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Trevor E.S. Smith | Is Communication A Roll Of The Dice?

Published:Tuesday | July 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

Even with the best will in the world, we sometimes end up being misunderstood. Communication goes wrong without reason. An innocent comment causes a flare-up. Or, recognising the sensitive nature of a situation, we prepare a cautious approach that we feel is guaranteed not to ruffle feathers. However, the communication still gets messed up. Communication appears to be a matter of chance. Different people receive and interpret the same bit of information in unique ways. In fact, the same individual will respond differently to identical information presented in similar circumstances.

Isn't communication then just a hit-or-miss endeavour?

Human interaction is not a definitive science. We can't even guarantee that we send the message that we have in mind, let alone be assured that it will be received as we intend. That is why there is so much misunderstanding and conflict.




We tend to have patterns for how we send and receive information. We have preferred communication styles.

Identifying those styles and learning how to respond to them makes a huge difference to interactions and effective communication. Those communication styles have been classified and provide the foundation for the DISCerning model of communication.

Understanding our preferred style, and being able to identify and adjust effectively to other communication styles, takes a lot of the guesswork out of communication.

Here's a practical example:

You advertise your car for sale.

Scenario 1: The buyer calls and asks you to meet him at Devon House in half an hour.

DISCerning insights: Tone and authoritative appointment setting suggests this buyer has a preference for dominance (D-style). You can adjust and opt to maintain control by offering to meet at MegaMart in an hour.

The buyer pointedly asks: "So, what do you really want for the car?"

You steel yourself and respond in D-style: "I don't play games with prices. I know what this car is valued and that is the advertised price." She would not be here if she did not think this was good value for money. If I blink too early, she will have my lunch.

She says: "Well, this is beyond my budget, so, thank you for your time." She's good!

You calmly say, "OK. But it is interesting that you have not made me an offer. I thought you were serious about buying."

Due to space constraints, we summarise by indicating that the deal is concluded when your expensive rims are taken out of the deal to meet her target price. You sell the rims separately and come out ahead. Win-win!

Scenario 2: The buyer calls early. He wants to come with his mechanic at 10:20 a.m. He asks you to verify that all the details in the ad are correct.

DISCerning insights: This buyer appears serious. The precision of the appointment time suggests that they have a preference for the C-style in the DISC framework (reserved/task-oriented). Concluding this sale will be dependent on the quality of the evidence presented.

You apply C-style tools by pulling out the service book or receipts from your garage to provide evidence that you have serviced the car regularly and that there are no problems with it.

Scenario 3: The buyer calls and establishes where the car can be viewed and that you will be there all day. The buyer turns up and engages in a discussion about your mango tree and mango preferences.

The buyer goes on to share who they are and what they do and solicits the same from you. There is no mention of the car yet.

DISCerning Insights: The buyer seems to be using the I-style (outgoing/people-oriented). Relationships are relevant. You loosen up and engage. You shift the discussion to the car, referred to by a pet name. You are looking for someone worthy of owning 'Ninja'. You are no longer selling just a car but parting with an icon.

- Trevor E.S. Smith is a director of the Success with People Academy, home of the SHRM-accredited 3-D team leader certification: leading difficult, dominant and diverse personalities.

The Success with People Academy applies DISCerning communication while improving recruitment and team performance. It prepares personal and team behavioural DNA analyses and 360 surveys on the revolutionary FinxS Platform from Extended DISC.