Most of us know we can improve our communication skills, but we don’t always know where to start.
Socrates said, “Know thyself.” Aristotle expanded on that, saying “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
Let’s assume these wise scholars were on to something.
Before we can create strategies for communicating more effectively with others, we must first figure out who we are and what we bring to the communication “table.” Our personal style, skills, and approaches greatly influence how our communications might be perceived by others. Communication strengths and weaknesses also impact how we’re viewed.
To ensure we’re on the same page, we use the DISC behavioral spectrum, which groups behaviors into four categories: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. Research shows we have natural preferences that influence our behaviors. We call this the “language of behavior,” as it provides a unique way of interacting.
If you are reading this post as part of the Navigator, Edge or Infinity Programs, you already have your DISC assessment with an identified “natural graph” showing the four behavioral styles by height. If you haven’t completed the DISC assessment, you may contact us to do so (there is a charge to complete the formal assessment), or feel free to take the free self-scorer.
- Identify your core behavioral style (D, I, S, or C). This is either the highest plot point on the natural graph in your assessment or the highest number on your self-scored sheet. If you have two identically high scores, you may choose one (or use both) for this exercise.
- Open the DISC Communication Strategies and review the four style overviews on pages 2-3. Consider what is accurate about your own style. What is not? How might your second-highest style influence how you communicate and interact with others?
- List your communication strengths and weaknesses. For example, you may be a great verbal communicator or be exceptional at following up (strengths). Your weaknesses might include writing overly long emails or speaking impulsively. The more strengths and weaknesses you list, the more insightful the exercise.
- Consider a person you interact with (personally or professionally) and with whom you’d like to be more effective. Use the Quick Behavioral Recognition on page 4 to determine their core style.
- Continue working through the next pages, learning more about yourself and the other person’s style. At the bottom of each page (5-8) indicate your score for that style (if you have your assessment), and consider people around you who may fit this style. Record strategies to use in future interactions with that person.
- Indicate your possible “shadow behaviors” based on your style. If the ones listed for your core style (page 9) don’t fit perfectly, add your own descriptions. The purpose of this page is to consider how each behavioral strength (if overused) can become a weakness or shadow.
- Indicate the communication preferences and dos/don’ts for the other person. Select at least one strategy to communicate more effectively with them (use pages 10-11).
The more you learn about yourself, the more effectively you’ll be able to apply these strategies. Once you have gained enough “language proficiency,” you may find learning how to flex your style particularly interesting.