Great communicators make more money, get more done, and have higher rates of satisfaction in their relationships. However, everyone has a natural communication style based on their innate gifts and personality.
One of my favorite personality assessments is the DiSC profile. I love DiSC because it focuses so much on how you communicate with others. I believe everyone can benefit from knowing their DiSC communication style, so here I’ll give an overview of the DiSC profile and how you can use it to communicate better.
An Overview of DiSC Communication Style
The philosophy behind the DiSC profile is similar to the Greek philosophy of the four humors. This philosophy, developed by the ancient physician Hippocrates, taught that there were essentially four kinds of personalities. Carl Jung, the father of modern psychology, also believed that four factors determine a person’s nature.
The DiSC profile teaches the same thing. The word DiSC is an acronym for the four basic personality types:
D – Dominance (The Dominators)
i – Influence (The Influencers)
S – Steadiness (The Stabilizers)
C – Conscientiousness (The Contemplators)
Dominance types are the most direct and results-driven. Influence types are the most extraverted and conversational. Steadiness types are the most agreeable and understanding, and Conscientious types are the most analytical and careful. Each personality type has its strengths, weaknesses, and preferences that will strongly determine the way you think and how you interact with other people.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Communication Style
Growth and immaturity for each type will look very different. It’s important that you identify which DiSC communication style fits you the most, because it will tell you a lot about how you’re coming across to other people and the mindset you’ll need to adopt to improve as a communicator.
At their best, Dominators are bold and decisive. They can take charge and inspire confidence in the people around them. Dominators are often very pragmatic and objective, and they appreciate concise communication. They’re the least likely to waste words, and they will speak their mind plainly.
However, D personalities are also the most likely to steamroll people. At worst, the DiSC communication style can come across as abrasive and disagreeable, and Dominators can come across as confrontational even when they aren’t trying to be. Furthermore, they can fall into an overly black-and-white mentality and try to be “right”.
D’s grow when they stop talking to win and start dialoguing to understand and empathize. When dominators stop assuming they know everything and become curious about other perspectives, they are very dynamic leaders. The key is that it has to be their real attitude. Dominators who don’t change their mindset will only come across as disingenuous.
Listens first and speaks last
Asks questions in order to learn
Speaks first, talks over people
Asks questions to make a point
Influencers are generally very positive and energetic people. If you’re an Influencer, you’re probably naturally persuasive and engaging. The issue with influencers is that they’re prone to talking too much. Not only do they tend to talk over people, but they also can ramble. Their energy can be too much for some people, and this is especially true for Contemplators.
Influencers grow as communicators simply by cutting their talking in half. When they do talk, they should slow their speech down to be as soothing and relaxing as possible. When Influencers add these traits to their DiSC communication style, their natural warmth and positivity takes on a broader appeal.
Listens more than talks
Talks slowly and in a soothing tone
Unwavering eye contact
Asks questions and then shuts up
Takes too long to make a point
Talks too fast and too loudly
People with high steadiness bring the warmth of the Influencers with calmer presentation. They’re primarily concerned with other people’s comfort. Therefore, a Stabilizer’s DiSC communication style will focus on courtesy and establishing trust.
Where Stabilizers struggle is where Dominators excel – bluntness. Stabilizers can beat around the bush or simply refuse to speak their mind rather than risk offending anyone. This can be problematic for a couple of reasons. First, they can actually come across as disingenuous and untrustworthy, which is the exact opposite of what they want. Second, they can become resentful if they keep too much to themselves and fall into passive aggression.
When Stabilizers boldly tell the truth without fear of rejection or controversy, their communication skyrockets. Combined with their compassion and agreeableness, a transparent Stabilizer is a powerful messenger.
High C people are the most detail-oriented and analysis-driven. Like Dominators, they prize objectivity, but they are more meticulous and observant by nature. The prize logic and structure in equal measure, and they seek data to drive their decisions.
Contemplators are the most likely to get bogged down in the details. They can become so determined to get all the information that they forget why they need it and whether or not it’s relevant. Moreover, they can forget the fact that human beings (themselves included) are primarily emotional creatures seeking emotional connection. Because of this, they can come across as cold, inflexible, and critical.
The Contemplator’s DiSC communication style becomes most effective when they use information to supplementa message rather than make their entire message information. They become persuasive when they accept that not every conversation is about logic, but about connecting. By becoming just as curious about people as they are about things, Contemplators exude thoughtfulness and precision.
Great leaders are always marked by fantastic communication skills. Abraham Lincoln was known for persuading his infamously divided cabinet by telling stories. As many as 250,000 people at a time traveled from all over the country to listen to Martin Luther King Jr. give speeches. How did these men become so effective? Among other things, they followed the principles of great communicators.
The Core Principles of Great Communicators
The reality is that there are a number of various communication styles among world-class communicators. For simplicity, I’ll define a world-class communicator as an influencer of industry and culture who typically has a much higher net worth than the overwhelming majority.
Some leaders like Mr. Rogers are more soft-spoken. Others like Donald Trump tend to be more bold and grandiose. Nevertheless, I would argue that there are fundamental principles of great communicators that they all follow. I’ve seen these types of people up close in seminars, board meetings, and one-on-one conversations, and I’ve observed very similar patterns in them all despite their unique differences.
In this post, I’ll share the 7 principles of great communication that I’ve had the honor of observing in world-class communicators. I believe that no matter what your personal communication style is and where you are in your hero’s journey, you can implement these principles to become a positive force of nature in any environment and increase the respect, compensation, and influence you receive.
Be an Influencer, Not a Manipulator
Please note that I’m about to share is not to be used for manipulation. Manipulators come from a selfish place, but I believe that influencers come from a selfless place. Frankly, I don’t think that any of these principles will work for you if you’re trying to control other people or use them. They will only work if you’re genuinely interested in the person across from you and are working for something greater than yourself.
“Manipulators come from a selfish place, but influencers come from a selfless place.”
So before you implement these tactics, check your motives and ask yourself why you want to be a great communicator. If the only answer is you want more money or status, don’t be ashamed. Nevertheless, I’d encourage you to dig deeper. You exist with a specific purpose beyond yourself, no matter who you are, and you won’t truly be fulfilled until you figure out what that is and start living it out.
Principle #1 – Lean In
At JPI, we define leaning in as spending however much time and energy you must in order to fully understand another person’s perspective. It means completely withholding judgement and pushing against them until you really hear where they’re coming from. This doesn’t mean you need to agree with them, but it does mean you need to really see through their eyes.
Great communicators are less concerned with being right than they are with bringing a positive outcome to others. They aren’t fighting to save face – they check their egos at the door and are open to having their minds changed. Empathy is perhaps the most important trait for any great leader. It can turn enemies into peaceful neighbors or even friends. This is why leaning in is #1 in the principles of great communicators.
Principle #2 – Listen More than You Speak
This build off of leaning in, because nothing will make you more interesting and effective than listening. It’s also the only way you’ll ever gain a different perspective than yours, and you need other perspectives to be successful. The simple act of shutting up, saying nothing, and paying attention to somebody else is so powerful, because most people never do it. Yet the wisest person is generally the last person to speak.
“The wisest person is generally the last person to speak.”
Here’s an easy way to practice this principle of great communicators: the next time someone is talking to you about something important to them, close your eyes so you don’t get distracted and listen intently. Nod along to what they say and give verbal cues to show that you are listening. People may ask you what you’re doing. If they do, tell them the truth. You’re trying to become a better listener and really hear what they’re saying, and you don’t want to get distracted. If you do this, you will build so much trust so quickly.
Principle #3 – Be Clear
I once overheard Dave Ramsey say the following: “It’s unkind to be unclear.” Clarity takes effort and focus, because language is really complex and everyone operates from a completely different frame of reference. Nevertheless, we owe it to everyone in our lives to choose our words carefully and fully explain what we’re trying to say. Expecting others to track with us with 100% accuracy is not reasonable.
To do this, we have to care more about the other person’s comprehension than we do about our time. We simply have to get rid of the false expectation that other people should know what we’re saying. It’s not their job to understand us, it’s our job to make them understand. This is core to the principles of great communicators.
Principle #4 – Be Honest
We should always be treating people how we want to be treated. No one wants to be lied to, you shouldn’t lie to others. Not only is it manipulative and wrong, but it’s the fastest way to destroy trust. Without trust, you can’t have healthy relationships, and without healthy relationships, you cannot lead effectively or have a successful life.
It’s easier to destroy trust than you might think. People are better at picking up lies than even they know, often subconsciously registering them before consciously realizing it. Over time, the more you lie (even by omission) the less someone will trust you. That’s why great communicators are always focused on being authentic as a habit.
Principle #5 – Walk the Talk
Great communicators aren’t just honest with others – they’re honest with themselves. They hold themselves accountable to the same rules and expectations they hold others to. This may be fifth in the order of principles of great communicators, but it’s in strong competition with principle #1 for the title of most important. In reality, we are always communicating. Our lives and actions are going to speak louder than words.
Principle #6 – Honor
Renowned faith leader Danny Silk once defined honor as “treating somebody as though they’re Jesus himself.” Regardless of your worldview, I think this is a pretty perfect description. Can you imagine if you lived this way?
The quickest way to lose the confidence of others is gossip, which I define as putting someone else down in the presence of others. You may think this builds you up, but the people around you will look at you differently, even if they laugh and agree with you. Deep down they will begin to ask, “Do they talk this way about me?”
People who display honor, on the other hand, always express gratitude for others. When in doubt, they praise others and give the credit away. Otherwise, they say nothing at all.
Principle #7 – Give More Value Than Expected
Great communicators consistently over-deliver. They aren’t afraid to give away something for free. Mind you, they know when to negotiate and stand up for themselves, but they love to give their audience something they weren’t expecting. It could be something small like a funny story. It could also be useful advice that nobody paid for. Regardless, they pack their messages full of meat, and they are allergic to fluff.
Invest in Your Communication Skills
World-class communicators got to where they are because they weren’t shortsighted. Twenty years ago, they were thinking about today, focusing on creating a legacy of blessings and possibilities in order to make the largest impact possible. So what are you going to do with these 7 principles of great communicators?
If you apply and practice these principles every day starting right now, you will see positive change in your relationships, career, and income sooner or later (and probably sooner).
However, as you advance, it will become that much more important that you identify your purpose so that you can live a fulfilling life. We at the Journey Principles Institute are here to help you with exactly that.
Communication issues can hold you back in any area of your life: your relationships, your career, even your sense of fulfillment. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. Becoming a better communicator will make you better at everything.
At the Journey Principles Institute, we define communication simply as connecting to the world and others around us. It goes beyond what we say and extends to how we carry ourselves, how we observe, even how we think. Below are the communication tips that will transform your interactions with people from miserable to blissful.
Communication Tips That Will Transform Your Leadership
1. Lean in
Leaning in is spending the time and energy to understand another person’s perspective before you make any judgments of your own. This last part is crucial, because the assumption that we already have the answers will make us far more likely not to listen. The key to leaning in is remembering that you really don’t have all the answers and that the person speaking knows something you don’t.
Most people are preoccupied with what they want to say. As such, they live in a perpetual state of hurry. They can’t relax enough to actually listen to what the person across from them is saying. If they would, they would probably find that many of their assumptions about that person and the situation they’re in are either simplistic or downright wrong.
“But what if I forget what I was going to say while I’m listening?” you may be asking. This is a great question. One thing I personally do is take notes on my phone while I’m listening to someone. If I think of an important point, I jot down a key phrase that will help me remember it later. Once I’m done leaning in, I can look back through my notes and bring it up if it still seems relevant.
What you know will always be infinitely dwarfed by what you don’t know, so it’s better to assume that everyone has something to teach you. We can do tremendous damage to our relationships when we act out of presumption, so never forget to lean in. This is one of the most foundational communication tips.
2. Listen Often
Many of us need to reframe our definition of successful communication, because many of us think that being a great communicator is about being articulate and engaging when you talk. In reality, the foundation of excellent communication is listening.
We need to be committed to understanding before we can be great listeners, but we also need to make listening our default before we can be great communicators. The longer we listen, the more we will see and understand. The more we see and understand, the easier it becomes for us to identify the true root of a problem and know the right solution. Plus when you listen, other people want to listen to you.
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
3. Communicate Clearly, Whatever it Takes
Impatience and pride are the true enemies of clarity. We naturally want other people to understand what we’re thinking, but many of us carry an unrealistic expectation that they should. In reality, you carry a myriad of expectations that are unique to you due to your upbringing, experience, and innate personality. Furthermore, language is more subjective than we think it is. We often say things that seem impossible to us to be misinterpreted that in reality have dramatically different meanings to others.
For instance, If I tell my wife that I don’t feel loved by her, I need to give specific examples of things she could do that would make me feel loved. In her mind, she may be thinking that she’s already showing me tons of love by taking out the trash and cleaning up the house, because those are things I could do to show her that I care. Meanwhile, I might mean that I want her to initiate more hugs and handholding, because that’s more important to me.
When you don’t clearly express to someone what you expect from them in a relationship, you set them up to fail. This is why it’s unkind to be unclear. It’s simply not right to expect other people to read your mind and extract all of the implied details from your broad statements. So invest whatever time and energy into making sure that what you’re trying to say is what the other person is hearing. Here are some here added communication tips to help you do this well:
Ask “What do you mean by that?”
Repeat back to someone else what you just heard them say, in your own words.
If you’re making a request of someone, ask them to tell you what they heard.
Rephrase what you say when there is confusion. Add new details.
Ask yourself routinely: “What can I do to be more clear in my communication?”
4. Show Honor
Every communication with someone is an opportunity to show honor. Honor is treating someone with the same level of respect that you would like to be treated with. For instance, if someone brings a problem to your attention, thank them. For many people this takes courage and care, particularly if you happen to be their boss, spouse, or anyone in their life with power.
Another one of my favorite communication tips is to simply give encouragement, because most people rarely receive this. Effective encouragement is honest, specific, and without any expectations attached. It’s also always good if it’s gratitude over something specific that a person did recently. Praise for behaviors is always very uplifting and motivating, particularly if it’s from your boss. Remember, everybody is brag-worthy, so if you struggle with thinking of more than a few things that you like about someone, you should probably get to know them better and practice focusing on other people’s good qualities, rather than the things you don’t like.
5. Seek Legacy
Keeping the end in mind is critical to success in anything. As a practice you should ask yourself in each relationship “What’s the ultimate, long-term outcome that I want to achieve with this person?” Think about collaboratively, and remember it always. Having perspective will help keep you curious, patient, honest, and intentional.
6. Bring Value
Your communication will really stand out when you’re more concerned about serving the other person than you are with being heard. Never underestimate how valuable it is to listen to someone and treat them with respect and honor. Every conversation you have can be the best part of someone else’s day, simply because you leaned in and sought long-term gain for your relationship. In the end, the more you forget about yourself in communication, the more effective you will be.
7. Be Honest
Out of all the communication tips you will ever receive, this one may be the most important. Avoiding conflict breeds resentment. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favors when you’re concerned or bothered and you don’t speak your mind.
The right time, place, and approach are important, but these cannot be excuses to bottle things up. Storing up your offense or concerns is more likely to make you passive-aggressive than anything, which is never helpful. Passive-aggression creates more conflict in the relationship than if you’d said what you were thinking as politely as possible.
The key to being honest politely is to stop assuming the other person as the problem. Instead, assume that the real problem is a simple misunderstanding. When we realize that most interpersonal conflict comes from misaligned expectations, we can deal with conflict more readily. We can also treat one another with more compassion because we understand how easy it is to not be on the same page.
If you’re afraid that you might damage a relationship by being honest, remember that a healthy relationship will survive and be better for it. If somehow the relationship doesn’t survive or get better, then maybe it’s a toxic relationship that you shouldn’t be in.
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