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What Is DISCerning Communication? Benefits, Best Practices, and Misuse

Published:Tuesday | October 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

What is 'DISCerning Communication'?

DISCerning Communication is a system of identifying the best way to relate to others at any point in time.

Our choice in how we behave is very similar to our taste in clothes. We have the option to change colours (actions), but we have a pattern of colour (behavioural) preferences.

Identifying preferences has many benefits, and that is the value of DISCerning Communication.

When buying clothing gifts at Christmas, it would make a positive difference if you knew the favourite colour of each person.

It will increase the likelihood of giving a gift that will be truly appreciated. But what if you listed Macy as cream or sky blue and after buying her gift, she attends a function in a canary yellow outfit with fire engine red accents?

Do you curse your luck over your poor selection? No need to. Something prodded Macy to step out of her comfort zone. She will still treasure the assurance and safety of your sensitive gift.

Identifying behavioural preferences provides us with the opportunity to gift others with interactions that are most pleasing to them. But how?

There is a revered framework that has been used by millions to classify behaviours through the ages. It is still popular today because users find it useful in dealing with others. Here is a comment from a critically thinking banker:

"I have been involved in executive management for 20 years with more than my fair share of success. The D-I-S-C framework has changed my perspective on management, leadership, followership and human interaction. Forever."

Livingstone Morrison, deputy governor Bank of Jamaica,

The D-I-S-C framework describes behaviours. A non-confusing way to understand and use it effectively is to think in terms of tools that we use to deal with life's unfolding experiences.

Karl Jung, the creator of the concept, suggests that we can separate the tools into four toolkits. These are not types of people! These are simply four approaches to navigating life: Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness, D-I-S-C.

We all have access to, and use tools from the four toolkits under different circumstances. However, over time, a recording of your choices will reveal that you selected some tools more than others and that you displayed an aversion to the use of at least one.

That information helps you on introspection, to better understand your approach to life and to reinforce or make adjustments as necessary. It is like doing an inventory of your wardrobe and reflecting on whether you are making the appropriate fashion statement.

In terms of DISCerning Communication, the D-I-S-C framework serves as a language of behaviours that allows you to speak to each person in their favourite behavioural tongue. You modify words, tone, and body language to create just the right vibe.

Here is how:

n Step 1: Master the descriptors of the D-I-S-C framework so that you can distinguish among behaviours (not people!).

n Step 2: Learn how to get best results in relating to each style in the framework.

n Step 3: Discern when each style is being displayed and speak in their behavioural language.

n Step 4: Avoid relying on "He is D"; "You are I"; "I am C" use of the framework!

So if 'He' is using S", it alerts me to speak 'S'. I am also aware that he could shift to using 'D' at any time and I am flexible enough to apply suitable 'D' strategies.

Properly understood, the behavioural classifications are consistent. People are not. Focus on identifying behaviours instead of trying to unravel the complexities of individuals. It is easier to navigate life's journey when you can discern behaviours and learn how best to respond to them.

Learn more in the SHRM internationally accredited 3-D Leader Certification: Dealing with Difficult People Live face-to-face retreat - Kingston Nov 12-14.

The next cohort of the ICF/SHRM-accredited Certified Behavioural Coach Award is January 2016.

Email: Tel: 315-1345.

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy which is recognised by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) to offer professional development credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM certifications.