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Find a category of articles on the right that appeals to you. Each category contains a series of articles on that topic. For a complete overview of the topic, read the articles in the order they are listed.

   
 
Gifts of Ideas
 
     
 
Meiss Education Institute

Motivation and Personal Style: How We Do What We Do
By Rich Meiss

Motivation Series- Article II

Shakespeare said that all the world’s a stage and all of us are players on it.  If you consider a play you have seen or have been a part of, you know that everything on the stage – the dialogue, the lighting, the music, the props and the costumes – are all designed to convey a message.  Our life, too, conveys a message.  Everything we say, do or don’t do expresses who we are.  And it is our behavior, more than anything else that communicates to others who we are in any given moment.

Emerson said:  “What you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.”  It is our actions, our behavior, that often reveals things about us we are not even aware we are  projecting.  Many of us would be surprised to know what other people really think about us.  We may interject information in a conversation that we think is helpful, while the other person thinks we are interrupting and rude.  Or we may be in a socializing mood and lead the conversation – thinking we are funny and entertaining, while the other person thinks we are vain and “full of ourselves”.  And sometimes our perceptions of others are misinformed as well.  Someone is really trying to be a good listener, and we perceive that they are unusually shy and quiet.

Why does such miscommunication happen?  Aside from our given physical appearance and body language, we have developed a unique way of expressing our feelings and emotions in the way that we behave.  This way of expression has helped us develop our sense of identity and becomes our way of being.

For that reason we might consider Karen quiet or shy because she said very little, while we discern Ezell to be friendly and outgoing because of his talkative nature.  And we might judge Donna as being assertive by reason of her forceful nature, while we perceive Dean as being rigid and controlling because of the way he expressed himself.

Different Does Not Equal Wrong

Each of us acts the way we do for a variety of reasons.  This is perfectly normal.  However, even slight differences often become barriers between us.  The real source of our conflict, however, is not in our differences.  Conflict happens when we have accepted, sometimes unknowingly, that “different equals wrong”.  Actually, this is a symptom of a belief system based on winning and losing.  The first step in resolving a conflict is to move out of win-lose and into win-win.  And one of the best ways to do that is to realize that, when it comes to behavioral style, “different equals wrong” can be changed to “different is simply different”.

So what shapes our behavior?  How do I do what I do and why do others do what they do?  This question has fascinated people throughout the ages.  Early observers compared human behavior to the four elements of nature:  earth, fire, water and air.  Earth was firm and dominating, fire was bright and animated, water was calm and peaceful, and air was clear and detached.

 

Temperament and Type

Some 400 years before Christ, Hippocrates theorized that a person’s style, or “temperament” as he called it, was determined by which humor (inner fluid) dominated that person,  Yellow bile was “choleric”, blood was “sanguine”, phlegm was “phlegmatic”, and black bile was “melancholic”.  While not very appetizing or accurate, the characteristics identified for each of these temperaments made sense then and have largely been validated by more recent research.

In the 20th Century, Austrian Psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung did extensive research on this topic, culminating in his book published in 1921 called Psychological Types.  His work was the most scientific ever done on this topic, and he described the types as Intuitor, Thinker, Feeler, and Sensor.  Jung’s work was the basis for the popular modern personality assessment instrument called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Working at about the same time across the ocean, American Psychologist William Marston at Columbia University published a book called The Emotions of Normal People.  Marston theorized that human behavior could be studied on a two-axis model, and he came up with the four styles of Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance.  His work was further developed by University of Minnesota professor John Geier into the modern DISC assessment instrument.  Dr. Geier introduced into the DISC language the terms directive, interactive, supportive and corrective.  Several companies and researchers have continued to update and add value to the DISC model today.

We have chosen to utilize the DISC information to help you understand your behavior and the behavior of others because of its user-friendliness and its validity.  While we won’t go into an in-depth analysis, we will give you a basic understanding to help you complete your life’s puzzle.  For a more thorough analysis, you may wish to complete a more in-depth DISC assessment.  (See the references at the end for more information.)

 

The DISC Model of Human Behavior

Contemporary researchers have discovered that each person has a pattern of behavior that starts to form early in life.  For most people, this behavioral pattern is pretty well in place by the time they start school.  No one can say for sure just what percentage of this pattern is inherited and what proportion is learned.  But we all have developed a natural way to behave with other people and situations.

For purposes of this exercise, we are going to look at the DISC model along two continuums of behavior, which we will label pace and priority.  We will plot pace  and priority on an axis.    At the top of the vertical axis are those people who tend to have a faster pace about them.  They are often competitive, and express their ideas and beliefs openly and forcefully.  They like to tell others what to do.  At the bottom of the horizontal axis are those people who tend to have a slower pace about them.  They tend to be more cooperative, and tend to ask more than tell.  

 

                    D              Faster Paced                 I

                                       (TELLS)                   

                       ___________________________

                                                                                                        

                    C              Slower Paced                S

                                        (ASKS)

 

Please understand that there is no right or wrong, good or bad place to be on this scale.  Each place is just different.  The position each person occupies on the scale depends largely on the traits he or she inherited and on early learning and programming.  This has nothing to do with values and intelligence, subjects that we study in other parts of this book.  It has nothing to do with honesty and integrity, abilities, or even good mental health.  Remember from the title of Marston’s book that we are looking here at the emotions of “normal” people.

This continuum looks at priority.  On the left side of the continuum are those whose main priority is tasks.  They tend to be more formal in their approach to things, and are more controlled in their expression.  On the right side are those whose main priority is people.  They tend to be more informal in their approach and more self-expressive.  They will often share their emotions freely with those around them, while those on the left of the continuum are not comfortable revealing their deeper feelings.

 

             Task Oriented __________________  People Oriented 

               (Formal)                                            (Informal)

 

As in the previous example, there is no one best place to be.  This has nothing to do with a person’s emotional maturity, abilities or commitments.  It has to do with a person’s comfort in expressing their emotions and their priority around task or people.  Remember, different does not equal wrong, different just equals different. 

                                                  

D

   I

C

  S

 

                    

By putting these two continuums together, we have now formed a four quadrant system by which we can characterize behavior.  We will call the upper left hand quadrant the “D” behavior, or directing.  The upper right hand quadrant is the “I” behavior, or interacting.  The lower right hand quadrant is “S” behavior, or supporting, and the lower left hand quadrant is “C” behavior, corrective or calculating.  Each person is made up of some combination of all four of these behaviors. Most people, however, tend to have a more prominent style and then maybe a secondary and tertiary style. 

 

The Directing, Interacting, Supporting and Calculating Styles

A Directing style (Directer) is decisive, results-oriented, competitive, independent and strong-willed.  These strengths when over-used can become domineering, harsh, tough, impatient, and pushy.  The Directer is motivated by challenges and prefers a fast-paced environment.  He or she fears being taken advantage of.  To increase their effectiveness, directers need to develop more patience and learn to slow down and socialize.

The Interacting style (Interacter) is enthusiastic, persuasive, people-oriented, stimulating and talkative.  These strengths overused can appear to be undisciplined, excitable, disorganized, manipulative, and reactive.  The Interacter is motivated by people contact and an open, accepting environment.  They fear a loss of influence.  To increase their effectiveness, Interacters need to develop more objectivity, be more organized, and learn to be brief and low-key.

The Supporting style (Supporter) is dependable, agreeable, amiable and calm.  These strengths overused come across as unsure, insecure, wishy-washy, and conforming.  The Supporter is motivated by stability and prefers an organized, secure environment.  To increase their effectiveness, Supporters need to be more decisive, say “no” more easily, and develop greater comfort with change.

The calculating style (Calculaters) are accurate, persistent, cautious and perfectionistic.  These strengths when overused look like critical, picky, judgmental, and slow to make decisions.  The Calculater is motivated by control and accuracy, and prefers an environment that maintains high standards.  Their fear is criticism of their work.  Calculaters can increase their effectiveness by being more open and tolerant of themselves and others, and by developing an acceptance of realistic limitations.

In another article we will explore our values, which we often call the “should do’s” of our life.  That represents what we believe is expected of us. A further article on thinking styles deals with the “will do’s” of life, our thinking patterns.  The behavioral style information here is the “would do’s” of our life, or what is most natural for us.  By learning both your DISC behavioral style (your “would do’s”), your values information (your “should do’s”), and your thinking patterns (your “will do’s”), you will have a better understanding of why you do what you do, and then you can work to better understand others when you have their information.

 

Understanding Style – Directers

The directing style tends to be determined and assertive in meeting their needs through directing others.  They are results focused, and want to act decisively.  Directers are motivated by challenge and prefer a fast-paced environment.  Their major fear is being taken advantage of.  Don’t back these people into a corner, as they’ll come out fighting.

Directers are results-oriented, forceful and practical.  These strengths over-used can become limitations, and often manifest as overbearing, insensitive and distrusting.  

If you are a Directer style, you can increase your effectiveness by developing further patience with yourself and others.  Learn to slow down and socialize.

To interact more effectively with a Directer, provide possibilities for them to get results, solve problems, or be in charge.  Stress the logic of ideas or approaches.  Whenever possible, get them into a discussion about their goals and end results.  Remember that Directers can be demanding and competitive.  They will tend to tell you what is happening, and want to be in control.  Help them meet these needs.

In a traffic jam:

Directers would be honking the horn and weaving in and out of traffic, trying to get to their destination.    I

Interacterswould be on their cell phones, checking out what is going on, or would have their windows rolled down and be getting to know their neighbors.

Supporters, being more practical in nature, would probably have a book along, and would be catching up on some reading.

Calculaters would have a map out, trying to figure out another route to take so they would not be in this same fix tomorrow.

The good news is that there is no right or wrong style, each is just different.

 

Understanding Style – Interacters

Interacters tend to be entertaining and motivated to be involved with others.  They are people focused.  Interacters are motivated by people contact and prefer an open, accepting environment.  Their major fear is loss of influence.  Don’t put these people into a job with computers, books or things, as they would soon be talking to the inanimate objects.

Interacters are persuasive, spontaneous and accessible to others.  Overused, these strengths can manifest as overly-subjective, too emotional and superficial in their approach.

If you are an Interacter, you can increase your effectiveness by developing more objectivity and organization.  Learn to be brief and more low-key.

When dealing with an interacting style person, allow them to express their hunches or ideas.  Provide ideas for transferring talk to action.  Allow time for fun activities and creative ideas.  Provide incentives for them, and avoid confrontation if at all possible. Remember that Interacters can be excitable and stimulating.  They will want to be the center of attention and have the opportunity to interact with people.

In a grocery store:

Interacters would be saying hello to everyone they meet, and maybe making a sale or making a friend at the checkout counter.

Directers would be rushing through the aisles, grabbing whatever looks good and quickly moving to the checkout lane.

Supporters would have a list of needed items, and would be methodically going  from aisle to aisle to get all their groceries.

Calculaters would maybe have their calculator with them, and would be checking the best price on each item as well as the ingredients in each product.

Remember that there is no good or bad style, each is just different.

 

Understanding Style – Supporters

Supporters tend to approach situations in a slower, more planned manner.  They are process focused.  They are motivated by stability and prefer an organized, secure environment.  Their greatest fear is loss of security.  Supporters usually do not do well in jobs that pay a straight commission.

The strengths of this style include deliberateness, objectivity and consistency.  When these strengths are used too much, they can come across as indecisive, overly-systematic, and not expressive of thoughts and feelings.

If someone has moved the office furniture over the weekend:

Supporters will say, “Gee, I was just getting used to it the way it was!”

Directers will say, “Great, it should have been done weeks ago!”

Interacters will not say anything, because they are so busy interacting with people that they didn’t even notice that the furniture has been moved.

Calculaters will not say anything at first, but later will ask:  “Why did they move it, and who authorized the move?”

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to react, people are just different!

 

Understanding Style – Calculaters

Calculaters are precise and reserved, and are facts focused.  They are motivated by control and accuracy, and prefer an environment that maintains high standards.  Their greatest fear is criticism of their efforts or actions.  Make sure you have your facts straight if you are going to criticize them, as you can be sure that they will have their facts straight.

The strengths of Calculaters include being creative, inquisitive and diplomatic.  Used too much, these same strengths can seem to others as perfectionistic, critical, and overly demanding of themselves and others.

Calculaters would increase their effectiveness by developing acceptance of realistic limitations.  If this is your style, learn to be more open and tolerant of yourself and others.

When dealing with a calculating style person, be prepared to answer their questions in a patient and persistent manner.  If you disagree, make sure to disagree with the facts, not the person.  Give them permission to make changes based on their standards.  Remember that Calculaters can be cautious and sensitive.  They tend to ask probing questions and like to plan ahead.

When putting together a new bicycle:

Calculaters would first carefully check that all the parts are there, read through all the instructions, and then put the bike together according to the instructions.

Directers would just start putting the bike together, even though they may end up with a few extra parts.

Interacters would have some friends over for a party, and find some supporters and calculaters to assemble the bike for them.

Supporters would begin with the first instruction, follow it to completion, and then go on with each succeeding instruction.

Remember that there is no good or bad style, each is just unique!

 

How to Interact Successfully With Each Style

When dealing with a directing style person, provide possibilities for them to get results, solve problems, or be in charge.  Stress the logic of ideas or approaches.  Whenever possible, get them into a discussion about their goals and end results.  Remember that directers can be demanding and competitive.  They will tend to tell you what is happening, and want to be in control.  Help them meet these needs.

When dealing with an interacting style person, allow them to express their hunches or ideas.  Provide ideas for transferring talk to action.  Allow time for fun activities and creative ideas.  Provide incentives for them, and avoid confrontation if at all possible. Remember that Interacters can be excitable and stimulating.  They will want to be the center of attention and have the opportunity to interact with people.

When dealing with a supporting style person, show them sincere interest and recognition.  Be patient in drawing out their goals and needs.  Present new ideas in a non-threatening manner, giving Supporters time to adjust to change.  Remember that Supporters tend to be soft-spoken and team oriented, wanting to include everyone.  They like recognition but do not need to be the center of attention.

When dealing with a calculating style person, be prepared to answer their questions in a patient and persistent manner.  If you disagree, make sure to disagree with the facts, not the person.  Give them permission to make changes based on their standards.  Remember that Calculaters can be cautious and sensitive.  They tend to ask probing questions and like to plan ahead.

To get a sense of your DISC style, you may want to complete a DISC Styles Survey.  For a more complete analysis of your behavioral style, you may want to complete a full DISC Profile or its online equivalent.  See the references at the end for more information.

 

My Style Story

I would have paid a lot of money to have learned this information early in my life.  Fortunately I did learn it at age 28, and have been able to make better decisions for my own life as well as interact more successfully with others as a result.  I am a Supporter/Interacter.  I like being involved with people, but I do it at my own pace and in an organized fashion.  My biggest challenge is with those people in the opposite quadrant from me – the Directers.  Because they want results and act decisively and I want security and act systematically, I have had to learn some coping strategies to get my own needs met while still being able to flex to meet their needs.  A major learning for me was that I need to ask for what I need FIRST, because of my tendency to meet the needs of others.  An affirmation that has been especially useful for me is:  “I will TELL you what I want, then ask you what you want, and be willing to negotiate”.  I had to learn to first tell what I needed.

I have used my style information by building on my strengths in my career.  I tried a direct sales job in my early 20’s, and soon learned that did not serve my need for security.  So I became a trainer for several national companies, and only when I felt I had a clientele built up to provide some solid income did I take the plunge of going into my own business.  You Directers are probably laughing and saying you plunged in early and often in life – without any security blanket.  That is the advantage of understanding and applying the style information – each of us can craft a situation that works for us!

I have also tried to minimize my limitations of indecisiveness and not expressing my feelings.  When small, seemingly insignificant decisions need to be made, I force myself to respond quickly.  For the larger decisions, especially if they involve other people, I give myself some time by expressing a need to “think it over before responding”.  

In my training seminars, I often tell participants to maximize their new self-understanding by following these guidelines:

-       Honor and celebrate your strengths!  Put yourself in situations where you

can often use your strengths – both in work and social settings.

-       Minimize your limitations.  Continue to look for ways to develop yourself

in the areas you are weakest in, but more often avoid putting yourself into

situations where your strengths cannot be used.

-       Surround yourself with others whose strengths complement yours.  Create a 

team of people who can each utilize their natural strengths and therefore get

the job done.  Of course the most effective teams will have the strengths of each style present – Directers, Interacters, Supporters, and Calculaters.         

Applications of the DISC (and Other) Motivational Models

When we know about these three motivators – style, values and thinking – we have a better understanding of ourselves and our own motivations and behavior, and we can better understand others and their motivations and behavior.  Having this basic understanding gives us powerful information to use in a variety of applications, including:

-          Communications and interpersonal relations

-          Personal and professional development

-          Teambuilding and team development

-          Sales and customer service training

-          Management and supervision

-          Coaching and counseling

-          Conflict management

-          Interviewing and hiring

-          And other people development topics.

For basic training and coaching in interpersonal communications, interpersonal relationships and personal development, we often start with the DISC model to give people a good understanding of how they do what they do.  This model is also useful for applications in teambuilding, sales training and management.

When we get into conflict management, building high performing teams, leadership applications and more, we add the values model to gain a deeper insight into the why of human behavior.  

And when we want to go to the deepest level of human motivation to understand what people do, we use the thinking patterns model.  This allows us the opportunity to look at the foundation of all human behavior and help people utilize their thinking strengths and minimize their thinking limitations.  This model is useful in coaching, personal and professional development, and advanced interpersonal relationship development.

To gain maximum impact in any of these applications, we use a combination of all three models.  In interviewing and hiring, for example, we want a sense of the person’s behavioral style, values and thinking patterns.  By matching the needs of the job in these three areas with the person’s natural strengths in these three areas, we can make excellent hiring decisions.


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