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10 Ways To Communicate More Effectively With A Dominant Personality

Published:Monday | November 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM

In years of addressing interpersonal challenges a constantly recurring issue is the challenge of communicating effectively with dominant personalities. There is frustration, anger, submission, despair, avoidance, and separation.

When interacting with someone with a dominant personality, you will enhance your chances of success if you observe the 10 guidelines outlined below.

1. First, recognise that your perception has a lot to do with the challenges you are encountering. Also, bear in mind that the only person that you can change is you. So the recommendation is that you should focus on modifying your response in order to get better results from this encounter. There is often a feeling of intimidation - be aware, this might be largely your perception.

2. Be quick. 'Thinking on your feet' will create a comfortable environment for the dominant personality. There is the added bonus that you may be considered smart, brave or both. Qualities respected by dominant personalities.

3. Be specific. Beating around the bush is a definite no no!

4. Speak in 'bullet points' and you are more likely to hold their attention. Patience is not one of the virtues embraced by dominant personalities.

5. Get to the point. Bottom line.

6. Do NOT keep them waiting for your responses. Poor Suzie lost her job because her dominant boss thought that she was guilty of insubordination for failing to respond quickly enough to his questions. Suzie was stunned by his accusations and needed time to process her response. Each time she got close to answering she was badgered and she finally retreated into silence.

7. Phrase your comments in the context of meeting their objectives.

You achieve a greater level of buy-in if you operate from a position of addressing their needs. Remember the w-Ii-f-m factor. What is in it for me?

8. Let them lead the dialogue.

Finding out what their objectives are gives you an early indication of what they have in mind and gives you a head start in crafting your approach. Asking questions as against making statements is wise. "What do you think should be done?"

9. Keep your agenda in mind but be careful about being too rigid.

10. Do not get upset if you are interrupted.

You might be thinking that the conversation should be like using a two-way radio where one party hands over to the other when they have completed their comment. "Over".

Instead, you might be faced with slipping in your comments while your counterpart reloads. Also, cutting you off in mid-sentence is driven more by a strong urge to get a point across than any intention of disrespect.

You must hold your ground against this tide or get swept away.

Watch my YouTube video "Leading Dominant personalities"

Master these and other DISCerning Communication techniques in our SHRM-accredited 3-D Leader Certification: Leading Difficult People programme. Earn PDCs for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP certifications. Register now for a Face-to-face retreat January 21-23, 2016. Email:

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy.