What’s the problem, is it culture?

25 maja 2022


How to handle differences in the work environment


Let’s start off with some of the negatives as they may be the easiest to relate to.

This person is so stubborn!
This person is so picky!
This person is so clingy!
This person is too dictatorial!
This person acts like a clown!

Sound familiar?

There’s often times in the work environment when you cannot help but to click with everyone and you feel you get along and other times when no matter what you do, you cannot stay out of trouble.

A way you can better understand this is by looking it up in the behavioral assessment tool called DISC which stands for Dominant, Influential, Steady or Compliance.

The tool was initially designed by William Moulton Marston an American Psychologist who invented the lie detection machine. He started to work out that there were 4 distinct behavioral patterns in the personality of everyone.

Often we think we clash because we’re of a different culture, but based on this study it’s more to do with emotional behavior.

Let’s break down the four:

1. Dominant

Dominant styles can also be seen as competitive, they enjoy being in control, they’re very active and desire to move quickly, often getting frustrated when time’s being wasted. They love to be to the point and often dismiss chitter chatter.

Often we hear them say. Got no time for this, stop wasting time, get to the point, don’t give me a story, let me stop you there, why hasn’t this been done. Notice the word „done!”

They value getting things done and admire strength and speed.

2. Influential

Influencers are also active and can be seen as quite talkative, animated, and positive. They love to chat, be in and around people. They have a way of making people around them feel good, they are also quite magnetic drawing groups together and getting everyone excited about the work.

Often we hear them asking how are you doing, everything going well, how was the weekend, and how’s the family with big smiles with lots of warmth and smiles, hand gestures and facial expressions!

They value socializing, collaboration and being involved with things, love to be in the know and to be with people.

3. Steady

This could also be called sympathetic and reserved. Steady behavior styles are generally quiet in nature, they tend to prefer small teams and welcoming environments or to be around people they know: They love routine, and they love to have clearly defined requirements with due dates with what to do.

They’re generally not that active, preferring to keep things low-key. They’re also quite caring and want to do things that help people which makes them very loyal and there for you.

They value harmony, peace and tranquility, they love routine. We may hear them quietly ask, what must they do next, often looking across the room with a smile, not saying that much.

4. Compliant

Compliance can also be called precise. They’re also not an active behavior style, they’re incredibly strong analytically, and they have a very sharp eye for detail. They love to work alone, preferably in quiet environments going through all the fine detail.

They’re also task-driven, not so sociable in nature, and prefer to get on with work, getting through their tasks one by one crossing them off the list. They don’t enjoy elaborating, they prefer to say only what’s necessary to get their point across.

Often we’ll hear them reply in short sentences, with yes or no answers, and in a team meeting they may seem to want to be done with the meeting quickly, only expressing in point form, (for example) Was working through the data, no bugs everything went smoothly.

So where and how can things go wrong?

Out of the 4 styles, 2 will usually work well together where 2 may clash. The key is for everyone on the team to know what the style is and then to start educating them on why the styles behave the way they do, this way they are far more likely not to take things personally when they clash.

Usually, when they do take things personally, it’s a sign they’re still quite a novice in understanding DISC, the best way to help them is for someone knowledgeable in DISC to meet with them and express why they were treated the way they were and also to explain to the other person why they reacted the way they did.

Here are a few examples, let’s put them together in a team environment.

Dominant with Influential: Let’s say we have an Influential style discussing problems with someone that’s dominant.

So someone animated, warm, talkative, expressive to someone that’s to the point, fast, and wants to get things done. The talkative person may clash when they speak as they are influential, to them it’s about discussion, it’s about collaboration, elaboration having fun together whereas to the dominant person, it’s not about fun, it’s about results!

The influential person may feel the dominant person to be too direct, too harsh, and cold without feeling. Where the dominant person may see the influential as not serious enough, a dreamer often may find them preferring to ignore the influential and find someone else whom they think can do the work.

The best way to solve this is with: „What’s expected of them and when?” As long as they agree and buy into the timelines you’ll find them both accepting the tasks and getting on with things.

Another one that often clashes is when a Compliant style rejects work provided by an influential style. Influential styles by nature are less focused on the details, they’re more about socializing. So when they’re facing someone that’s very detail focused, they may think they’re overly picky and get frustrated in speaking with them.

Another example is when a steady person is asked to do things ad hoc. They value routine, for them ad hoc can be quite stressful, they want things to be laid out, they fear surprises, and they love bliss, calm and repetitive.

There are so many variations to this study that it will take time to discuss them all in one article. As a suggestion, if you want to learn more about this, the best place to start is on Youtube. Try watching several videos DISC, try to make sense of the content.

If you want to find out what style you are, there are many tests available, some free and some paid. A good one to try is off Anthony Robbins’ website, DISC test. Anthony provides a free limited version of a well-known test where you can get an initial idea. They have the paid version too if you want to know all the details.

In summary:

DISC is a powerful tool to better understand how to drive productivity and positivity into your work environment, mitigating hostilities and low morale.

Feel free if you’d like to add your own comments about situations where you may have clashed with someone and didn’t quite know what to do. Remember that it should always be seen in a constructive and objective way, nothing taken personally.