Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Trevor E. S. Smith | Misunderstanding meekness

Published:Sunday | April 7, 2019 | 12:00 AM

“You can’t promote Steve. He is too soft. Nice guys get pushed aside. Strong guys stem the tide.”


A common fallacy has been played out right there. Somehow, being nice cannot be linked to being strong.

This muddled thinking actually impacts the largest single behavioural group in most organisations and in the wider populace.

Individuals with a preference for the steadiness style of behaviour in our DISCerning communication model, represent the largest proportion of most populations. In other words, steadiness (S-style) is likely to be the preferred behavioural style of more of your colleagues than any other approach to navigating life and relating to others.

Yet, it is amazing how often the question is asked, as we work in developing leaders and high-performance teams, as to whether the S-style can lead!


During many years of coaching behavioural styles, it is conspicuous how little negative feedback there is against S-style behaviour.

Despite the comparatively small numbers with a preference for the use of dominance (D-style), issues in relation to the D-style dominates the agenda.

While the S-style is not universally admired, its use does not seem to rub people the wrong way to a sufficient degree for them to complain.

Your S-style colleague is not quick to rock the boat, and you will usually be able to get along with them without a lot of conflict.


The S-style philosophy can be likened to how we view the weather. God gives us sun and God gives us rain. We have no control over either outcome. We should learn to accept that reality.

We should also bring our minds and being into subjection so that we accept circumstances that are beyond our control. This inspires a greater level of tolerance and patience.

This is also the submissiveness factor that is a feature of S-style behaviour. Individuals with an S-style preference might be more willing to submit, or even give up the fact that they are right, for a peaceful life.

Indeed, one coaching tip for persons with an S-style preference who want to increase their impact and influence is to “be less submissive”.


Regardless of our behavioural preference, we operate emotional bank accounts. If someone does something that we deem as being favourable, we treat that as a deposit.

Unfavourable actions are treated as withdrawals.

The S-style operates their emotional bank differently. They are willing to allow extensive overdrafts.


This commitment to pursuing peace and to extending emotional bank overdrafts is often misunderstood, with serious consequences. It is sometimes viewed as weakness which, in turn, inspires attempts at exploitation.

However, S-style emotional bankers are prompted to review accounts if they suspect a breach of trust, or that they are being treated unfairly. If they perceive that their concerns are valid, they will have no qualms in closing the account, as well as the bank and the street to the bank. That relationship is shut down totally!

It is difficult to earn the trust of S-style users, and when that is busted, it is really difficult to recover.


Some of our coachees share that it can be tricky avoiding the closure of their account. They argue that their S-style colleagues are not swift to point out when they have been offended.

They might make a note of the incident without sharing it with them ... for a peaceful life

However, S-style users are not sold on that argument. Another feature of S-style behaviour is being sensitive. They tend to be emotionally invested in relationships and to place themselves in the shoes of others. Consequently, how can you not know that a given action hurts?

In the cut and thrust of life and our busyness, this is a significant cause of challenges within teams, and a threat to employee engagement and cooperation.

Learning to speak the language of behaviours and to master our DISCerning communication principles help organisations to achieve high levels of performance and cohesiveness in their teams.


- Don’t shout (this includes your body language).

- Be patient.

- Listen with empathy.

- Be sincere and understanding.

Ensure that you provide the necessary training, resources, support and time to enable the professional completion of assignments.


Request a copy of our publication: Understanding S-Style Behaviour.

- Trevor E. S. Smith of the Success with People Academy solutions align, drive and track performance. Our SPIKE performance management, governance and compliance e-platform supports compliance, tracks performance and guides learning and development. We certify leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop engaged, high performing teams. Avoid bad hires with FinxS solutions from Extended DISC. Ask about how to create your own turn-key coaching business. Email: