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Chris LoCurto

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October 11, 2011

The Missing Link To Your Communication

October 11, 2011 | By | 36 Comments">36 Comments

If you know me well at all you know that I am crazy about understanding personality styles and the people they control. (Insert smiley face icon.) As I always say, if you’ve ever given someone direction on something and they just stand there looking at you with the deer in the headlights look, then you probably think to yourself, “I know this person is not dumb, why don’t they get what I’m saying?”

While we have a tendency to believe that the issue of understanding what we’re saying is the hearer’s fault, the truth is that it’s ours. We give information the same way we receive information. Therefore, if I give someone with a strong detail personality information the way I like it, (short and sweet, and in sound bites) then I am failing to set them up for success.

The reason I’m so passionate about personality styles is that once you understand how people, think, act, react, process, etc., you begin to learn how to some extent you can win with communication. Now hear me correctly on this, I’m not saying that you are a failure, (That’s for all of you high I’s and S’s in the DISC profile) I’m saying that you’re not fully reaching your potential. For example, about 8 years ago I hired a fantastic woman in a very stressful administrative type of role.

Actually it was admin on steroids…and…Jolt Cola. Each time I would give her a project to work on she would look at me funny, leave my office, and in 10 minutes she would be back letting me know that she didn’t understand what to do. After a few months of dealing with the same type of issue, I decided to pull out her DISC profile and read through it immensely. As I did I discovered that I was being a horrible leader.

There was no possible way she could do the projects I asked of her since I had not given her enough information to actually complete the tasks. Once I realized that, and decided to stop thinking of only me, I called her in and explained how bad I was doing as her leader. Without hesitation she said, “um, yeaaaaah…I agree!” Okay, actually she was still processing, but that’s what her eyes were telling me.

This doesn’t just stop at your team members. It carries over to your family, your friends, and your customers. If you don’t see how important that is, stop reading my blog and get back to playing your PlayStation. Even if you have taken the profile, or you’re really smart and you’ve had your team take it, I can tell you that I have met a couple of people out of hundreds who actually understand how to use them correctly.

Question: When have you noticed different personality styles causing communication struggles?

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  • http://www.connectinteractivellc.com Norma Maxwell

    Ugh. I just had this happen. “Therefore, if I give someone with a strong detail personality information the way I like it, (short and sweet, and in sound bites) then I am failing to set them up for success.” really resonates because that’s exactly the communication miss I had recently with a client. I was so relieved when the project was over because I felt as though I was spending more time replying to detailed/repetitive emails/questions than actually getting the work done for her–it drove me nuts. Though I know I should work on me for this, my true inclination is to simply screen clients harder so I don’t have to deal with that personality type! Not very nice of me :/

    You mention regarding the DISC, “I have met a couple of people out of hundreds who actually understand how to use them correctly.” which begs the question: How does one use them (the results I assume?) correctly, and are there resources available to serve as a guide? I’ve taken a number of similar tests over the years, but not disc specifically–but curious.

    Thanks! :)

  • http://twitter.com/tbric Tom Brichacek (@tbric)

    I should look into this. I’m really struggling with employees grasping what I am telling them. They acknowledge what I say, make a couple notes then go to it. I walk thru the plant later, and they have forgotten to do the item we discussed previously. I just caught one mistake as the truck was getting loaded for shipment. What to do, what to do….

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Is it their lack of details, or lack of understanding. They get different answers.

      • http://twitter.com/tbric Tom Brichacek (@tbric)

        I think it is their lack of details with a splash of lack of understanding on the side. How would you conquer the lack of details part? I’m working like heck to fix my communication.

        • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

          You have to set up a process for them to follow. A checklist even. And then walk them through the process as well as check up on it from time to time. As they get used to it, and you inspect what you expect, they will get better at the details.

  • http://gravatar.com/lgthaxton Louise Thaxton

    I learned these lessons the HARD way! Before I was introduced to DISC I thought everyone should work and act and respond like me! The problem was – I needed them to do the tasks that I did not like to do (detailed work since I am high I and D) and do it NOW! And I didn’t want to take the time to give all the details when I assigned a task – I suppose I thought they should read my mind! When I employed a high C – wow – she wanted ALL the details.

    After I began coaching, and had the DISC profile on me – I did it on every one of my team! I won’t say that I have it right now – but I’m better than I use to be! And I have learned (once again the hard way) – when you have the C’s and S’s to do the work that we I’s and D’s HATE, it is much better to take the time to fully communicate all the details in the beginning – and then they can take it and do it better than I ever could!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      And the funny thing is that C’s and S’s want to make D’s and I’s look good.

  • Anonymous

    I have always like to repeat back what people are asking of me, merely to confirm what was said, kind of in an agreeing type conversation. But sometimes it gets people upset that I am repeating things…

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It really does depend on the personality style. If it’s a dominant or and influencing personality, they feel offended like you’re talking down to them. If it’s the amiable or detail personality, they love that you would care enough to get it right.

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com specializingintheimpossible

    I can identify with this post!
    The other week my co-worker sent me a finished invoice, saying our boss would like to send a cover letter with it, so I had to wait to send it.
    I confirmed that with the boss.
    A couple days later, my boss says he was going to sit down and talk with this customer.
    A couple more days later, my boss asks me if I’ve sent the invoice out. I said no, I was waiting on his cover letter. He said, I told you I was going to go talk to them! I said, you didn’t tell me what about!
    Def different communicators!
    :)

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Hahaha….yeah, it’s funny how we think we communicated when we didn’t.

  • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

    Great reminder that analyzing those around us before tearing into them (for ‘mistakes’) since they are different from us, may save us a lot of grief in future. Over the years i have learnt to work on and understand people especially in the work environment before conflicts arise, and this has saved me a lot of grief.
    As you point out DISC profiling is one of the best ways of doing this. I look forward to the day, when we’ll all walk around with our profiles clearly spelt out on our foreheads, but until such a time, it’s up to us especially as leaders to take that extra step to really ‘know’ those we are leading.

    Great reference here is one more.
    http://changingminds.org/explanations/preferences/disc.htm

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      We actually have ours outside of each persons office or cube so you know before you talk to them.

      • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

        Sounds like i need to visit your offices one of this days…great idea.!

        • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

          You need to! Let me know when you do.

          • http://ginasmom.wordpress.com ginasmom

            Thank you for the invitation!!

  • Chris Johnston

    Chris. I wouldn’t go as far as to say you were a horrible leader. You simply didn’t immediately recognize that she didn’t process information at the same level as you do.

    Even in situations where teams can almost finish each others sentences, there will be situations where it won’t happen.

    Question. Had the roles been reversed and she was requesting the work be done, would you have known how to proceed?

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I would have because of the way I process. I’m able to hear a concept and put together a product. Problem is, I have a tendency to not get all of the information, therefore there maybe parts missing…or it will be ugly. :-)

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    I have experienced this as well. My last admin assistant was good and she was very detailed. The problem was that her personality was highly intuitive and emotional. She did great work but she drained me to work with her because of my personality. Later, she moved on from the organization and I now have a new assistant and she is like a machine! She not only does work with excellence but she’s always looking for ways to do things better and to save the organization money!

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Great choice!

    • Chris Johnston

      Eric: At an old employer, I had an assistant much like the second example you gave. Great person. I used to get flack because she did it with such ease and the senior management thought she was not performing or had a right sized workload because she made it look so easy.

      Those people are a blessing.

  • http://twitter.com/ibnabeeomar ibn abee omar (@ibnabeeomar)

    loved this – i found out at entreleadership i was a very high C. Understanding what that meant made me learn a lot about myself especially in how i perceive and interact with others. i interact closely with some people who are high D’s, and before I knew that, i felt that these guys were on a different planet and completely lacking in common sense.

    i would get so frustrated – if you asked me, “omar, whats a DISC assessment?” i would reply with: http://tinyurl.com/5wd43r3

    i understand now though that some ppl just dont think the way i do (even though my way is so obviously common sense :) ) – this has changed the way i communicate because i know what the other side is focusing on and what TYPE of information they need.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Man, you must have had a great teacher!! :-)

      • http://twitter.com/ibnabeeomar ibn abee omar (@ibnabeeomar)

        yep! :)

  • http://www.cabinart.net Jana Botkin

    Hey Chris, how about a link to or an explanation of “DISC”? – thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/mahez007 Uma Maheswaran S (@mahez007)

    I believe communication styles (the war of words) is chiefly an inward one. Many times, our war of words is not with other people; it is a battle within. We need to understand the fact that words belong to God; He has lent them to us so that we might know Him and be used by Him.

    Word problems are always related to heart problems. Allowing God to redeem us for His purposes transforms how we look at our people in Christ, which transforms our communication with them. God is a God of redemption; we as His ambassadors must be people of redemption. No longer will our words leave a trail of discouragement, destruction, and division. Rather, they will be words of love, truth, grace, hope, faith, forgiveness, and peace, producing a harvest of righteousness.

    There is a war going on, but with the Spirit, we will be equipped to fight this battle of improper communication.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Good change in direction Uma.

  • David

    I am one if the one’s that always thought that the hearer was the problem and although I still tend to think that way sometimes, I have realized the power in communicating well. All of our people have taken the DISC and it’s benefits should not be underestimated. Each time I have a problem with someone not delivering what I expect, I refer back to their profile and although hard to admit, I usually realize that it ‘s my fault for speaking a different language.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Now that’s being a leader right there!!!

  • http://joelfortner.wordpress.com Joel Fortner

    Since committing myself to learning the DISC pretty well, I notice personality based comm struggles regularly, especially on my team. That’s why I brought in DISC material for everyone and often bring it up and highlight select conversations we have to illustrate someone’s “D” or “C.” I think that’s one of the best ways to learn this stuff. The absolute best thing about it is you stop making assumptions about why someone said something or did something. No, they’re not “in a mood.” They’re a high C! Sweeping away assumptions is huge. Enormous. Invaluable.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Absolutely! Assumptions are almost as bad as gossip.

    • http://twitter.com/tbric Tom Brichacek (@tbric)

      Where did you get the DISC profile from Joel?

      • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

        Type DISC into our online store if you want.

  • http://theretrospectiveentrepreneur.wordpress.com the retrospective entrepreneur

    Chris, this is so relevant an area of management, yet one so neglected. I blogged some experiences on this subject a while back that your readers might find relevant http://bit.ly/oOqHHm

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Tony.