Using DiSC® for Communication Skills Training

Written by Ryan Williams

communication skills training

Why Is Communication Important in the Workplace?

Team communication is the foundation of a strong workforce. Whether working with a superior or a peer, misunderstandings can lead to wasted time, lower productivity, and even resentment toward management or coworkers.

While communication styles are something we rarely mention when meeting another person, it is one of the most important things to know about them. Life is full of miscommunications that could be resolved if we only took the time to explain our intentions and interpretations. 

Investing in communication skills training is vital. Communication techniques are described and categorized in many different systems, and one that has become a favorite of companies everywhere is the DiSC® assessment. Learning DiSC® communication styles gives the members of your workplace an advantage in effective interactions. 

Barriers to Effective Communication

Issues can arise during team communication that aren’t the fault of anyone in particular. People have different communication techniques, and sometimes that can cause unintended misunderstandings.

  • Lack of clarity: Expressing unclear expectations to a team member leaves room for many misinterpretations. If the way you want something done is specific, that needs to be communicated to the individual who’s been assigned the task. Vague instructions lead to frustration on both ends. 
  • Assumed intentions: This is something everyone is guilty of. When people don’t state their intentions outright, we fill in the gaps with assumptions. Take, for example, a person who corrects their coworker in front of the team. The coworker may assume the person who corrected them does so to undermine or humiliate them, while the person thought they were being helpful and preventing the potential loss of a client. 
  • Indirect feedback: Telling another team member about the mistakes an employee made or ways they need to improve before that feedback reaches the employee doesn’t help anyone. This diminishes trust, and doesn’t give the employee a fair opportunity to correct their process. Bring your criticism to the source. 
  • Cultural differences: Cultural norms exist in a variety of contexts, whether within a specific workplace or from a person’s country of origin. In some places, small talk with coworkers isn’t expected, so it isn’t personal if they don’t inquire about your weekend.
  • Negativity bias: If an employee is worried that others don’t like them or they are not performing well, they may read into situations through a negative lens. A comment from a coworker can be taken the wrong way if negativity is expected. 
  • Nonverbal cues: Some nonverbal cues can be missed in person, but this facet of communication is nearly entirely eliminated in emails and messages. A person cannot take cues from a person’s facial expressions and tone to see if they meant something as a lighthearted joke or as an insult.

Using DiSC® in the Workplace

What Is a DiSC® Assessment?

DiSC® is based on the emotional and behavioral theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston from 1928. This theory was built to describe and predict behavior in certain situations. Your DiSC® profile explains how you approach challenges, how you interact with others, how you follow procedures, and how quickly you work. 

DiSC® Personality Types

There are four quadrants of the DiSC® personality model:

  • Dominance: The dominant personality type tends to be direct and demanding. They don’t sugarcoat things, as they see it as unproductive. They are unafraid to take risks and ask for what they want, regularly assuming leadership roles. 
  • Influence: The influence personality is warm, bright, and friendly. They are natural communicators, love being around people, and can easily persuade others.
  • Steadiness: Those with a steadiness personality type are introverted and caring. They are excellent at supporting others and are even-tempered. Their cooperation makes them great team players. 
  • Conscientiousness: A conscientious personality focuses on the details of projects. They place value on accuracy and quality, and they are analytical and task-oriented. 

The combination of these quadrants creates 12 main personality types: 

  • D: The winner. This person accomplishes everything they set out to do. They are results-focused, confident, decisive, and assertive. 
  • Di: The seeker. This person has big dreams and is determined to achieve them. They always need to be working on their next project, otherwise, they become restless. They are fast-paced, dynamic, pioneering, and inspirational. 
  • DC: The challenger. This person holds themselves and others to a high standard. They are independent, competitive, tenacious, and resolute. 
  • i: The enthusiast. This person is a social butterfly whose magnetism makes them a powerful force. They are talkative, influential, a problem solver, and accepting. 
  • iD: The risk taker. This person believes in themselves and trusts that all will work out. They are bold, impulsive, enthusiastic, and fast-paced. 
  • iS: The buddy. This person loves peace and wants everyone to be happy. They are approachable, perceptive, generous, understanding, and natural teachers. 
  • S: The peacekeeper. This person is skilled in diplomacy and frequently acts as a mediator. They are steady, cautious, reliable, calm, and sympathetic. 
  • Si: The collaborator. This person is excellent in their team-building skills. They are sincere, outgoing, expressive, and motivating.  
  • SC: The technician. This person is reliable and always gets the job done, but needs calm surroundings. They are rational, cooperative, stable, and accurate. 
  • C: The analyst. This person loves data and technical problem-solving. They are precise, methodical, logical, and detail-oriented. 
  • CD: The perfectionist. This person is always looking for improvement. They are ambitious, questioning, decisive, and driven. 
  • CS: The bedrock. This person doesn’t seek attention and may keep to themselves. They are prepared, modest, conflict avoidant, consistent, reliable, and withdrawn.

DiSC® for Communication Skills Training

DiSC® Communication Styles

Dominant (D) Communication Style

A dominant personality often talks at a person rather than to them and typically doesn’t like to be questioned. This can come off as intimidating to others. They are confident in their abilities and may interrupt, but this is because they see it as the most efficient way to see results. 

Influential (i) Communication Style

An influential personality has the urge to connect to those around them. They are confident and persuasive, but receptive to open discussions. They have a tendency to be emotionally open and crave the approval or reassurance of others. Acting as initiators, they will often suggest meetings.

Steadiness (S) Communication Style

Individuals with steadiness personalities are highly cooperative and try not to rock the boat. They sincerely love to help others and are appreciative of the efforts of team members. The downside is that they may become so focused on keeping the peace that they are afraid to speak up and may take on more than they can handle, minimizing their own needs.

Conscientious (C) Communication Style

The conscientious worker isn’t afraid to question methods or point out flaws in a project. They need exact instructions when appointed a task so they can plan their process carefully, and they appreciate feedback on their performance. Like the S, Cs move at a cautious pace and like have time to process to be sure to get it right, sometimes too much time, bogging things down in overanalysis. 

How DiSC® Helps Teams Overcome Communication Barriers

The DiSC® framework makes it easy to grasp basic communication dynamics and strive for greater clarity between teammates.

  • Greater understanding of oneself: Many people who take DiSC® for the first time are shocked at how accurately their profile describes their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A better understanding of self makes it easier to work with and understand others.
  • Increased empathy: Once people understand that others’ personalities may differ from their own, they can practice empathy and curiosity when they don’t understand another person’s behavior, rather than anger or defensiveness.
  • Easy framework: One of the advantages of DiSC® over other personality frameworks is that the four letters are easy to understand and remember. Many offices end up using the simple structure as a shorthand to remember the best way to approach one another for collaboration and problem-solving.
  • Less hostility: People often ascribe bad intentions to behaviors they do not understand, escalating misunderstandings to full-blown conflicts. DiSC® communication skills training encourages coworkers to remember that differences are not inherently wrong or malicious, and that mutual understanding and respect is always possible.

Benefits of Using DiSC® to Improve Team Communication

Using DiSC® to improve communication is an investment that helps companies in the long run. Communication training improves a team in the following areas:

  • Productivity: When members of a team understand each other’s priorities, there is no wasted time working on a project with a poor notion of what your teammate wants. Our time management course teaches employees how to maximize productivity and manage their schedules.
  • Onboarding: The DiSC® assessment is a beneficial tool for understanding people during their onboarding process. This can give themselves, their manager, and their team insights into how they operate from the start of their employment. 
  • Leadership: Most of the time, employees don’t leave a company. They leave management. Utilizing leadership foundations fosters growth in management and supervisors, giving them the tools to develop and motivate employees.  
  • Managing conflict: Knowing someone’s communication techniques leads to higher empathy and more patience in resolving conflict. Learn how to transform workplace conflict to be something productive that offers solutions. 
  • Cultural differences: If we can learn about differences in DiSC® communication styles, we can also learn about differences between cultures.. Working across cultures teaches cross-cultural communication techniques, building tolerance and acceptance. 

Try Team Communication Skills Training with Frontline

Even if there is no outward conflict in your workplace, communication skills training will bring your employees a deeper level of understanding and appreciation for each other. The importance of communication skills cannot be underestimated when it comes to increasing productivity and the trust employees have in a company. Try communication training with Frontline and see the changes in your team.

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About the Author

Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams serves as a Team Development Specialist at Express Employment Professionals of Grand Rapids. He is a certified Everything DiSC facilitator and has his master’s in organizational leadership from Cornerstone University. Ryan brings a wide variety of cross cultural leadership experience, having worked previously in Hong Kong and with Native American populations in Alaska. Most recently, Ryan has worked in higher education, developing and implementing training curriculum and programs across the organization. Ryan’s passion and focus is for everyone to love the place they work. People who love their workplace, work harder and perform better. He brings a unique perspective in helping organizations evaluate their organizational culture, understand cross cultural dynamics, and implement strategies to create better leaders