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How to communicate with the people you work with

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Most dysfunction and challenges in leadership comes down to miscommunication. Whether you're leading a team, you're working with colleagues or you're trying to work out how to lead up to your leader, communication is key.

I find DISC behaviour profiles most helpful for communication. Have you done DISC? If not, I highly recommend it (I run workshops with teams on DISC by the way, wink).

You can find out your DISC leadership style here for free through Clarity's leadership style scorecard. Takes less than 10 mins.

D - D is for dominance.

New to DISC? Dominance is someone who is fast-paced and task-based. Everything is about 'Get it done'.

Communication tip:
Short. Written.

If you're working for a D or with a D or leading a D in your team, understand they're about getting it done so anything you can put in writing as a bullet point is a win. Avoid face to face meetings and phone calls when unnecessary and avoid essays at all costs because they just won't be read and they'll be really annoying.

I - I is for influence.

Influence is someone who is fast-paced and people-based. Everything is about 'Get connected'.

Communication tip:
Short. Verbal or face to face.

If you're working with an I, try to phone them or meet them face to face as much as possible. Include time for socialising by asking, 'How are you going?', 'How's the family?' etc and ask 'How are you feeling about...' often. But don't be tricked! Influence style leaders are not interested in a one hour catch up at a slow pace. They're keen for a one hour social catch up at a coffee shop sure, but for work it's about moving quickly and having a short meeting or phone call. They'll love the connection but also appreciate that you're moving quickly.

S - S is for stability.

Stability is someone who is slow-paced and people-based. Everything is about 'Get along'.

Communication tip:
Long. Verbal or face to face.

If you're working with an S, they're always thinking about how things will affect everyone. They're the hardest to bring along in change (I know!, crazy hey?) but the trick is if you get them super bought in then they'll be your biggest advocate for change as they naturally move around to all the different people and help get them on board.

The S style struggles to come out and say what they're thinking and how they really feel. It must be drawn out of them. So when you're communicating with them - particularly if you're a fast-moving D or I style, you're going to need to plan some...


I know, sorry! I'm an S. It takes time to draw it out of us but it will be worth it. Time is also important for C styles, but we'll get to that in a moment. Here we're talking about spending time together talking it through.

Are you leading an S? Call them and look at your watch and plan for 15 minutes to talk it through. Think about, 'How can I gently draw out of them what they really think and how they really feel?' They'll love it.

C - C is for compliance.

Compliance is someone who is slow-paced and task-based. Everything is about 'Get it right'.

Communication tip:
Long. Written.

Compliance style leaders are a gift to any team. They're fantastic at objective reasoning and I can only imagine how many disasters have been avoided because a C style put their hand up and said, 'What about this? Have we considered this?'

When it comes to communicating with a C, written is your friend.

Write. It. Down.

And give them time. Unlike the S style, a C won't appreciate long drawn out meetings. Instead, they'll appreciate long lead time to absorb and research. Do you have an important meeting or decision coming up for the team you lead or to present to your leader who's a C? Give them as much time in advance as possible!

If a D doesn't read essays, then a C loves them. And a C writes them! It's a sign someone is possibly a C, or has C style as part of their profile, if they tend to send mega essays all the time. Communicate with them in writing where possible and give them as much info and time in advance as you can.

So there you have it. To summarise:

D - dominance. Short and written.

I - influence. Short and verbal/face-to-face.

S - stability. Long and verbal/face-to-face.

C - compliance. Long and written.

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