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Trevor E.S. Smith | Disciplinary pitfalls:The C-style behaviour

Published:Tuesday | May 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Trevor Smith

Today, we look at challenges related to the disciplining of individuals with a preference for C-style behaviour.


Characteristics of C-style individuals


Reserved/task-oriented, conscientious, cautious, compliant, seeks perfection, rule-based, relies on facts over emotions, legalistic.

To access a quick reference guide to identifying and relating to the different styles here, go to





Pause for a moment to reflect on key characteristics of C-style behaviour:

Compliant | seeks perfection | conscientious

If that is my mindset, how easy will it be for me to accept that I have fallen short on any of those accounts?

Being subjected to a disciplinary event would be difficult for me to accept.

When we face difficulties, we tend to fall back on things in our comfort zone. Forced to face up to being disciplined, someone with a preference for C-style behaviour may quickly resort to another characteristic - being legalistic.




A disciplinary episode with the C-style is similar in many respects to being in a courtroom. You may be asked to marshal evidence to support your claim of wrongdoing or a failure to comply on their part.

There might be a testing of underlying factors that you may be overlooking as you impose disciplinary action.

What were the instructions or rules?

Are we interpreting them in the same way?

If there is room for other interpretations, is it fair for you to rely on your interpretation?

"Since the time frame was not clearly specified, it is reasonable for me to comply on my own schedule. To treat that as disobeying your instructions is unjust."




Individuals with a preference for C-style behaviour are likely to go to extraordinary lengths to justify their actions and to 'prove their innocence'.

Consequently, it is very important to get your facts straight and also to support them with evidence. Even a casual reprimand could provoke an ongoing recitation of their position with a view to having you retract your accusation and extend an apology. Their need to be right is not to be underestimated.




If you can go toe to toe with putting your fingers on the required documentation and feel comfortable marshalling evidence like a seasoned lawyer, then you are good to go.

For those that are not so well endowed, here is a strategy from which you should never depart when it comes to disciplining an individual with a preference for C-style behaviour:

Avoid discussing past behaviour. Yes, the dialogue might have been triggered by something that was done. The wrongdoing or non-compliance might be palpably etched in your mind. However, don't get trapped in the courtroom!

Speak to behaviour that you are requiring going forward. From here onwards, you will be holding people accountable for failing to display these behaviours or meet these standards. You are not accusing anybody of anything. You are simply laying out ground rules with great clarity.

Proceed to lay out what is expected and get acknowledgement that there is no misunderstanding. Take care to spell out the consequences as well. There should be clarity as to how you will determine whether or not there is compliance.




"Are you telling me that I must disregard wrongdoing or a lack of compliance and wait until it happens again?"

Excellent question! My response is "Not really". We must always exercise good judgement. If you have reliable evidence, then proceed. Remember, many 'iron-clad cases' have been thrown out before the courts. Before you accuse, make sure there is not a valid excuse.

You can also pull rank and override objections. However, you will be setting the example of 'might is right'. Beware the consequences.

I am hosting a free, interactive workshop on DISCerning Parenting, Saturday, June, 2 at 5 p.m. at the St Andrew Church of Christ, 77 Red Hills Road.




Get further insights on DISCerning Parenting at

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