, you can modify your behavior in different situations since people
like to be dealt with in their style. It will help you make the sale, improve
teamwork, manage better, reduce conflict and improve communication. These principles
have been espoused since Greek mythology and furthered by people like Hippocrates,
Carl Jung and William Marston.
The four major behavior patterns are dominance, influencing, steadiness and
conscientiousness (DISC). Each of us is a combination of all four, but almost
everyone finds at least one or two of the styles most comfortable.
Dominant styles are easy to detect. They sport a strong handshake, steady eye
contact and exhibit a confidence that may overwhelm less powerful people. They
prosper by solving challenges … and often are a challenge for others. They
don’t get ulcers; they are carriers. They are risk takers and thrive as CEOs
of their own companies and big corporations. To get along better, provide brief,
direct answers. Stick to business and the results they desire. Ask “what” questions.
Influencers are natural networkers. They are still working the room, hallways
and parking lots long after most people have left. Usually, people talk at
160 words a minute. High “Is” comfortably speak at 400 words a minutes, with
gusts up to 700 words. They are spontaneous and change plans at a moment’s
notice. This can result in piles of papers on their floors and desks, the top
of which they haven’t seen since they got it. They thrive in sales, public
relations and other jobs that “deal with people.” Provide a favorable, friendly
environment and let them verbalize about people, ideas, the weather and on
and on. Supply testimonials, as they want to know “who” is using your products
and services and attending your After-Hours. Focus on building relationships!
Steady people are just as their moniker indicates: Amicable, calm, soothing,
sincere, loyal and the consummate team player. They are so nice … dogs come
up and pet them! They are most comfortable when everyone gets along, thus,
the most disappointed when conflict arises. They often climb into their shell,
hoping the disagreements will disappear. They are by far the best listeners
and often are cornered by the natural networkers! Provide a sincere, personal
and agreeable environment. Focus on answers to “how” questions. Assure them
you will personally follow up.
Conscientious people are analytical, quality control people who make sure things
are done right. Usually, they think they can do it “most right.” As managers,
they have sticky fingers and micro-manage. They seem to have computers in their
heads and compare what is said to their database. If it fits, they keep it;
if not, they discard it. This process (and they spent a lot of time processing),
takes time and, therefore, they are the least verbal. Prepare your case in
advance and logically present pros and cons. Help them see the “whys.” Be prepared
to provide lengthy explanations … and leave the small talk behind.
Understanding your personal preference(s) and those of others will help you
improve your bottom line results.
For Further Reading